Presenter: Walt Dabney

Commission Agenda Item No. 3
TPW Facility Transfers
April 2002

I. DISCUSSION: Negotiations have taken place between Texas Parks and Wildlife and the City of Dalhart to consider the transfer of Lake Rita Blanca State Park to the City of Dalhart.

House Bill 2108, 76th Legislature, amended the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code to authorize grants for the interim operation and maintenance of parks owned, operated or maintained by the Department and being transferred to a governmental entity for operation and maintenance of the site. A total of $1.2 million is available for FY02 for facility transfers.

Grants will be awarded based upon a proposal from the political subdivision explaining the need for transfer grant funding and detailing the exact amount requested for operations and maintenance. The City of Dalhart has requested a grant of $397,286 to construct three lookouts for birding and associated activities, hiking trail improvements 2 restrooms, a large group pavilion, playground equipment, site boundary fencing, road improvements, and signs. With Commission approval today, Department staff will execute a grant agreement to begin the process of transfer of the site to the City of Dalhart.

Lake Rita Blanca State Park is the northernmost state park in Texas. It is located in Hartley County, on the south side of Dalhart, and consists of approximately 1668.4 acres, with Lake Rita Blanca itself covering 150 acres. The park was acquired in 1990 through a 101-year lease with Dallam and Hartley Counties for the purpose of managing bi-county property as a state park for educational and scientific study, for use and enjoyment of the general public, and for demonstration of good resource management. It was opened to the public in 1994 and became a state park in 1995. Although Lake Rita Blanca no longer has a fishing recreation opportunity, it is the second-most important wintering area in the Texas Panhandle for migratory waterfowl in the central flyway. Each year thousands of ducks and geese come to Lake Rita Blanca to winter. It is estimated that the number of geese alone generally ranges between 40,000 and 100,000. A large number of neotropical migratory birds also frequent the park each spring and summer. In addition, there is a wide variety of wildlife, including scaled quail; bald eagles; mule deer; and swift, gray, and red foxes that make their home in the park. There are no entrance fees for this day-use park, and approved activities include hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. Motorized vehicles are not permitted. The site has no on-site TPW staff.

Hartley and Dallam Counties and the City of Dalhart have entered into a written agreement to cancel the current lease with the Department and then deed the property to the City.

II. RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Executive Director is authorized to execute the necessary agreements to effect the transfer of Lake Rita Blanca State Park for operations to the City of Dalhart as a city park site. All “state park” references to the site shall be removed. The Executive Director is authorized to execute a grant agreement in the amount of $397,286 using funds from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account to effect the orderly transfer of this site."

Exhibit A – Fiscal Note (Available Upon Request)

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