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TPWD Looking to Sell Part of Palo Duro Canyon’s Fortress Cliff Ranch
AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department got the go-ahead today from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission to provide public notice of the pending sale of 2,014 acres of the state-owned Fortress Cliff Ranch overlooking Palo Duro Canyon.
A key part of the purchase agreement for the property is the inclusion of a conservation easement to be held in perpetuity by TPWD that prevents any development near the rim and limits subdividing the property in the future into only two tracts. The property to be sold includes a modern ranch house, roughly 1,000 acres of grassland and mixed brush, a side canyon and a quarter mile of the canyon rim.
TPWD, working with the Trust for Public Land, acquired the valuable ranchland overlooking the renowned 29,000-acre park in a dual transaction straddling 2008-2009. The acquisition was made primarily to protect the views from the park of seven miles of cliffs targeted for possible development that would have allowed small, canyon-front home lots.
“With the sale of much of the Fortress Cliff property, the agency is staying true to its original stated intent and plan to protect the cliffs and the park’s view shed, and make the best use of our limited funds by selling the ranch house and uplands at some future date,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “A perpetual conservation easement will ensure the land’s important wildlife conservation values are permanently protected. We will use the proceeds from this sale to acquire state park property elsewhere in Texas, where we have many high-priority needs.”
TPWD staff told the commission that a purchase offer has been presented with terms and conditions believed to be in the best interest of TPWD.
TPWD used computer modeling and site visits to map views from the park, evaluate recreational access and outline public use options to come up with the December 2010 property listing. After the sale, TPWD will retain ownership of roughly 850 acres of the original 2,912-acre Fortress Cliff Ranch lands as part of Palo Duro Canyon State Park that will be integrated into existing resource management and public use plans.
“A plan for public use has not been developed yet, but it is anticipated that the Fortress Cliffs property we retain will allow park visitors to be able some day to access the rim via a hiking trail to enjoy the spectacular views of the canyon below,” Smith said.
The Fortress Cliffs property, formerly Tub Springs Ranch, is located about 15 miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall and Armstrong counties. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located about 12 miles east of Canyon on State Highway 217. For more information, contact the park at (806) 488-2227.
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