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After Proposing Land Swap, State to Pay Dallas Homebuilder $13 Mil for Devils River Land

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A couple of months back we noted that the Texas Park and Wildlife Department had proposed making one hell of a trade with Dallas's Rod Sanders, co-founder of Huntington Home, for some land down in Val Verde County. Sanders, you may recall, owns the 17,638-acre Devils River Ranch -- which, far as the state's concerned, has "significantly more river frontage and better public access as well as outstanding natural and cultural features" than the 20,000-acre Devils River State Natural Area. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission had proposed to give Sanders the 20,000 acres and $8 million for his property.

But folks were incensed at the proposal, which is why the TPWD postponed the transaction in early November. Since then, nothing. Till today: TWPD sent a release this afternoon announcing that the state is buying Sanders's land outright for $13 million, with other money going toward land upkeep:

TPWD will use $10.1 million in private donations, $2.7 million in state funds allocated for park land acquisition and $1.3 million in federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to acquire the property. The donations also will cover operating expenses for two-and-a-half years as well as development of a master plan for joint public use of the ranch and the Devils River State Natural Area, 12.7 miles upstream.

Note: The release doesn't name Sanders. Says a TWPD spokesman, who can't "officially" confirm the deal's with Sanders, as the property owner -- whoever he may be, ahem -- asked his name be kept out the announcement. Says the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club: "The acquisition of the Devils River Ranch, while retaining the existing State Natural Area, is a wonderful holiday gift for the people of Texas."

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