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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

Additional Contacts: James King, (432) 426-2390, Ext. 2

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Oct. 9, 2006

Advisory Committee To Review Big Bend Ranch State Park

PRESIDIO, Texas — A newly appointed advisory committee is taking a fresh look at one of the state’s natural treasures, examining ways to improve natural and cultural resource conservation, public use and visitor access at Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Joseph B. C. Fitzsimons appointed the Big Bend Ranch State Park Advisory Committee, which held its first, organizational meeting at the park Sept. 20.

Committee members are Bob Armstrong of Austin, the former TPW and General Land Office commissioner who helped lead efforts to acquire the park for the state, Jim Carrico of Terlingua, Tyrus Fain of Marathon, Hall Hammond of San Antonio, Thomas Johnson of Austin, James King of Ft. Davis, and Fran Sage of Alpine. Another member from Presidio County will be appointed soon. Mike Hill, state parks regional director with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Fort Davis, will serve as liaison between the committee and the park staff.

The committee will examine the access needs of visitors and consider the appropriate numbers and locations of campsites and trails. It will also look at ways potential visitors can become better informed about the approximately 300,000-acre park, by far the largest in the entire state park system. Members will work with regional and state tourism partners, local communities, as well as other federal and state facilities in the area. One of the issues the committee must grapple with is how to protect park resources while trying to significantly increase public use.

At its first meeting, the committee met with department employees who presented background information on different facets of the park and issues for its future use and conservation. The Committee will review the draft Public Use Plan for the park and make recommendations on implementing the plan.

The committee elected King chair and Hammond vice chair and then organized into subcommittees to carry out its charge. The next meeting will be in early January with a conference call to be held in-between.

“We are all enthusiastic about working with great Texas Parks and Wildlife staff to increase visitors and to see the park made more accessible while protecting the fragile desert land and the site’s cultural heritage,” King said.

King pointed out the variety of activities possible now such as camping, horseback riding, jeep touring, hiking, mountain biking, and various workshops available several times a year, as well as the longhorn cattle drive twice a year. He went on to say other activities such as star-gazing, birding, educational outings, geological study and expanded public-private partnerships could become future possibilities.

“Big Bend Ranch State Park is an undiscovered jewel of the state park system, and we want more people to come visit and experience this wilderness treasure,” King concluded.

For more information about Big Bend Ranch State Park, see the park Web page.

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