Castner Range, Fort Bliss, TX
Castner Range is located within the northern limits of the city of El Paso, El Paso County, Texas. The range is bordered on three sides by residential and commercial development and on the west by the Franklin Mountains State Park, making unauthorized access to the range easy. the community's overwhelming concern is the Castner Range - a closed military firing range where unexploded ordnance is a major issue. The community recommended posting warning signs in both English and Spanish, blocking motor vehicle access points, and erecting fences to prevent livestock access.
The U.S. Government acquired approximately 3,500 fee acres in 1926, and purchased an additional 4,828 acres in 1939. The Army constructed numerous firing and gunnery ranges at the site. Apparently ranges were constructed at the site for 4.2-inch and 81 millimeter (mm) mortars, large caliber artillery, 3.5-inch rockets, and rifle grenades In 1971, the Army reported 1,247 acres of the range excess to General Services Administration (GSA) The GSA conveyed the excessed property to the city of El Paso at an unknown date Over the years the city sold portions of the site to land developers for housing, industrial companies, and the University of Texas. Prior to disposal of the excessed property, Army personnel swept the acreage for unexploded ordnance. A Certificate of Clearance was issued for the former range property on 18 June 1974. During the operation of the range, civilian deaths and injuries occurred resulting from unauthorized entry onto the range and removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the site. Some UXO and ordnance remnants are still found by civilians in and around the housing developments constructed on the excessed range property. Currently, the excessed Castner Range land is owned by numerous public and private groups and individuals. Commercial and residential areas, as well as a community college and public parks, have been developed on the former range.
The city of El Paso owns the majority of 640 acres (Township 1, Block 81, Section 23) adjacent to the northern end of Castner Range. The land appears to have been contaminated with ordnance from Castner Range. Section 23 was initially purchased by Las Norias Cattle Company in 1908. El Paso County confiscated Section 23 from the cattle company in 1947 for failure to pay taxes on the land. The county sold the land to K.B.S. Realty Corporation in March 1948. The city acquired the property on 29 July 1955, from K.B.S. Realty Corporation. The cattle company was mentioned in a lawsuit between the United States of America (U.S.A.) and numerous property owners for condemnation and acquisition of a lease for certain properties. There is no evidence of a lease between Las Norias Cattle Company and the U.S. Government involving Section 23.
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