Commission Agenda Item No. 6
WITHDRAWN AS A COMMISSION ACTION ITEM
Presenter:  Scott Boruff

Action
Val Verde County Land Project
November 4, 2010

I.       Executive Summary:  Staff requests action on a proposal involving a land exchange and purchase to acquire land on the Devils River in Val Verde County for a new state park or state natural area.

II.     Discussion:  The Devils Ranch (the Ranch) consists of 17,600+ acres at the confluence of the Devils River and Amistad Reservoir (Rio Grande River) in Val Verde County.  The tract has good access and existing infrastructure, healthy habitat, and outstanding cultural resources in the form of world-class rock art sites.  In addition, the ranch includes approximately ten miles of frontage on the Devils River and Amistad Reservoir, and is contiguous with the Amistad National Recreation Area, consisting of some 67,000 acres including the American shore of the reservoir. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) would exchange the Devils River State Natural Area (SNA) in partial payment for the acquisition.  The SNA has roughly two miles of frontage on the river, and has been problematic for development and public access due to poor access roads, poor internal roads, and distance from the nearest city of Del Rio. As a result, only about 1200 people visited the SNA last year.

The Ranch, which already has a conservation easement on it, held by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), would replace the SNA, which has an identical conservation easement on it, as the destination site for public access to the Devils River.  The two properties have been appraised.  The difference in the value of the two sites would be paid largely from appropriated acquisition funds, Land and Water Conservation funds and donated funds.

III.    Recommendation:  The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts by Resolution in Exhibit A, the provisions of this land exchange and purchase in Val Verde County."

Attachments — 4

1.      Exhibit A – Resolution

2.      Exhibit B – Location Map

3.      Exhibit C – Vicinity Map

4.      Exhibit D – Site Map


Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit A

A Resolution by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Regarding the Exchange and Purchase of Real Property in Val Verde County

Whereas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff have recommended that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) approve a transaction to exchange the 19,988.63-acre Devils River State Natural Area (SNA) in Val Verde County, Texas for the 17,637.62-acre Devils River Ranch (Ranch) in Val Verde County, and to pay to the Seller of the Ranch the difference in appraised value;

Whereas, the Ranch has superior access 45 minutes by automobile from Del Rio, and recreational amenities including ten miles of frontage on the Devils River and Amistad International Reservoir for use and enjoyment of present and future generations;

Whereas, the SNA which is 2 hours by automobile from Del Rio, has poor access subject to washouts and other periods of inaccessibility, and possesses only two miles of frontage on the Devils River;

Whereas, the SNA was visited by approximately 1200 people in 2009, falling far short of its capacity for public use and underscoring its inherent limitations for development and operation as a state park or state natural area;

Whereas, the Ranch would serve far greater purpose and benefit to the TPWD and the people of Texas than the SNA;

Whereas, the SNA is protected from future subdivision and development incompatible with conservation purposes by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy;

Whereas, the Commission finds, in accordance with Chapter 26 and Section 13.009 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code that (1) ownership of the SNA is no longer in the best interest TPWD; (2) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the exchange of the SNA for the Ranch; and (3) as a result of the conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy, the exchange  includes all reasonable planning to minimize harm to the SNA resulting from the exchange.

Now, therefore, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to transfer the SNA in exchange and as partial consideration for the Ranch.

Adopted and approved this 4th day of November 2010.

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Peter M. Holt, Chairman

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T. Dan Friedkin, Vice-Chairman

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Mark E. Bivins, Member

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Ralph H. Duggins, Member

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Antonio Falcon M.D., Member

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Karen J. Hixon, Member

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Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Member

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Margaret Martin, Member

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S. Reed Morian, Member


Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit B

Location of Devils River Ranch in Val Verde County

Location of Devils River Ranch in Val Verde County

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit C

Vicinity Map for the Devils River Project Area

Vicinity Map for the Devils River Project Area

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit D

Site Map of Devils River SNA (in green) and Devils River Ranch (in blue)

Site Map of Devils River SNA (in green) and Devils River Ranch (in blue)

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