2000 - BUSH
PLANS FOR PRIVATIZING STATE PARKS
Luxury "Nature Lodges"
Slated for 24 Parks
Austin...In a quiet move to convert the state park and wildlife system
into a for-profit operation, Governor George W. Bush has sent out
requests for proposal for the construction of 24 privately-managed
"nature lodging" projects to hoteliers and resort developers, according
to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (Texas PEER). Targeted
parks include the crown jewels of the state system, such as Davis
Mountains, Big Bend Ranch, Guadalupe River, Pedernales Falls, the
newly acquired Chinati Mountain lands of West Texas as well as wildlife
management areas containing habitat for threatened and endangered
Project configuration will be up to developers, but other "nature
lodgings" built by the solicited companies feature hotels with rooms
renting for $200 a night, conference centers, restaurants and shops.
Besides the primary purpose of revenue production, nature lodging
is supposed to combine contact with nature and comfortable accommodations.
In a recent University of Texas survey of state wildlife managers,
six out of seven opposed the nature lodging concept because it detracted
from wildlife conservation and research. Several of the targeted parks
are already struggling to reduce human impacts upon threatened resident
Noting that Texas has less than three percent of its lands set aside
in public parks and reserves, TexasPEER Staff Scientist Dean Keddy-Hector,
a former zoologist with the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife,
commented: "Putting hotels in critical wildlife habitats evidences
a leadership profoundly unclear on the concept of conservation. This
is an irresponsible plan to ‘Disney-fy' the few remaining patches
of Texas wild lands."
The Bush plan to transform public parks into privately managed revenue
centers follows the prescriptions of conservative think tanks such
as the Cato Institute.
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· P.O. Box 1522; Austin TX ·
441-4941 · txpeer@PEER.org