Saturday, December 01, 2007

Patterson Still Playing Grinch with Christmas Mountains Deal

After a guardedly optimistic report in the Dallas Morning News on the potential for a compromise on the fate of the Christmas Mountains, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports today that Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is still blocking the transfer of the land to the National Park Service.

According to the FWST, Patterson is insisting that the National Park Service must pay for the land, even though it was donated to the state with the understanding that it would become property of Texas Parks and Wildlife or the National Park Service. The TPWD has stated that it is not interested in acquiring the property. Patterson was supposed to meet with William Wellman, superintendent of the Big Bend National Park, on Friday but could not keep that appointment "because of bad weather."

But [Wellman] said that the insistence by the Texas General Land Office that it get paid for the 9,269-acre tract could seriously complicate any potential transfer.

"You're looking at a year delay if you were to involve federal funds -- it would definitely be a hurdle, and I don't know if it would be insurmountable," Wellman said.

In the meantime, Patterson has released more details on two private bids submitted for the tract. Award of a bid was postponed for 90 days to allow the National Park Service an opportunity to work out a deal to acquire the land.

A bid has been submitted by John Poindexter, who owns the 30,000-acre Cibolo Creek Ranch near Presidio.

According to the 21-page bid package, Poindexter would spend $175,000 on restoration and conservation projects.

The bid says that an annual barbecue with the tract's neighbors could take place on the property, as well as auctioned hunts for mule deer, whitetail deer and blue quail, but it is vague on other points involving public access. For instance, it says "selective public education might evolve" on the property.
Poindexter has been trying to acquire public land in this area for some time, including unsuccessful attempt to acquire 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park in 2005. More recently, he proposed a land swap that would trade land of the bankrupt Lajitas Resort for part of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

No comments: