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Top Morning Stories September 15, 2011

Image courtesy Texas General Land Office.
Control of the 9,269 acre Christmas Mountains (outlined in yellow) is expected to be turned over to the Texas State University System by the state's General Land Office

Christmas Mountains to Texas State University System

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is expected to announce that the General Land Office will turn over control of the Christmas Mountains to the Texas State University System. Published reports indicate the wilderness area will be used as an outdoor lab and wilderness classroom. There had been discussion of selling the 9,200-plus acre land tract next to Big Bend National Park to a private owner, but it appears now that Sul Ross State University will take over administration of the West Texas land.

More Counties to Get Aid for Wildfires

People affected by wildfires in five more Texas Counties can now apply for federal and state aid.  FEMA has announced residents in Travis, Williamson, Colorado, Houston and Leon Counties are now eligible for assistance.  More than $ 1 million in disaster aid has already been approved for people in Bastrop County. Aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low interest disaster loans. Find more information at

Texas Redistricting Trial Wrapping Up

Closing arguments are set for today in San Antonio in the trial over the state’s new redistricting map. Democrats say the way the map draws voting districts won’t increase representation for minorities, even though the Hispanic population has grown. Republicans say the map is fair and legal.  The GOP-controlled Texas Legislature approved the map earlier this year.