Presenter: Jack Bauer
Commission Agenda Item No. 20
Land Donations – Harris County
I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been offered land donations as additions to Sheldon Lake State Park (SLSP) and San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site (SJBSHS). The purpose of this item is to provide the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) the opportunity to consider the donation proposals.
Sheldon Lake State Park: Sheldon Lake SP was originally developed and functioned as a wildlife management area (WMA). The growth of Houston around the facility greatly diminished use by wildlife through the 1980-1990’s. In 1997, TPWD received permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to convert the use of Sheldon Lake WMA to state park use. Extensive development of SLSP ensued with construction of outdoor education facilities primarily for urban youth. In April 2002, the Commission approved the addition to SLSP of approximately 101.9-acres as mitigation land to offset oil and gas pipeline ruptures during a flood of the San Jacinto River in 1994.
The Houston Area Water Corporation (HAWC) has completed permitting and construction of water treatment and associated facilities and infrastructure in southeast Houston. As part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit requirements to offset environmental impacts to wetlands as a result of the water facility improvements, a mitigation agreement has been approved that recommends the transfer of approximately 62.4-acres as a habitat addition to SLSP. The proposed addition is adjacent to the 101.9-acre parcel added to the park in 2002 and will function as watershed protection to the Western Fork of Carpenters Bayou that flows across the tract. Staff proposes the land be transferred by general warranty deed and be free and clear of all encumbrances and restrictions as evidenced by title insurance and a full environmental contaminant (Phase 1) report. The property has been fenced. Indirectly associated with the HAWC mitigation package is the development of water diversion infrastructure and water rights to supply water to SLSP for maintenance of wetland values. No additional staff will be needed as a result of this property addition to SLSP.
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site: San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located at the junction of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River, now the Houston Ship Channel southeast of Houston. The site preserves the battleground where Texas won independence from Mexico in 1836. From a historic perspective, it is one of the most significant pieces of real property in Texas. Extensive industrial and commercial development impacts the aesthetic values of the site.
TPWD has undergone planning steps to preserve battleground sites and view sheds associated with
Diamond Shamrock and subsequent owner Oxy, Inc. has been a responsible neighbor of SJBSHS in meeting conservation goals. In 1987, Diamond Shamrock conveyed to TPWD a conservation easement on 99.7 acres of land, comprising the mouth of Santa Anna Bayou and the southeast portion of the San Jacinto Marsh, which are significant landscape features of the historic battleground. A pipeline corridor extends across the property and is maintained by Oxy, Inc. Oxy, Inc. proposes to donate fee ownership of the 99.7-acre tract currently under conservation easement to TPWD to lessen liability risks of occurrence of archeological resources and use by the public. The company would retain the right to maintain and operate a multi-pipeline corridor that crosses the tract. No additional staff will be needed as a result of this property addition to SJSHS.
San Jacinto Battleground Association has acquired three lots that were originally platted within the community of San Jacinto. This association is requesting this property be donated to TPWD as part of the SJBSHS.
III. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:
"The Executive Director is authorized to take all necessary steps to acquire by donation approximately 62.4-acres at Sheldon Lake State Park and three lots and approximately 99.7-acres at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Harris County."
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