• July 7, 2020

Balmorhea State Park set to expand - Odessa American: News

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Balmorhea State Park set to expand

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Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 11:47 am

AUSTIN Balmorhea State Park is gaining some elbow room after a 643-acre land acquisition was recently completed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This acquisition, which was seven years in the making, will increase the size of the 108-acre park seven-fold to a total of 751-acres and increase future opportunities for nature trails, nature watching and scenic overlooks.

“This is an exciting acquisition not only from a conservation standpoint but also the opportunity to increase recreational activity for our visitors,” Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, stated in a news release. “Wildlife viewing and hiking are core activities at our parks and providing more space for this is critically important particularly at Balmorhea State Park.  I am very thankful for everyone involved in making this happen as it will impact the park for years to come.”

Included in the acquisition is Carpenters Hill, which was originally part of the historic landscape of the park when built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Once the land is available for the public to access, visitors can enjoy scenic overlooks from Carpenters Hill and explore new trails through the West Texas landscape.

Access to this new land will not be available for some time, but TPWD will be sure to keep the public informed of new information regarding the site.

This acquisition was purchased through federal Land and Water Conservation Funds and land sale proceeds. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing, and provides grants to the states to help strengthen communities, invest in parks, preserve our history and protect our local, state, and national collection of lands and waters.

Work is still underway on multiple construction projects at Balmorhea State Park, including removal and replacement of all existing septic systems, replacement of the chain-link fence surrounding the pool to one made of wrought iron and limestone, reconstruction of the CCC pergola, completion of repairs to the campground and San Solomon Courts, and renovations to the manager’s house and concession building, the release said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Stephanie Garcia said there is no master plan in the works for additional features to the park because the land won’t be available for some time.

The park is currently closed and details about an expected reopening date will be announced later.

 “We were really excited. It was seven years in the making, so we’re excited that we’re able to bring this land to the people of Texas for them to enjoy the park,” Garcia said.

Odessa, TX

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