For Immediate Release (Monday, October 18, 2010):
For More Information:
Ken Kramer 512-476-6962
Evelyn Merz 713-644-8228
Sierra Club Raises Concerns about Devil’s River Land Transfers
More Information Needed and the Public Needs More Time to Evaluate
(Austin) – The Sierra Club today released a
letter to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expressing “serious
reservations and concerns” about the proposed transfer of the existing Devil’s River State Natural Area and a $7.9 million cash payment in order to acquire the smaller Devil’s River Ranch. In the letter the Sierra Club says that “more
detailed information is needed by the public
before a meaningful evaluation may be made
about the pros and cons of the proposal” (which was just announced publicly last week). The conservation group also says that the “anticipated time frame for a decision on this proposal…does
not allow the public adequate time to make
that meaningful evaluation and to be sure
that all aspects of the proposal have been
thoroughly vetted in public.” Parks and Wildlife officials have indicated that a decision on the proposal is likely to be made at the meeting of the Parks and Wildlife Commission on November 4.
In the letter sent to Parks and Wildlife, Ken Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club notes that:
“…it is important for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to make its case for the proposed land transaction to the public at large…and that case must be a compelling one. In our opinion the agency has not yet made a compelling case for taking the Devil’s
River State natural Area out of the state park inventory.
The State Natural Area was considered an important piece
of property to acquire for conservation and wilderness recreation
purposes when it was put into the state park system. We have
seen nor heard anything that questions the original rationale
for acquisition. Therefore, it is hard for us to contemplate
supporting withdrawal of that area from the park system.”
The Sierra Club is also questioning the use of extremely limited state funds for parkland acquisition to acquire property in a deal that would actually reduce the size of the park system. The conservation group also notes that acquisition of the ranch property may result in additional costs for development and for operation and maintenance at a time when the state Parks and Wildlife Department is facing serious cuts in its appropriations due to the state’s looming multi-billion dollar revenue shortfall.
The Sierra Club is urging Texans to voice their opinions
on the proposed land transaction to Parks and Wildlife via
firstname.lastname@example.org or by attending public meetings the agency has scheduled for the evenings of October 20 in Del Rio and October 26 in San Antonio. The conservation group also urges people to attend
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting in Austin
on November 4, which will include a public hearing on the proposed land transaction and a possible decision on the proposal by the Commission.
The full text of the Sierra Club letter to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department may be found at texas.sierraclub.org.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department public meetings on the proposed land transaction in Val Verde County in West Texas are as follows:
6 PM, Wednesday, October 20 – Del Rio Civic Center, Mesquite Room, 1915 Veteran’s
Boulevard., Del Rio (830-774-8641 for more information)
6 PM, Tuesday, October 26 – Central Public Library, 600 Soledad,
San Antonio, TX (210-207-2500 for more information)
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
meeting will begin at 9 AM, November 4, at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters in Austin at 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.