“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”
Some months ago I was approached by Bob Krumenaker, Superintendent for Big Bend National Park, who was seeking support for two things: a 3500 acre addition that sits along Terlingua Creek and the inclusion of the park into the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The extra acreage was simple enough for me, my family had ranched some of that area many years ago. I learned it fairly well as a boy, working cattle through there horseback and knew some of the history, as well as sites containing ruins, graves and other items of archaeological interest.
A few of those sites likely predate Terlingua Abaja, which is often referred to erroneously as the first settlement along Terlingua Creek. To be more precise, it was the first settlement along the creek to survive. Up to a point in time, the Comanche, the Kiowa, and the Apache saw to that.
However the wilderness designation was new to me , so I had to do some research before committing myself. What it basically means is what has been touched by man’s hand stays there, but nothing else will be allowed for perpetuity. No more development of any sort, period.
Now some might say this is redundant, as the land is already in the park system. I tend to disagree, as plans for some of the greatest damage to this country were proposed after Big Bend National Park was created.
Early on ideas were bandied about such as building a monorail to the South Rim or a paved highway to the top of Anguila Mesa. In fact, I have seen period maps with that highway actually having an official designation. Thankfully, none of this ever came to being.
Yet there were other detrimental programs actually enacted and enforced, as in the so-called ‘back to nature’ program.
The results were disastrous. Whether by bulldozer blade or high explosives, many structures erected by pioneer families and those who came before, were turned to rubble or blown to oblivion. Space does not permit the listing of dozens of locales where this occurred, but I can provide ample evidence to these tragic miscalculations.
Bear in mind this is not a damnation of the National Park Service, for without them everything inside the Chisos would now look like Lajitas and everything outside would look like Terlingua Ranch. Mistakes were made with the best of intentions, and everyone realizes where that road too often leads.
I mentioned Lajitas and Terlingua Ranch. Both were nothing but mostly ruins and empty spaces when I was young. Never would I have ever believed that such a change could occur in my lifetime.
And yet it did and there is no turning back now. This wilderness designation will keep it from ever happening inside the proposed seventy percent of land residing within park boundaries.
After some serious thought and looking at the question from every possible angle, I threw my full support behind the idea. Since then, I have spoken with congressmen, done interviews, appeared before groups, and discussed the proposal with an assortment of local people. No one has been dead set against once made aware of what this means and does not mean.
The biggest controversies comes from the federal government being involved, and rightfully so. But there are no disadvantages here to anyone, not the local businessman, the private land owner, the teeming masses from urbania or my fellow West Texans.
For once, this just might be a win-win proposition for everyone involved. To learn more about the program, you can follow the links below.
We all need room to roam, folks, and a place where we can take our descendants to show them what it really means to be a Texan, as well as an American.
This is where it all began, with land to roam in every direction.
And when it’s gone, it’s gone…
God bless to all and please feel free to share,
Ben H. English
Ben H. English
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
‘Graying but still game’
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