Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Jason Estrella

Exchange of Driveway Easements – Bexar County
Approximately 1 Acre at the Government Canyon State Natural Area
January 21, 2021

I.     Executive Summary:  The Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) staff has been working with the landowner of an inholding in Government Canyon State Natural Area (SNA) to replace an existing access easement with one that will result in less potential harm to natural resources and park operations.

II.    Discussion:  Government Canyon SNA consists of approximately 12,000 acres situated along the edge of the Balcones Escarpment on the northwest side of San Antonio.  The SNA is a karst preserve protecting the quality and supply of fresh water to the Edwards Aquifer, where topography and stratigraphy recharge the aquifer through a series of subterranean cracks and caves.  The SNA protects thousands of acres of the aquifer’s recharge zone, as well as portions of the contributing and artesian zones.  In addition, these crevices, fissures, and springs are home to several endangered invertebrates found nowhere else in the world.

A landowner whose home resides on an inholding in the northeast section of the SNA has a driveway easement that has never been developed and runs through a very sensitive area of the park, including a cave occupied by endangered species.  A conservation easement prohibits park development in this area, but the access easement predates the conservation easement.  Construction of a driveway on this existing easement would cause severe damage to natural resources.  The landowner currently uses the driveway of an adjacent landowner to access his property, but that neighbor’s property has been offered for sale and future access by the existing driveway is in doubt.  SNA staff and the landowner have agreed to a new driveway route west of the current easement that will allow for easier road development if needed and minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources. Staff recommends exchanging the existing easement for the proposed easement to eliminate any possibility for future development of the existing easement.

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

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the Resolution attached as Exhibit A.”

Attachments – 4

  1. Exhibit A – Resolution
  2. Exhibit B – Location Map
  3. Exhibit C – Vicinity Map
  4. Exhibit D – Premises Map

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

A Resolution by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Regarding the Exchange of Driveway Easements Covering Approximately 1 Acre of Real Property in Bexar County


Whereas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) owns and operates Government Canyon State Natural Area (SNA) for a variety of recreation and conservation values, including the protection of the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer; and,

Whereas, the owner of an inholding (Landowner) requests the exchange of a previously granted, undeveloped access easement for a new access route; and,

Whereas, the undeveloped access easement currently goes through an extremely sensitive area of the SNA; and,

Whereas, the Landowner has agreed to exchange a driveway access easement of approximately 1 acre of land for a driveway access easement of similar size and value; and,

Whereas, the proposed exchange would result in minimized damage from development and higher protection for natural resource; and,

Whereas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) finds that as required by Texas Parks and Wildlife Code (PWC) chapter 26, notices of today’s hearing of this matter were published at least once a week for three consecutive weeks in newspapers of general circulation which are published at least six days a week in the communities nearest to the state park (SP) in which such newspapers are published (the San Antonio Express-News in Bexar County), with the last day of publication being not less than one week or more than two weeks before the date of today’s hearing; and,

Whereas, the Commission finds, in accordance with PWC chapter 26, that (1) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use or taking of such land (Easement);  (2) the program or project that requires the use of an Easement includes all reasonable planning to minimize harm to the land; and,

Whereas, the Commission finds that the grant of an Easement subject to conditions that will minimize harm of the Easement to the SP is in accordance with PWC section 11.301; and,

Now, therefore, the Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to negotiate terms and conditions under which an Easement may be granted, and to grant an Easement to the Landowner, for the purposes and subject to the conditions described herein and in the motion approved in this Resolution.

Adopted and approved this 21st day of January, 2021.

S. Reed Morian, Chairman

Arch “Beaver” Aplin, III, Vice-Chairman

James E. Abell, Member

Oliver J. Bell, Member

Anna B. Galo, Member

Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Member

Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

Robert L. “Bobby” Patton, Jr., Member

Dick Scott, Member

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit B

Location Map for Government Canyon State Natural Area in Bexar County

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit C

Vicinity Map for Government Canyon State Natural Area,
Northwest of San Antonio

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit D

Premises Map for the Requested Driveway Easement Swap
Original Easement in Green
Proposed Easement in Yellow
Government Canyon State Natural Area Outlined in Red