For the past couple of weeks, staff, Executive Committe members and other activists with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club have been in dialogue with leadership of TPWD about plans to transfer the existing Devils River State Natural Area and a $7.9 million cash payment in order to acquire the smaller Devils River Ranch.
Today, Sierra Club sent a formal letter respectfully saying, No to the land swap.
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. Sierra Club’s Ken Kramer characterized the Devils River matter as one of “a disagreement among friends.”
Kramer says in the letter:
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.
The letter cites 5 major reasons for the opposition:
- 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.
Take action now to keep the Devil’s River as a State Natural Area!
So far, TPWD has a little too quickly held a public meeting in Del Rio and one in San Antonio.
The Parks and Wildlife Commission might make a decision on this proposal as soon as their November 4 meeting at 4200 Smith School Road. Please show up and make your voice heard during the public hearing part of the meeting! Click here for directions and put it on your calendar today!
For more information, you can check out this backgrounder on What is a State Natural Area and why we like them.
Thank you, lovers of the environment!