This article is from the El Paso Times.
By: Eric Summerford Pearson, Guest columnist
The range encompasses 7,081 acres of open space, including the majestic crest line of the Franklin Mountains and the beautiful alluvial fan that stretches eastward to the Patriot Freeway. You may know it better as “the place where the poppies grow.”
But Castner Range is much more than that. It deftly disposes of our rainwater through an intricate and fully natural network of arroyos and pools to replenish our Hueco Bolson aquifer, and provides a habitat for dozens of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It is a place where our community has grown, long before it was called El Paso.
Castner Range is an integral part of our collective identity.
For 14,000 years, humans have inhabited this area, as evidenced by several archaeological cultural sites. In 1926, Fort Bliss became the owner of the range, which was acquired under Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Castner for live artillery training. In 1966, when the city grew too close for Fort Bliss to practice with explosives, the post suspended activities at Castner, and the range was left mostly intact.
For the last 50 years, the land has languished, recuperated, and provided us with its own powerful explosion of wildflowers. Who hasn’t enjoyed the base of the Franklins lathered up with lush Mexican golden poppies in the early spring?
And now we have a chance to do something important with one of El Paso’s greatest natural spaces…