October 28, 2010:
Sierra Club Announces Opposition to Devils River Land Proposal
Says Devils River State Natural Area Should Remain in State Ownership
(Austin) – The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club today released a new letter to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department formally opposing the proposed transfer of the existing Devils River State Natural Area and a $7.9 million cash payment in order to acquire the smaller Devils River Ranch.
In the letter the Sierra Club expresses appreciation to Parks and Wildlife for providing additional information to the group over the past couple of weeks while a review of the proposal was underway, and Sierra Club spokesperson Ken Kramer characterized the Devils River matter as one of “a
disagreement among friends.” Kramer says in the letter, however, that: “The Sierra Club has an obligation to its heritage and to its members to speak up for the preservation of wild lands, including state natural areas, and that is the crux of our opposition to the proposed land transfer.”
In today’s letter to Parks and Wildlife, five major reasons for the opposition are cited:
• The Devils River State Natural Area has important natural
and cultural resources, including endangered species habitat
and springs that provide water to the Devils River, and continued state ownership is the best way to protect those resources.
• The value of a state natural area is not the number of visitors to the area, and the state should not trade away such an area because it receives relatively few visitors.
• A complete scientific, natural resource,
and cultural resource comparison of the two properties proposed for the exchange has not been made, and thus the public cannot compare the merits of the two properties.
• The loss of the Devils River State
Natural Area would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the public to canoe or kayak the upper stretches of the Devils River. Moreover, the loss of the public land represented by the State Natural Area would likely complicate rather than facilitate efforts to reach resolution on the issues of public access to and use of the River.
• The expenditure of $8 million in extremely limited state parkland acquisition funds would result in a reduction
of 2000+ acres in the state parks inventory and potentially impact other elements of the state park system at a time of serious constraints on state agency budgets.
The Sierra Club is urging Texans to voice their opposition to the proposed land transaction to Parks and Wildlife via email to
email@example.com or by attending 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 http://texas.sierraclub.org/press/newsreleases/20101028LtrToCarterSmith.pdf.
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