Everything is bigger in Texas – now that phrase can even apply to the state’s Devils River State Natural Area, which just grew by roughly 17,000 acres thanks to the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and its work to expose great public interest in acquiring more land.
Last fall, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) proposed giving the nearly 20,000 acre Devils River State Natural Area (in Val Verde County north of Del Rio) plus $8 million in exchange for Devils River Ranch, an approximately 17,000 acre plot of land north of the natural area. Easier accessibility to the ranch and river than the natural area for visitors as well as nine more miles of river frontage drove the TPWD to propose the swap.
However, the Lone Star Chapter stepped in because it was concerned about the short timeframe of the proposal, the fate of the natural area (which contains precious springs and endangered species habitat for the black-capped vireo bird among others) and the difficulty for the public to canoe or kayak the upper stretches of the Devils River.
An action alert from the chapter generated hundreds of emails expressing opposition to giving up the existing Devils River State Natural Area - the department reported that 90 percent of the communications it received were against the land swap. Additionally, the chapter leadership strengthened its relationship with the agency director and governing commission through its principled opposition to the swap and support for acquiring the additional property outright.
In late December, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted not only to keep Devils River State Natural Area, but to also raise money to add Devils River Ranch.
Now Texans and state wildlife may enjoy more of the state's great outdoors.
Read more here
(Photo of Devils River, courtesy of Mathew Sturtevant, http://www.fotomatt.com/)