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National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains

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Offline Warren Druggs

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National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« on: October 13, 2007, 02:26:46 PM »
National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
Sale of public land to private interests may be thwarted


By Asher Price
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, October 13, 2007

The National Park Service is interested in acquiring the piece of land at the center of a controversial sale by the state and adding it to Big Bend National Park.

But the General Land Office, which controls the sale, appears unwilling to delay, largely because it wants to ensure that hunters have access to the land.


The National Park Service, which had passed on the land, sent a letter to the General Land Office on Friday saying that it is interested in acquiring the Christmas Mountains tract, about 9,269 acres to the northwest of Big Bend.

The state had been collecting bids for the sale of the land, which could happen as early as Nov. 6.

"The National Park Service would like to re-evaluate the feasibility of adding the Christmas Mountains to the park and requests that you postpone the sale until we have time to finish our evaluation," William E. Wellman, the superintendent of Big Bend National Park, wrote in a letter Friday.

The General Land Office had decided to sell the property because it said it could not properly manage it.

The deed with which the land was donated to the state holds that the land office can sell the property only after offering it to the National Park Service or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

But the General Land Office is unwilling to sell the property if no hunting is allowed on it, said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the office. (The National Park Service prohibits hunting in its parks.)

"Commissioner Patterson's message to Superintendent Wellman was simple: No hunting, no firearms, no deal," Suydam said.

"We're not looking at changing park policy," said Wellman.

The sale, which was postponed after a technical glitch (the top bid at the time was $652,000, or about $70 an acre), has been fraught.

Outraged conservation groups said putting the land up for sale flouted the intention of the original donors, the Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, to keep the land in public hands.

Selling the Christmas Mountains land "sends the wrong signal to philanthropic people who are out there trying to support land conservation in Texas," said James H. King, the West Texas program director of the Nature Conservancy.

In particular, the land office has invited the wrath of the Pittsburgh-based Mellon Foundation. The foundation has given 3.6 million acres in all 50 states, from Civil War battlefields to wildlife wetlands.

Its reach runs all the way to Texas, where it has given the state the 40,000-acre Chinati mountain range in West Texas, as well as smaller gifts.

But the sale of the Christmas Mountains tract appears to have jeopardized relations between the state and the foundation.

If the land sale goes through "the state of Texas (should) not look to the R.K. Mellon Foundation for any future help," Mike Watson, an officer with the Richard King Mellon Foundation, wrote in a July e-mail to several people involved in conservation in Texas.

Selling the land "would have a chilling effect on the willingness (of conservation groups) to work with public agencies in the future," said Larry Selzer, president of the Conservation Fund. He said acquisition of the property by the National Park Service would be a "wonderful outcome."

"If this gets straightened out, there won't be any lasting effect," said Bruce Babbitt, a former interior secretary. "The only logical outcome now is to make sure the donors' intent is honored and this land is put in permanent protection without being paid for twice."

asherprice@statesman.com; 445-3643

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SHANEA

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 08:19:25 PM »
GREAT CATCH ON THE ARTICLE THERE Warren Druggs   :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap:


Of course, I think the title of the article by the Austin American Statesman is a very tad bit misleading...


National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
Sale of public land to private interests may be thwarted

But the General Land Office, which controls the sale, appears unwilling to delay, largely because it wants to ensure that hunters have access to the land.

But the General Land Office is unwilling to sell the property if no hunting is allowed on it, said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the office. (The National Park Service prohibits hunting in its parks.)

"Commissioner Patterson's message to Superintendent Wellman was simple: No hunting, no firearms, no deal," Suydam said.


I don't get it.  I'm stupid I guess.  Stupid is as Stupid Does.  Ok, the GLO sells the land to some private individual be it Poindexter, the guy that's involved with Waste management, or some other Tom, duck, Harry, Sally, or Jane.  Does this mean all of a sudden that the new private owner has to keep it open for public use for hunting?   Does it have to be public free hunting, or can they charge $$$ to hunt on it?   So, the GLO is adding stipulations to the land sale?  Or, has it "been this way all along" that it has to be open to hunting?  When did this all of a sudden get entered into the equation?

