It was politics pure and simple and it read like an El Paso Times headline with words like "may" or "could". Last Thursday, Rep. Reyes' office issued a press release entitled "Silvestre Reyes Announces Passage of Legislation to Add Castner Range to the Franklin Mountains State Park". Problem is there was no passage by either the House or the Senate and no Presidential siganture.
It is true that the House Armed Services Committee did vote to approve the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that included language that Castner Range may be conveyed to the Department of Parks and Wildlife of the State of Texas for inclusion into the State Park. "May" is pretty squirmy and not firm like the words "will" and "must" that Silvestre's opponent, Beto O'Rourke, wants to see used in the language of the bill.
The land may be conveyed as long as unexploded ordnance is cleaned-up first. What land is clean may be conveyed. What land awaits cleaning will have to be done with State or private money - as high as $65 Million possibly according to Dr. Richard Teschner, a key player in conservation efforts through the Castner (Range) Conservation Committee, a joint effort of the Frontera Land Alliance (Dr. Teschner is Vice-President) and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition.
El Paso Times reporters, Aaron Bracamontes and Alex Hinojosa, in stories on Saturday and Sunday both saw the Emperor unclad. Reyes was not exactly upfront with this pre-mature announcement the weekend before early voting was set to begin. Also in his Thursday press release his office states: "Reyes also secured $300,000 for a study to determine how best to apply a conservation conveyance to the Range." That $300,000 was done in 2010 but the press release made it sound like just one more goodie Reyes has brought home to voters in recent days.
It is true that Reyes has helped conservation efforts and persons in his office such as Julie Merberg, according to Teschner, have been "extremely helpful". But the real credit should go to the Castner (Range) Conservation Conveyance Committee and thousands of jet miles by Teschner and others back and forth between El Paso and Washington D.C. Clearly environmentalist, Beto O'Rourke, favors preserving the land. So, even if he is elected over Reyes, the efforts will continue and probably will do so as "musts" and not "mays".
The language inserted in the bill is a step forward. But, as another hard worker for Castner conservation, Judy Ackerman, says: "The news is a very big step in the right direction, but we are not done yet. There is much more work to do before Castner belongs to the Park."