Nature Preserve condemned by local government
I saw this story at Nature Noted: Exploring the world of Land Trusts:
In what is being called an unprecedented action, a county in Texas has begun condemnation proceedings against an entire nature preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy on South Padre Island.Here's the story the blogger cited:
The issue is over a plan to open a ferry service between the mainland and the island in an attempt to foster tourism. TNC has owned the 1,500 acre preserve on the island for five years, and wants to maintain the pristine condition of the wilderness area. Willacy County officials see the wild island as a tourist draw ... So after a stalemate, the county is pulling out its big option, eminent domain.
Nature area faces condemnation
by James Pinkerton Dec. 18, 2005
The county's district attorney said commissioners are looking to purchase only a small part of the preserve for beach access for a ferry landing. But he acknowledged that the commissioners court caused suspicion earlier this month when it ordered a condemnation suit to take the entire preserve through eminent domain.
"I'm not aware of any instance in the Nature Conservancy's 40-year history in Texas in which a local government has attempted to condemn a nature preserve," Carter Smith (state director of TNC) said. "We will be fighting this vigorously."
Carter called the threatened condemnation "a real assault on the sanctity of private property rights and private land conservation in this state."
Governor Rick Perry allowed the Texas eminent domain legislation to be added to a special legislative session this summer. Perry's decision came after a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Connecticut case that upheld a city's authority to condemn private homes and then sell the property to commercial developers as part of an effort to increase jobs and expand the city's tax base.
The 1,500-acre island preserve is part of a 24,500-acre tract the Nature Conservancy purchased for $7.5 million from a Houston firm, after plans for a large-scale residential and marina development on the site failed. The conservation group sold, at below its cost, the majority of the island acreage to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand an existing federal wildlife refuge.
Technorati Tags: Conservation, Nature, Nature Conservancy, Ecology, Condemnation, Eminent Domain