Potentially interesting maneuvers at Texas Parks and Wildlife. They appear to be in a hurry to swap the existing, remote, Devils River State Natural Area for a somewhat smaller, more accessible ranch downstream. I'm not sure what to think of this, but the hurry is definitely unsettling.
From Shannon Tompkins in the Houston Chronicle:
The swap/purchase would put into Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hands a "spectacular," much more accessible-to-the-public tract that could become "one of the premier parks in our system," said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy executive director.
But some conservation organizations and paddler/anglers are leery of the deal, questioning the logic of the transaction, TPWD's procedures for informing the public about the proposed exchange and the impact on paddlers of trading away the only public land along the upper reaches of the Devils.
"There are several things that concern us. How are they going to pay for it? Not just the up-front costs — the $8 million - but development, operational and maintenance costs, particularly given the economic issues state agencies are facing," Ken Kramer, director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said of the Devils River swap/purchase proposal. "And we're certainly concerned with what seems like a rush to get this deal done quickly, without much notice and opportunity for public input. The first I heard about it was last week. It doesn't appear to me they are living up to the spirit of their policy on land transactions."
The Devils River swap/purchase has been discussed only in closed-to-the-public executive session of the TPW Commission. The Nov. 4 TPW Commission meeting at which the proposal will be considered for adoption will be the first meeting at which the transaction is publicly discussed.
Hopefully this can be considered with a bit more deliberation and public discussion.