Today I will be holding a press conference to announce that Castner Range will be preserved as open space and turned over by the Department of Defense to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to be included in the Franklin Mountains State Park.
I will be joined by Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona, a member of the House Natural Resources committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. I will also be joined by City Representative Carl Robinson, and members of the Castner Conservation Conveyance Committee.
This past week the House Armed Services Committee voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. This annual policy measure includes a provision I authored authorizing the Department of Defense to transfer Castner Range to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to be included in the Franklin Mountains State Park.
As a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have worked for many years to mandate the transfer ownership of Castner Range from the Department of Defense to preserve approximately 7,000-acres of undeveloped desert, foothills, and mountains in Northeast El Paso.
Previously, in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Bill that was signed into law by President Obama, I included the following report language in the legislation:
"Castner Range Complex at Fort Bliss: The House Armed Services Committee understands that the Department of Defense ceased operations at the Castner Range Complex at Fort Bliss in 1971. In testimony, the Army indicated that Castner Range is "wholly impractical to use for any range activity.' The Committee is interested in maintaining this land for a conservation purpose. The Committee encourages the Department to enter into an agreement in furtherance of conveyance with eligible conservation entities."
It was also my pleasure to obtain $300,000 in needed funding for a study to determine how best to apply a conservation conveyance to the Range.
I am pleased that one day my grandchildren and their grandchildren will enjoy this space. Castner Range is one of the most important places in El Paso and we as a community have an obligation to preserve it for future generations.