Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Patterson Rebuffs National Park Service Interest in Christmas Mountains

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is telling the National Park Service to "take a hike" on the acquisition of the Christmas Mountains.

Despite previous indications that acquiring the land would not be practical, the National Park Service has now asked Patterson to postpone the sale of the land, which abuts the northwest corner of Big Bend National Park, to allow it time to conduct an evaluation to consider the feasibility of purchase. Patterson's rationale for refusing to postpone the sale of the land to private interests? "No guns, no hunting, no deal."

That's right, despite the fact that the land was donated with the intent that it remain in public hands for the enjoyment of the general populace, Patterson's ever-shifting reasoning is that he

........ would not be willing to sell the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service if it would mean that there would never be public hunting allowed on the property," Jim Suydam, Patterson's spokesman, said in a statement.

According to the Texas Observer,

Patterson, who allegedly keeps a pistol in his left boot and another in his waistband, calls the ban on packing heat in national parks "unconstitutional.”

The GLO (General Land Office,) which manages the land, is proposing to sell the land to private investors as early as its November meeting.

The GLO has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns on land it holds for the fund, and maintains that it must sell the Christmas Mountains as it is “unable to invest the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to fence the land to protect it from poachers and to restore it to its original, native state.”

The GLO's claim that the land needs to be sold because of mismangement is disputed by many. Meanwhile, Patterson assures us that

the deed restrictions conveyed to the Land Office by the Conservation Fund will be conveyed to a private owner and will be legally enforceable. This means that they are bound by the original restrictions set forth by the Fund, yet will have greater financial means to manage the land.

That statement would be reassuring if Patterson had a history of honoring deed restrictions. But of course, if he had abided by the restriction in the original deed that said the land could not be sold without the permission of the Conservation Fund, we wouldn't be having this debate, now would we?

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