In a victory for conservation, Big Bend National Park is set to expand by nearly 4,000 acres.
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The Big Bend Conservancy is expecting to close on a 3,815-acre parcel of land west of the current boundary. The deal has been in nthe works for years, but should finalize in early 2023. It is currently being surveyed. Once the $780,000 purchase is made, the Conversancy will donate the land to the National Park. Legally, the deal must be sturctured like this because The National Park is not allowed to make purchases outside of its federal boundary. The Conservancy acts as the park’s designated philanthropic partner and intermediary to complete the transactions. This is the first transaction for the two partners since they aligned in 1996.
Loren Riemer is the executive director and CEO of the Big Bend Conservancy and gave credit to both parties involved.
“I can’t say enough about the Fulcher family and their commitment to ensuring that this space became indefinitely preserved,” Reimer told reporters. “There’s so many development opportunities in the area. They very easily could have handed over the land to any number of developers.”
This is just the first phase of an expansion goal of 6,000 total acres. The Conservancy is currently in negotiations with several land owners adjacent to the park to meet that final number.
Big Bend is massive, and spans over 800,000 acres. It may seem like an extra 6,000 is insignifcant but with COP15 goals of ’30 by 30,’ each acre matters. These specific acres added something unique.
“All of the precious resources included in that space, I think, create a very important addition to the park,” Reimer told the Big Bend Sentinel. “Especially being on that western boundary, where you see ever increasing development on that Terlingua, Study Butte side.”
Where is the expansion?
The newspaper reports that the property located near the confluence of Rough Run and Terlingua Creek. It also stated that it was used as a ranch at one point, but has been abandoned for years. There is only one road onto the property but it has been left in disrepari.
The benefit to the park is that there are gains to be made with significant watersheds and riparian areas. It is also said to have paleontological opportunities as well as historic sites that can help provide context to the region.
Future plans include a cottonwood restoration project to expand the population of gray hawks and yellow-billed cuckoos that naturally reside on the property. It is also an opportunity to save the endangered minnow.