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Energy & Environment

Texas State System to Control Christmas Mountains

ChristmasMountains.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Texas General Land Office
The Christmas Mountains will come under the administration of the Texas State University System.

The Christmas Mountains, near Big Bend National Park in West Texas, will stay in public hands.

This morning Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced the remote 9,200-plus acre tract of land is being transferred to the Texas State University System.  It will be used for research and as an outdoor classroom for students.

“This accomplishes Commissioner Patterson’s original goals of insuring expert conservation for this property, preserving these thousands of acres of wild open space for public access, including hunters, that was one of Commissioner Patterson’s top concerns so this meets everyone’s needs,” said General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam.

The question of management of the Christmas Mountains has been controversial for a while.  The Christmas Mountains were donated to the state in 1991 and came with strict conservation easements. In 2006, Patterson offered to sell the land to either public or private bidders. The private option didn’t sit well with people worried about preserving the land and keeping it open to all Texans.

This morning environmental groups said they were pleased the land will stay in public hands.

“I hope that today’s announcement will spur a new generation of people going out and visiting the Big Bend region, exploring Christmas Mountains, and learning from it,” said Luke Metzger of Environment Texas.

You can learn more about the history of the Christmas Mountains in a series of features that originally aired on KUT in 2008.