In a divided political climate, I think one thing all Texans can agree upon is the unique and special nature of the Big Bend region and the need for its continued and expanded protection. This past summer Rep. Will Hurd (R-23) introduced the Big Bend National Park Boundary Adjustment Act H.R. 8093. This would allow the National Park Service to acquire land from willing private property owners via sale or donation to expand Big Bend National Park by up to 6,100 acres, having the potential to bring its total size up to 807,380 acres.
Compare Big Bend National Park at its current 801,280 acres to the 1,020,000 acres protected throughout Texas by conservation easements. Conservation easements allow private landowners to maintain ownership of their property after placing permanent development restrictions on the land; this conservation tool can be used throughout Texas. Land protected via the National Park system adds a public use component to land protection; while ensuring a large, single piece of land provides connected habitat for our native wildlife, it also welcomes the public to experience and enjoy this landscape—a piece of our environmental heritage protected for generations to come.
In a state that is 95% privately owned, we need both private protection and public protection to make sure there are natural spaces for future Texans to enjoy. Allowing willing landowners to donate or sell their land adjacent to Big Bend to expand the park ensures more land in Texas is permanently protected! We applaud Rep. Hurd for introducing this important legislation.