Presenter: Tim Hogsett
Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Motorized Trail Grant - Crockett County
I. Executive Summary: Authorization of a federal National Recreational Trails Fund grant to the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition, a not for profit organization, to acquire 3,329 acres in Crockett County for the purposes of developing it into a managed off-highway vehicle recreation area.
II. Discussion: The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) comes from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. The purpose of the NRFT is to provide funding for projects that create new and maintain existing motorized and non-motorized recreational trails. A federal requirement of the NRTF is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary.
The 78th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 155, which closed all navigable streambeds in Texas, with the exception of the Canadian and Red Rivers, to motorized recreational vehicles. That law also directed Texas Parks and Wildlife to "facilitate development of sites for motor vehicle recreation other than protected freshwater areas". Additionally, the 79th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1311, which created an off-highway vehicle trail and recreation area program under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. One of the stated purposes of this program is to establish and maintain a public system of trails and other recreational areas for use by owners and riders of off-highway vehicles.
In 2003, the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition (TMTC), a not for profit organization, submitted a grant proposal under the National Recreational Trails Fund to acquire 2,200 acres in Uvalde County to develop it into an off-road vehicle recreation area. The project was brought to the August 2003 Commission Meeting for approval but issues concerning access to the property and its proximity to the Nueces River were raised at that time. The Commission directed staff to conduct a public hearing and address environmental issues, and present this information for final project approval. That particular land acquisition was discontinued due to the property access issue. Since that time, the TMTC has been searching for a more suitable tract of land to offer this form of public recreational opportunity.
The TMTC has located a suitable 3,323-acre tract of land in Crockett County, south of Ozona, and requests Commission approval to substitute this site for the Uvalde County site. This particular site was chosen because of its remoteness, to reduce potential impacts to adjacent landowners, and low likelihood to impact natural or cultural resources. Department staff conducted a public input meeting on September 13, 2005 in Ozona at which time a number of residents voiced opposition to the project. Subsequently, a public hearing was conducted and recorded on October 6, 2005 in Ozona to identify specific issues of concern. Valid issues raised at this hearing concerning increased traffic and erosion that this proposed recreation area would generate. Access to the site is via state highways, a paved two-lane county road and a deeded easement that has been reaffirmed by the current adjacent landowner. The site contains no running streams or springs. Silt retention structures will be constructed to minimize off-site erosion run-off during storm events, prior to the site being opened to the public. Few, if any structures on adjacent properties are visible from the acquisition site and the acreage is such that buffers, or other management practices, can be considered if valid adjacent landowner issues arise.
In the November 2005 meeting, the Commission delayed consideration of this request and instructed the staff to further consider concerns raised by landowners neighboring the site. Certified letters were mailed to these landowners inviting them to express their concerns and offering to meet with them. On December 14, 2005, staff met with representatives of all surrounding property owners with the exception of one. Those attending the meeting indicated that they were all firmly opposed to the TMTC proposal, and stated that there were no conditions under which the would support the project. Since the November Commission meeting staff have received over 1,300 pieces of various types of correspondence supporting the project.
It is the position of the staff that this project will address the needs and directives identified by the Texas Legislature in Senate Bills 155 and 1311 and helps satisfy the 30 percent motorized trail funding condition of the National Recreational Trails Fund and the project should be approved.
III. Recommendation:The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:
"Funding for the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition proposal to acquire 3,323 acres in Crockett County for the purposes of developing a public off-highway vehicle recreation area in the amount of $1,359,500 is approved."
Attachments - 1
- Exhibit A - Project Location Map