Big Bend Ranch State Park Expansion Expected

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department could close a West Texas land deal Thursday that will net an additional 578 acres for the public and the possibility of expanded access to the state’s biggest park.

The exchange would involve swapping 607 acres of public land for 1,185 acres of the private, neighboring LaMota Ranch.

At 310,000 acres, Big Bend Ranch State Park is massive — and, in its piecemeal conglomeration, quiltlike: Since the initial 212,528-acre acquisition in 1988, a number of tracts have been added, leaving the park with nearly 100 miles of boundary in common with private landowners.

The lightly visited park lies to the west of the more popular Big Bend National Park and is a favorite of mountain bikers and backcountry campers who seek the solitude it offers.

Complex ownership histories, topography and the challenges of building fences on the rough landscape mean that management boundaries are often boundaries of convenience, state officials say.

One of the neighboring private properties is LaMota Ranch, which had donated more than 13,000 acres to the parks department in 2000. Now LaMota owners want to square up and fence in some of their land: The deal would reduce the boundary between the state and the ranch by 5 miles.

The deal “simplifies knowing where the property line is, which is better for TPWD and our neighbor — the existing boundary wanders around,” said Tom Harvey, a spokesman for the agency.

Full Story at Austin American Statesman

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