Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christmas Mountains Response from General Land Office

This was a reply I received form Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of General Land Office, State of Texas. I provide this and the following from a reader so that you may draw your own conclusion. Wild Ed

Subject: Re: Re: Don't sell the Christmas Mountains!

Thank you for your concern regarding the sale of the Christmas Mountains
Ranch in Brewster County. I would like to take this opportunity to provide
some background information that may enlighten your opinion on this issue.
The conveyance of the 9,000+ acre Christmas Mountains property to the
state's Permanent School Fund in 1991 was intended to protect this land and
ensure public access. For 16 years now, this goal has not been met. I
believe private stewardship of the Christmas Mountains will result in both
better protection for the land and allow unprecedented public access.
Since 1991, attempts by the Land Office to open the Christmas Mountains to
limited eco-tourism were frustrated by the many encumbrances placed on it by
the Conservation Fund. Over the years, poachers, trespassers, and invasive
plant species have infiltrated the Christmas Mountains.
In a further attempt to conserve the land via government resources, the Land
Office offered it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the
National Park Service on multiple occasions, as outlined by the gift deed
Both government entities declined this land. Yet, private,
conservation-minded interests have expressed an interest in purchasing the
land and spending substantial sums to care for, preserve, and maintain the
area's environmental and ecological treasures.
In the case of the Christmas Mountains, government management is not
necessarily the best solution. Transferring the Christmas Mountains to
private interests could not only better achieve the conservation goals set
forth by the Conservation Fund, but generate revenue for the benefit of
Texas school children.
On Tuesday, September 18, the School Land Board will hold a public meeting
in Austin to determine which bidder will best meet the fiduciary and
conservation goals set by the Board. As you may know, each bidder was
required to include a management plan for the land. These plans, which my
staff is now reviewing, demonstrate how the potential buyer would manage and
maintain the Christmas Mountains in accordance with the gift deed
restrictions. They must prove land management experience as well as
demonstrate how the conservation goals are fulfilled.
If you have any further questions about this issue, please contact Hal
Croft, Deputy Commissioner of the Asset Management Division at (512)

Commissioner, General Land Office

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