How do we preserve open space in a marginalized community?

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For 52 years, El Paso community members worked together to protect Castner Range, located on the northeastern slope of the Franklin Mountains. Castner Range is a 7,081-acre site known for springtime blooms of Mexican Gold Poppies that carpet the rugged desert landscape. The area contains ancient structures of the area’s first peoples, mining remains, and historical military presence and is home to a variety of wildlife and ecosystems.


January 2021- President Joe R. Biden launched the American the Beautiful campaign working to conserve, connect and restore 30 percent of natural lands and waters by 2030 for the sake of the economy, our health and our well-being.

Following this announcement, community groups and environmental stakeholders across the nation began to position projects in their communities for national designation. In order to stand out from all the other projects, the Castner Range Coalition, composed of national, state and local conservationist and community members, developed a comprehensive strategic communications strategy to garner the attention of key decision makers.


Barracuda Public Relations (BPR) worked with The Frontera Land Alliance to devise and implement a public advocacy campaign to raise awareness about these efforts. Through traditional and social media platforms, BPR increased awareness and support from decision makers in El Paso and Washington D.C.

On June 8, 2022, the Castner Range Coalition completed a petition drive commemorating the 116th anniversary of the U.S. Antiquities Act resulting in 116,980 signed petitions. These petitions were shared with key decision makers.

BPR successfully pitched op-eds and stories to national, regional and statewide media outlets, drumming up national visibility to the White House, United States Congress and environmental advocates.


On March 21, 2023, President Biden signed a proclamation declaring Castner Range a National Monument.

The permanent protection of Castner Range from future development illustrates a significant step to expand conservation education to marginalized communities, such as the El Paso region.

To celebrate the historic designation of Castner Range National Monument, BPR coordinated a community event that included El Paso natives Rep. Veronica Escobar and Undersecretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo, as well as Major General John Isenhower and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Rachel Jacobson. The event featured student performers from the El Paso Independent School District and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo to honor the 52-year-long effort from the community. Though Castner Range is not open to the public for recreational activity, BPR and The Frontera Land Alliance are committed to working toward a Castner Range National Monument open to everyone!