scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Texas Camping
Ken Faris (kfaris@FLASH.NET
Thu Nov 25 1999 - 12:49:11 CST
Big Bend National Park :
In the 1930's many people who loved the Big Bend country saw that it was a
land of unique contrast and beauty that was worth preserving for future
generations. The State of Texas passed legislation to acquire land in the
area which was to become the Texas Canyons State Park. In 1935, the Federal
Government passed legislation that would enable the acquisition of the land
for a national park. The State of Texas deeded the land, (for 130 million
dollars and the right to retain imminent domain over the property,) that
they had acquired to the Federal government, and on June 12, 1944, Big Bend
National Park became a reality.
At the same time Big Bend Ranch State Park was created which contains almost
300, 000 acres of land, roughly next door to Big Bend NP.
Guadalupe National Park:
Jesse Coleman (J.C.) Hunter first moved to Van Horn, Texas in 1911, to serve
as Superintendent of Schools. J.C. Hunter also served as Director and Vice
President of the Van Horn State Bank, was a Culberson County Judge and
Treasurer, was successful in the oil and gas business, and he was a rancher.
J.C. Hunter began buying land in the Guadalupe Mountains in 1923 and by the
1940s he owned 43,000 acres, including John Smith's Frijole Ranch. His
"Guadalupe Mountains Ranch" concentrated on raising Angora goats, sheep,
cattle, and horses. At one time, 22 tons of mohair wool were produced
annually by 4000 Angora goats. The mountain high country was used as summer
range for livestock; water pumped from lowland springs by pipeline to metal
storage tanks on top was crucial to its survival. The Frijole Ranch house
served as ranch headquarters for J.C. Hunter's foreman, Noel Kincaid and his
family from 1942 to 1969.
Hunter was an early conservationist and initiated the first attempts to make
the region a park in 1925. The idea failed to gain momentum and was dropped.
Because Hunter continued to hope for a park in the future, he permitted only
limited hunting on the ranch and allowed no grazing in McKittrick Canyon.
Under his stewardship, elk, turkey, and rainbow trout were returned, or
introduced, to the Guadalupe Mountains ecosystem.
In 1945, J.C. Hunter's son, J.C. Hunter, Junior, inherited the ranch.
Although mayor of Abilene and a successful oil man, Mr. Hunter took an
active interest in his lands in the Guadalupe Mountains. By 1965 he had
purchased additional lands and the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch totaled 67,312
acres. In 1966, he fulfilled his father's dream and sold the ranch to the
National Park Service, at the bargain price of $1.5 million, or about $22
By the Texas Constitutional Law of 1876 which by the way is 81,000 words
long with 1 sentence containing 765 words and several other sentences over
300 words in length, this was considered an illegal act. ( For a private
individual to sell land to the federal government.) A special law was
passed that allowed the sell to go through. Again in the sell documents,
Texas retained control and imminent domain over the land. The federal
government operates the land in conjunction with the Texas Parks and
That is a short historical lesson about those two particular parks. There
are eleven other such sites in the state of Texas that contain some sort of
The point of the original thread concerned camping on "private land" it was
a simple statement in the beginning that has grown into quite a thread.
Texas is a huge state in terms of miles and distances to any of these
preservations. The large land base preservations are in the far western
part of the state. 79% of the Texas population lives in the eastern part of
the state. If a person uses I-35 as a dividing line which runs North to
South, roughly from Fort Worth down through Austin and on down to Corpus
Cristi. You will also note that all major cities, where most of the Scout
population resides, is in the eastern 1/3 of the state. It evolved into the
fact that state parks are very restrictive when it comes to taking scouts
camping. Somehow from that point it has evolved into a Federal land vs.
State land discussion. I think that has mainly been my fault.
Because of the distances involved in our state, private land camping is
almost an absolute must for good quality scouting here. As I said in
earlier post if National was to enact a rule of, "no private land camping,"
then we would adapt and conform. For any of you that may be interested I
have an excellent ".gif" image that shows the state of Texas and the layout
of "Federal" parks. If you view it you begin to see the distance and time
issue involved for Texas scouts to get to these lands.
Also concerning "National Forest," there are 4 in Texas with the same type
of restrictions. The biggest issue for Scouts is safety. In Texas there is
almost year round hunting of some sort. There are also still many
"squatter" issues to be worked out. When we try and take Scouts into these
forest, safety becomes a very big concern. Texas is still Texas we have
many, many people who carry weapons and firearms all the time. The fact is
these,"National Forest," for the most part are unsafe for Scouts.
I apologize for the length of this posting.