December 18, 2006
A matter of priorities

This is a nice story about the efforts of San Antonio to buy land in the surrounding areas as a means of maintaining a sufficient recharge zone for the Edwards Aquifer. Everything about this, from the way it got approved by voters to the purchasing of cheaper land in Medina and Uvalde Countiesand so on, strikes me as a good idea and good implementation. Kudos to all for that.

One thing in the piece bugs me, however:

Jeff Francell, director of land protection at the Texas Nature Conservancy, said San Antonio's initiative "is going to have a major impact in the future on water quality, on protection of the aquifer and sprawl, to some degree."


Francell said private land trusts are growing in Texas as well.

"Many of them are small and local but active. They're relying on donations of easements from longtime landowners, or new buyers of land who want to protect their property and see the financial benefits of donating easements," Francell said.

The trusts are increasingly important in an era where insufficient state funds are devoted to acquisition of parks and preserves, Francell said.

"The state parks don't have two cents to rub together now. Private buyers are the only hope," he said.

Uh, no. State parks have no money because the powers that be don't consider them a priority, and therefore do not fund them at a sustainable level. That's a matter of policy, and it's something that can, and hopefully someday soon will, change in Texas. In the meantime, private trusts are a decent enough stopgap, but that's all they are. The real hope is that the government will take its job of stewarding our natural resources seriously.

This is not a matter of not having enough money to fund our park system. As we all know, the state currently has more money than it knows what to do with. That won't always be the case, of course, but we are not operating in a 2003 record-deficit climate. The Governor and the Lege chose to cut the budget in many places to deal with that. Restoring, or in this case not restoring, those cuts, is also a choice. Maybe that's a choice you agree with, but it's still a choice. We could choose differently, and that's why Francell's statement about private trusts being the "only hope" is wrong.

UPDATE: B and B has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 18, 2006 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

Thanks for highlighting the San Antonio efforts to preserve undeveloped land over the aquifer recharge zone.

Indeed, private trusts aren't the 'only hope', but the only other realistic hope for the near term appears to be local initiatives such as this, and not state action.

I have a post on this at B and B that I was writing up when I noticed your post.

Posted by: P.M.Bryant on December 18, 2006 7:48 PM

If the Nature Conservancy is involved, you would be wise to investigate closely. Ask what the REAL long range goal is of the Nature Conservancy. Ranchers and landowners in the western states are well aware of how the Nature Conservancy operates. Refer to Range Magazine, Winter 2007 Edition, pg.30. That organization ain't what it seems and it ain't pretty, either.
Just a heads up that you are dealing with a real "trojan horse".

Posted by: TCole on December 18, 2006 8:17 PM