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Land Deal Adds Old Baldy to Garner State Park
AUSTIN — Almost 200 acres encompassing the iconic bluff, Old Baldy, overlooking the Frio River officially became part of Garner State Park on Wednesday with the signing of real estate documents transferring ownership to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Texas Parks and Wildlife’s purchase of a 177-acre tract, which includes the knobby, 400-foot-high bluff popular with park visitors, increases the size of the Texas Hill Country park near Concan to roughly 1,600 acres. The new tract at the southernmost end of the park includes a hiking trail that climbs the river bluff and an additional 210 feet of riverfront property.
"The acquisition of the Old Baldy tract means that this signature natural feature historically identified with one of Texas’ most popular state parks will be forever protected for future generations of Garner visitors," said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. "With the state’s population putting increasing development pressure on our natural resources, it’s more important than ever to work with willing, conservation-minded landowners to acquire landmark properties like Old Baldy."
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission earlier this year gave the go-ahead for the agency to purchase the tract owned by Barbara Muennink, whose family has owned the property for more than 80 years. She sold the tract to TPWD for a price considerably less than its appraised value to help keep the land in its natural state.
Over the years, Muennink has never tried to restrict public access to the rocky bluff overlooking the scenic Frio River that most park visitors assumed was already part of state park property. In reality, only a very small part of the bluff was state-owned. Texas Parks and Wildlife staff and real estate broker Morris Killough with Texas Land & Ranch Company in Utopia worked closely with Muennink and her family to structure the Old Baldy land deal.
Funds for the Garner State Park land acquisition comes from monies allocated last year by the 81st Texas Legislature and a matching grant from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Garner State Park, perhaps best known for its dance pavilion popular with summertime visitors, records approximately 400,000 visits each year. It ranks No. 1 among 93 Texas state parks in the percentage of park visitors who stay overnight in one of the park’s many campsites, screened shelters or 17 cabins built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Garner State Park is open seven days a week. Entry fees are $6 per person 13 years and older visiting for day use only and $4 per person for individuals 13 years and older who are staying overnight. For camping fees and other information, contact Garner State Park at (830) 232-6132.
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