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A Bulldozer Runs Through It

PEEReview - Summer 1998

On July 1, Texas PEER filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors against two top Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials for illegally approving the bulldozing of Limpia Creek, part of the protected habitat next to the Davis Mountains State Park and one of the state's prime bird watching sites. According to the PEER complaint, the agency-sanctioned construction along Limpia Creek took place without required permits under the Clean Water Act and destroyed active Common Black Hawk nesting areas in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty. Deliberate violations of these statues carry criminal penalties.

"This action to destroy habitat was financed by what is supposed to be TPWD's 'wildlife enhancement' program," stated Texas PEER Director Scott Royder who filed the complaint.

The complaint names two top TPWD officials, Gary Graham, Director of the Endangered Resources Program and Kirby Brown, Director of the Private Lands Enhancement and Public Hunting Program, as responsible for approving the project. Ironically, on the same day as the PEER complaint was filed, Graham was promoted to Director of TPWD's Wildlife Division.

TPWD authorized a private landowner to bulldoze along one mile of Limpia Creek, one of the few remaining intact southwestern riparian forests in Texas. These gallery forests of large cottonwoods, sycamores, willows and mesquites support the great majority of southwestern bird species, including the Common Black Hawk, the federal endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeaks, and the Elf Owl. "How could any competent biologist knowingly approve and participate in such an act?" asked Texas PEER Scientist Dean Keddy-Hector, a zoologist and falcon expert formerly on staff at TPWD.

Graham contended that the project was merely flood debris removal, saying "Water quality is being improved, no trees or shrubs were removed and more trees will be planted." Pointing to videotape and photographs obtained by PEER, Royder asked, "Who are you going to believe: Graham or your lying eyes?" Royder added,"The entire wooded understory of Limpia Creek was destroyed; they weren't using a bulldozer to mow the grass!"

The PEER complaint will be investigated by the U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Texas.

Limpia Creek Supporting Documents

Return to Limpia Creek Main Story


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