Tuesday, September 11, 2007

State of Texas Selling Off Christmas Mountains

I don't normally print emails but this is one that I received today that will have an impact on all Texans and future Texans. The State is about to sell off 9,000 acres of land donated to the people of Texas. This is public land and should be used for hunting and outdoor recreation for all. If it sells, the public will never get to enjoy this property and a Jewel in the Texas wilderness will be lost to us all. Take a moment to send an email demanding that the State not sell our public lands. Thank you for taking the time to try and preserve some of the Texas wilderness for our children. Wild Ed

Our campaign to save the Christmas Mountains is off to a great start. So far, more than 2,000 of you have asked Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson to stop the sale of the Christmas Mountains to private interests!
Today the Austin American-Statesman threw their weight behind our effort, officially editorializing in opposition to the sale (see below). Commissioner Patterson and the other members of the School Land Board will vote next Tuesday, Sep. 18, and we need to keep up the heat on him.
We want to generate a total of 3,000 emails into Commissioner Patterson before next Tuesday's vote. If you haven't sent an e-mail to the Commissioner, please do so now. To send your email, click on the link below:

Email Commissioner Patterson to stop the sale of the Christmas Mountains!

For more information, here's an editorial from today's Austin American-Statesman:

Texas a Grinch for putting Christmas Mountains for saleEDITORIAL BOARDTuesday, September 11, 2007
The School Land Board, led by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, intends to sell 9,269 acres in the Christmas Mountains, just northwest of Big Bend National Park. The land was given to the state in 1991 as a gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which donated it through the Virginia-based Conservation Fund.
The state should not sell the land, even though there would be considerable restrictions on how the it could be used by a new owner. A sale would set a terrible precedent for any future donor thinking about giving land to a state that might be more inclined to flip it to some well-heeled buyer.
Money from selling the land would go to a worthy cause, the Permanent School Fund, whose holdings are invested on behalf of public education. But the amount of money reaped from the land sale would make little practical difference to the huge school fund.
Besides, the land office says money isn't the point of the sale, but the need to take care of the land. Poachers and invasive species aren't being checked because no state agency has the means to do it. Patterson notes that his office is not in the parks business, and the Parks and Wildlife Department, which is, has been starved financially by the Legislature for years. Though Parks and Wildlife got a considerable budget boost this year, it will take years for it to recover, and it rightfully has higher priorities now than more land acquisition in far West Texas.
Once a new owner has a conservation plan for the Christmas Mountains in place, the public will gain some access to it, Patterson said. Major deed restrictions, he noted, will prevent any development - and most vehicles - on the land.
The General Land Office, which Patterson directs, reports six bidders, but details remain confidential. The School Land Board will meet Sept. 18 to award a bid.
Patterson wants to make this an ideological argument by attacking what he says is an idea that a private owner can't be as good a steward of the land as the government. In this case, he said, a private owner would be a better steward than the state has been.
Maybe, but only because those now in control of the state, in particular the Legislature, have refused to take responsibility for raising the taxes or fees necessary. It's rather like a parent neglecting a child for years and then complaining that his teeth are rotten.
But the solution isn't to sell the child or dump land that, some day, Texans who don't have the means to buy their own thousand-acre playgrounds might want back for their own use and enjoyment.
There's no pressing need to sell the land, which one of the bidders called "handsome scenery." Invasive species and poachers might do some damage now, but it's damage that can be reversed.
The real damage will occur if groups such as the Conservation Fund and the Mellon Foundation, which oppose this sale and might challenge it in court, spread the word across the nation that there's no point in giving Texas a part of itself back.
Patterson should stop the sale.
Tell Commissioner Patterson to stop the sale of the Christmas Mountains. To send your email, click on the link below:


Sincerely, Luke MetzgerEnvironment Texas DirectorLukeM@environmenttexas.orghttp://www.environmenttexas.org/P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.----------

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