If the GLO wants it to be open for hunting, then it needs to be turned over to TPWD for a WMA.  I hate to be overly critical of our friends with NPS, but we all know how long an evaluation will take - example - PJ Expansion...  Oh, don't get me wrong, I'd really like NPS to have the Christmas Mountains as an addition to BIBE.  I have a feeling since it would be a state agency to state agency transaction that it might be quicker to go from GLO to TPWD.  If hunting prima facia at the Christmas Mountains, then it's obvious that NPS is out of the equation.   

Perhaps NPS BIBE in conjunction with Forever Resorts should take over Lajitas at the coming fire sale and let TPWD take the Christmas Mountains?



 
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 08:26:19 PM by SHANEA »

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SHANEA

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 08:51:50 PM »
http://www.bigbendgazette.com/blog/_archives/2007/10/11/3285665.htmlChristmas Mountains auction cancelled - again

A few "new" selected quotes from the Big Bend Gazette... Publish Date: October 11, 2007
Quote
In a telephone interview with The Gazette in 2006, biologist David Riskind, who had recently toured the mountains said, “If you want to look at a piece of Chihuahuan Desert grassland in excellent condition, look there. The grassland community is excellent.”
Quote
Suydam also confirmed that the GLO would not sell the property to the National Park Service: “The land office has offered to sell that land to NPS several times now. But yes, Patterson would insist on any buyer allowing public hunting.”

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Bill Wellman, Superintendent of Big Bend National Park, said the NPS would accept the 9,000-acre property, under certain conditions: “If the land were offered as a donation, either by the state or a third party, we  would be interested, if 1) funds (federal or nonfederal) are available for the [Hazardous Materials] survey, 2) the congressional delegation would support a boundary expansion, and 3) Brewster County does not object to additional NPS land in the county.”

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Chief Operating Officer Scott Boruff said TPWD was recently approached informally by the GLO regarding the matter, yet the “property does not meet the strategic goals of the TPWD of acquiring either adjacent lands or in holdings.”

The department is currently seeking to add properties in various eco-regions throughout the state where it is under-represented, and with over 400,000 acr,es West Texas is “over-represented,” according to Boruff, and the Conservation Easements on the property would make it almost impossible to transform the property into a state park.

Quote
So, barring an act of God or Congress, or some other intervention, it seems the Christmas Mountains will again be offered for auction in November. At press time, the GLO did not have specific information regarding the new auction.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 08:53:43 PM by SHANEA »

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Offline Roy

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 10:07:24 PM »
I'm going to start Mailing/Emailing/making phone calls on this one.  Both BBNP and the Christmas Mountains would be better off if they were combined.  There's plenty of private hunting leases in this state;  no reason Poindexter should own another one.  Let's see if we can talk some pols into listening (or at least make them wish the had).

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BigBendHiker

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 08:57:06 AM »
The Alamo Sierran had an article on the Christmas Mountains sale in their October issue.   It was suggested to write to State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson at patterson@glo.state.tx.us to express your concerns over the sale. 

I will be registering my opposition of the sale in an email later today.  Regardless of where one stands on this issue, it is important that the General Land Office hears from us.  Otherwise, the GLO will get its input from a select few that may (or may not) represent yours and my interests


BBH

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SHANEA

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 09:52:20 AM »
The Alamo Sierran had an article on the Christmas Mountains sale in their October issue.   It was suggested to write to State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson at patterson@glo.state.tx.us to express your concerns over the sale. 

BBH

and you will get this reply from him.
http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/index.php/topic,4301.0.html

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BigBendHiker

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2007, 10:01:35 AM »
Thanks...I had missed that in in one of my earlier flyovers...


BBH

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SHANEA

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2007, 01:04:52 PM »
Thanks...I had missed that in in one of my earlier flyovers...


BBH

Flyover  :cheesy:  - best thing to do would be to make a call or fax to them or if you are in Austin drop by for a friendly chat...

GLO Contact Information


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Offline rgibson

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2007, 08:10:39 PM »
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to contact Supt of BBNP about maybe taking another look at the Christmas Mountains.  Have not been able to speak with him as yet.

Have been involved with the Christmas in one way or another since the 80's.  Lived on adjoining tract, own an adjoining tract, worked and met with the GLO in mid 80's on leasing (they also had me meet with the Conservation Group). Lease was all but signed and sealed when a "technicality" arose.

