We applaud the School Land Board for rejecting bids by private interests to buy the Christmas Mountains. The Christmas Mountains were donated to the people of Texas to be used as a public wilderness area and the sale to private interests was contrary to the wishes of the land's original donors and of more than 10,000 Texans who submitted comments to the Commissioner Patterson and the Board.
We are also pleased that the mountains will be opened up for responsible public access with a permanent easement given to the adjacent Big Bend National Park. Texans who hike or ride into the mountains will be rewarded with a spectacular view.
While we are generally very happy with the Board's decision, we were disappointed that one of its members - Commissioner Patterson - continues to block acquisition of the mountains by the National Park Service (NPS), despite the support of a such a proposal by the two other members, David Herrmann and Todd Barth. NPS has put together a great proposal (below) to permanently protect the mountains as part of Big Bend National Park, and their proposal should be given due consideration.