Release (Tuesday, November 6, 2007):
For More Information:
Ken Kramer 512-476-6962 (office), 512-626-4204 (cell)
Sierra Club Calls Christmas Mountains Vote a Victory for Texans
(Austin)—The Sierra Club declared today’s action by the School Land Board on the proposed sale of Christmas Mountains a victory for the people of Texas.
The Board, which oversees Texas public lands, voted at today’s meeting to leave the two private bids for the property open while giving the National Park Service 90 days to make a proposal for acquisition of the land.
The Board did not set any additional requirements for a proposal from the Park Service.
“The people of Texas scored a victory today when the School Land Board decided to delay the sale of Christmas Mountains to private bidders and to give the National Park Service the opportunity to pursue acquisition of the property,” said Sierra Club state director Ken Kramer. “Although the ultimate outcome is not yet known,” he continued, “the prospect that the Christmas Mountains may become part of Big Bend National Park was enhanced by today’s action.”
All of the people commenting at today’s Board meeting on the proposed sale of the property, with the exception of one of the private bidders, supported acquisition of the Christmas Mountains by the Park Service or Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) or retention of the land under management by the General Land Office.
Several speakers emphasized the need for the State of Texas to live up to the promises made in the original gift deed when The Conservation Fund donated the land to the State. That document gave The Conservation Fund final approval on any sale of the land to a purchaser other than the National Park Service or TPWD.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Chairman of the School Land Board, has asserted that he will not abide by that provision of the gift deed although he has indicated his desire to have the “support” of The Conservation Fund in any eventual transfer of the land.
Kramer said that the Sierra Club is supporting efforts at the national level to provide the authority and the resources for the National Park Service to acquire the Christmas Mountains.