Friday, February 01, 2008

Christmas Mountains Deal Imminent

According to Environment Texas, a decision on the fate of the Christmas Mountains is due next Tuesday. The group sent an email asking for signatures urging Texas School Land Board to accept the National Park Service’s offer to purchase the Christmas Mountains and add it to Big Bend National Park.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the deal to be announced next week is likely to give conservation advocates their wish.

On Friday, the General Land Office, which controls the land and had put it on the auction block, released a proposal by the National Park Service to take over the land, which is adjacent to Big Bend. Patterson has repeatedly said that he opposes such a move because the national parks don't allow hunting.

The land office had received private bids last year worth $60 an acre that would have allowed hunting, although it's not clear how much public access would have been allowed by the private owners.

The NPS proposal says that the Christmas Mountains tract would be opened for day and overnight hiking. An old access route to an antenna on a 5,700-foot peak would be a "primary destination for remarkable vistas" for hikers and horseback riders. Should it be incorporated into the vast Big Bend National Park, the Christmas Mountains tract would amount to about one percent of the total acreage of the park.

The proposal pays special attention to hunting, which it says would not be allowed on the land. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a staunch supporter of gun rights, had said last year that he wanted hunting allowed on the land. But the National Park Service proposal says hunting access is difficult and that the deer population is low.

If this announcement signals an end to the wrangling over the Christmas Mountains, and places the land in the public realm as was the original intent, this is great news.

The Christmas Mountains is not the only tract of private land that the National Park Service would like to add to Big Bend. Nationwide, the NPS lists over 11,000 separate tracts comprising 1.8 million acres that it has designated for acquisition.

Unfortunately, the park service's budget for purchases is down from a high of $139 million in 1999 to $24 million in last year's budget. To put that in perspective, $24 million is about two hours funding for the Iraq war, or a little above the annual pay of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

1 comment:

ShaneA said...

Hello, Shane Allen here from www.bigbendchat.com

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/national-park-news/your-attention-action-please-t5299.0.html

Please post a comment to Governor Rick Perry's website @ http://www2.governor.state.tx.us/contact/

We will know when we are making an impact when they add another sub category for the issue again!

Also, send a hand written fax to the following:

1. Governor - 512-463-1849

2. GLO - 512-475-1558

3. Attorney General public.information@oag.state.tx.us and 512-475-2994

You can also FAX to the GLO Executive Office @

Quote
Facsimile
Executive Office
512-475-1558

or give Jerry Patterson a ring @
Toll Free: 1-800-998-4GLO (4456)
Direct: 512-463-5001

FROM: http://www.glo.state.tx.us/contact.html

While you are at it, you might as well contact the Governors office and I believe the Attorney Generals office (who appointed the others members to the board)

This is NOT the time to relax, this is the time to DIG IN and make damn sure that your voice is heard on this!

Regards,

Shane Allen