Say Hello to the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area

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The Chinati Mountains ( Via Texas Mountain Trail)

Last week, Marfa Public Radio announced the creation of the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area, a new park deep in the bend of West Texas' Presidio County. Named after the Chinati Mountain Range (Chinati derives from the Apache word ch'íná'itíh, meaning mountain pass), the new park features 39,000 acres of Chihuahuan desert peaks.

Though the department of Texas Parks and Wildlife has owned the donated land for eight years, the agency has struggled to gain public access for a road to the property. Through some convoluted land deals, Parks and Wildlife was able to purchase four parcels of land allowing for access to the new park. With bears, elk, mule deer and javalinas on the land, the park represents another significant preservation area as oil drilling roars forward in West Texas.

Though the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area still needs to raise funds to open the estate, Texas Parks and Wildlife is excited at the idea of tourist dollars coming into Presidio County. “The economic impact a park brings to an area is substantial, it’s more than a lot of people realize,” said Corky Kulhmann, Texas Parks and Wildlife's senior project manager for land conservation. “Granted taking some of the land is taking it off the tax roles, but when people come here they’re going to the grocery stores and going to the convenience stores, and going to the gas stations and spending money here. It’s a win-win situation.”

With the Big Bend National and Ranch State Parks already in the area, the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area will appeal to a different, more rugged audience. “It will be a natural experience,” Kulhmann told Marfa Public Radio. “It will be an outback, rugged, primitive experience. Probably as good a primitive experience you’re going to have in Texas.”

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