Still have all the paperwork and the lengthy covenants.  Was shocked to find hunting was ok.  The lease was not for hunting.  Nature tours, etc.

Do not think the press is reporting the sequence of events as it happened.  Seems like it was as follows:
1. The Land was originally offered directly to the BBNP, b4 the GLO was involved.
2.  The BBNP had just finished a lenghty and bitter fight over acquiring the Rosillas Mountain Ranch and was not in the mood to take on another fight at the time.  The fight was with a Trans-Pecos property owner group.  It is a group of ranchers who fight any new acquisitions of public lands.
3.  Then it was offered to the GLO  as sort of a holding method until something could be worked out.

The best thing that could happen to the Christmas is for the BBNP to accept as was originally intended.

The map in the Statesman is very inaccurate.  The land joins the BBNP on the east and south boundries of the Christmas Mountain 9200 acre tract.  Also other reports mention that the land does not join the BBNP.  It does join!



 

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Offline Roy

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2007, 08:33:44 PM »

2.  The BBNP had just finished a lenghty and bitter fight over acquiring the Rosillas Mountain Ranch and was not in the mood to take on another fight at the time.  The fight was with a Trans-Pecos property owner group.  It is a group of ranchers who fight any new acquisitions of public lands.

I think TPWD was pretty much in the same fix as they had just acquired BBRSP and were spending a lot of money, etc. getting it shaped up.  I think it was around 1991 before either BBRSP or the old Rosillos Ranch were opened to the public.  Rosillos Ranch was donated to BBNP by Ed Harte, from Corpus Christi, and I remember him being pretty frustrated by the whole process.
Neither TPWD or NPS had the time or resources to manage another donation at that time.

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SHANEA

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2007, 08:36:27 PM »
Neither TPWD or NPS had the time or resources to manage another donation at that time.

Yep, TPWD could barely afford to put toilet paper in the state park stalls.

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SHANEA

  • Guest
Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2007, 08:45:49 PM »
Christmas Mountains Ranch
Sealed Bid Land Sale
October 31, 2007

GLO Website

There are instructions, exhibits, and a map on the above website.

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Offline badknees

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2007, 08:56:39 AM »
What's this all about?

TIGUA INDIAN DISCLOSURE

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso, Texas (the Tigua Tribe) has asserted a claim to PSF tracts in Brewster County.  The claim was evidenced by a 1983 federal register filing.  Court records reflect that the filing (to intervene in a pending suit) was denied; however, as of this date, the State of Texas has no documentation that the claim has been resolved.

The whole sale appears to be a cluster.
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline BorderDog

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2007, 09:33:36 AM »
What's this all about?

TIGUA INDIAN DISCLOSURE

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso, Texas (the Tigua Tribe) has asserted a claim to PSF tracts in Brewster County.  The claim was evidenced by a 1983 federal register filing.  Court records reflect that the filing (to intervene in a pending suit) was denied; however, as of this date, the State of Texas has no documentation that the claim has been resolved.

The whole sale appears to be a cluster.


That is pretty much a standard declaration for all real estate transactions in Brewster county
...in order to be successful, as a {Tank} crew, the bottom line is, if you can't hit the target, you're not a tank; you're a 60 ton noise maker- Eric Daniel

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Offline rgibson

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Re: National Park Service may acquire Christmas Mountains
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2007, 10:02:43 AM »

2.  The BBNP had just finished a lenghty and bitter fight over acquiring the Rosillas Mountain Ranch and was not in the mood to take on another fight at the time.  The fight was with a Trans-Pecos property owner group.  It is a group of ranchers who fight any new acquisitions of public lands.

I think TPWD was pretty much in the same fix as they had just acquired BBRSP and were spending a lot of money, etc. getting it shaped up.  I think it was around 1991 before either BBRSP or the old Rosillos Ranch were opened to the public.  Rosillos Ranch was donated to BBNP by Ed Harte, from Corpus Christi, and I remember him being pretty frustrated by the whole process.
Neither TPWD or NPS had the time or resources to manage another donation at that time.

I think you are correct on the Rosillas opening,

the BBRSP was "limited open" with tours starting about Oct 88.

 


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