Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson won't let the National Park Service protect the Christmas Mountains as part of Big Bend National Park because he doesn't agree with their policies on guns.
If Patterson wants to change those policies, he should call his Congressman, not hold the Christmas Mountains hostage just to spite the Park Service.
The good news is that Patterson is only one of three votes on the School Land Board, the body which will decide what to do with the Christmas Mountains. The other two members are appointees of Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Please join more than 2,000 Texans who have signed our petition to Gov. Perry and Attorney General Abbott asking them to direct their appointees to stop the sale of the Christmas Mountains. SIGN PETITION
Also, listen for a story about the Christmas Mountains this afternoon on NPR's All Things Considered. Below is an editorial from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that does a great job clearing the air about the Christmas Mountains and guns.
"Not a gun issue"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial - Oct. 18, 2007
The National Park Service is an ideal candidate to acquire a pristine, undeveloped site adjacent to Big Bend National Park in West Texas, but Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is foolishly opposing such a move.
Patterson, a fervent gun rights advocate, opposes selling the park service the 9,269-acre Christmas Mountains site because it would not allow public hunting or possession of firearms on the property.
Patterson, who appears determined to proceed with a state sale of the property to a private bidder as soon as Nov. 6, believes that the Park Service's policy is "an unconstitutional ban on the personal possession of firearms," according to Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the commissioner.
Say what? We're unaware of any legal rulings that prevent government agencies such as the park service from banning public hunting and the use of firearms on properties that it supervises.
This isn't a Second Amendment issue. Patterson should give the park service adequate time to evaluate the property for possible acquisition, as requested by William Wellman, superintendent of the Big Bend park.
If the park service rather than a private buyer bought the site, it would ensure public access to the land and help protect the cherished natural "view shed" from the Big Bend park. That also would honor the wishes of the Virginia-based Conservation Fund and Pennsylvania-based Richard King Mellon Foundation, which donated the Christmas Mountains property to the state in 1991.
An officer for the Mellon Foundation said that if the property is sold to a private bidder "the state [should] not look to the R.K. Mellon Foundation for any future help."
Foundations and land conservation groups have played an enormous role in purchasing and preserving prized natural spaces in Texas. It's foolish to needlessly alienate them.
However, it appears that Patterson is intent on doing just that.
Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram