> >>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
> >>a for-profit operation, Governor George W. Bush has sent out requests
> >>proposal for the construction of 24 privately-managed "nature lodging"
> >>projects to hoteliers and resort developers, according to documents
> >>today by Texas PEER. Targeted parks include the crown jewels of the
> >>system, such as Davis Mountains, Big Bend Ranch, Guadalupe River,
> >>Falls, the newly acquired Chinati Mountain lands of West Texas as well
> >>wildlife management areas containing habitat for threatened and
> >>Project configuration will be up to developers, but other "nature
> >>built by the solicited companies feature hotels with rooms renting for
> >>a night, conference centers, restaurants and shops. Besides the primary
> >>purpose of revenue production, nature lodging is supposed to combine
> >>with nature and comfortable accommodations.
> >>In a recent University of Texas survey of state wildlife managers, six
> >>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, Texas PEER Staff Scientist Dean Keddy-Hector,
> >>former zoologist with the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife,
> >>"Putting hotels in critical wildlife habitats evidences a leadership
> >>profoundly unclear on the concept of conservation. This is an
> >>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
> >>Cato Institute.