Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced today intentions to transfer the Christmas Mountains to the Texas State University system. This would make the land an "outdoor classroom, open to all — including hunters — with conservation of the land guaranteed forever."

Today's announcement is a major departure from the fall of 2007, when Patterson proposed selling the mountains to private interests, despite an agreement to keep the land in public hands. After a public outcry and extended campaign from Environment Texas, Patterson abandoned this plan. But he also rejected an offer by Big Bend National Park to purchase and protect the land, citing the park’s prohibition on hunting. 

And so, the fate of the Mountains was left in limbo – until today. 

We at Environment Texas would have liked to see Big Bend acquire the Christmas Mountains — but this transfer is an acceptable, attractive alternative. 

Geology, archaeology and biology students at Sul Ross State, Sam Houston State, Lamar University and other Texas State campuses will get to explore the mountains, expanding our knowledge of this unique natural treasure. 

Further, the mountains will remain open to the public, with access directly from Big Bend National Park. And conservation easements in place guarantee the property will remain wild and undeveloped.   

I’m confident that under the protection of the Texas State University system, they will be well-cared for and a new generation of Texans will get to experience their beauty.