Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
National Recreational Trail Grant Funding
Off-Highway Vehicle Development – Crockett County
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Action item to award federal funds allocated under the National Recreational Trail Grants for trail construction, renovation and acquisition projects. Obligates federal National Recreational Trail Funds to eligible trail projects based upon the recommendations of the Texas Trails Advisory Board. Funding for the development of the Crockett County Off-highway Vehicle Recreation Area project sponsored by the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition.

II. Discussion: In June 2005, the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition (TMTC) submitted a grant proposal under the National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) program to acquire 3300 +/- acres of property in Crockett County for the purpose of developing an off-highway vehicle recreation trail park. The project was recommended for funding by the State Trails Advisory Board and placed on the January 2006 Commission agenda for funding consideration. Testimony was given by supporters about the need for such a recreational facility as well as from adjacent landowners about the impacts that the area would create to their livelihoods and way of life. The Commission approved grant funding for the acquisition with the condition that no development or public use of the property be permitted until the sponsor completed satisfactory environmental assessments as well as development and management plans that adequately addresses adjacent landowner concerns.

Archeology and endangered species surveys of the property were completed and a meeting with adjacent landowners held to better understand their concerns. The information gained from these efforts helped guide the creation of the management and development plan for the recreation area. The resource protection plans have been submitted to the appropriate resource protection agencies for review and comment. On September 17, 2007, a public meeting was conducted in Ozona, Texas to present and gather feedback and public comment of the draft management and development plan. The TMTC President and Department staff met with the adjacent landowner whose property contains structures closest to the recreation area prior to the public meeting. While these landowners still do not welcome this new land use in their area, they appear to be more at ease with the management practices proposed by TMTC and the sponsor's commitment to be "good neighbors." Utilizing a local feature, the property has been named the Escondido Draw Recreational Area.

Based upon these efforts, staff recommends that the Commission approve a NRTF grant of $400,000 for the development of the Escondido Draw Recreational Area.. The 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 four-wheelers. The purpose of the NRTF 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. Approval of funding for this project will help satisfy this federal requirement as well as current the state legislative directive to the Department to create opportunities to engage in motorized trail recreation activities.

III. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"Funding for development of the Escondido Draw Recreational Area in Crockett County in the amount of $400,000 is approved."