As officials describe, the sale has reportedly been in the works for years. However, funding for the purchase, which totals $780,000, has been raised by the nonprofit. Currently, the land is being surveyed before the sale closes.
The previous owners of the land, the Fulcher family, sold the property in hopes of conservation. Since the Texas national park cannot buy land outside of federal bounds, the conservancy acts as the facilitator. For the purchase to go through, new legislation must pass to change the park’s perimeters.
The park and the nonprofit have worked with former U.S. Congressman Will Hurd to pass the bill. Now, both groups are working with U.S. Congressman Tony Gonzales.
“I can’t say enough about the Fulcher family and their commitment to ensuring that this space became indefinitely preserved because there’s so many development opportunities in the area — they very easily could have handed over the land to any number of developers,” said executive director and CEO of the Big Bend Conservancy, Loren Riemer.
The investment also marks the first step in the nonprofit’s goal to enlarge the park by 6,000 acres. Now, nearly 4,000 acres will include the Fulcher property.
Big Bend National Park hopes to continue to expand, will not force landowners to sell
According to Riemer, the conservancy continues to work with surrounding landowners about potentially buying other unused plots. However, the conservation organization wants to make clear that they will not take any land with the use of force. As Riemer describes, no landowner in the area will be forced to sell under any circumstance.
While an additional 4,000 acres may not seem like much compared to the park’s 800,000-acreage, the conservancy believes it’s essential to preserve its natural beauty.
“All of the precious resources included in that space, I think, create a very important addition to the park,” said Reimer. “Especially being on that western boundary, where you see ever increasing development on that Terlingua, Study Butte side.”
The property was also previously used briefly for ranching decades ago. In addition, the property features several historical sites unique to the area, including ruins, cemeteries, a schoolhouse, and more.
According to Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker, the additional acreage will help them continue worthwhile projects pertinent to the park.
While Krumenaker said they’re not planning to create trails for the public, visitors can access the area once the land is officially a part of the park.
“If intrepid explorers want to explore that property, and conduct themselves as they would elsewhere in the national park, they’ll be encouraged to do so. But it’ll be a discovery experience for people,” said Krumenaker.