Calhoun County buys Green Lake with grant money
by Dianna Wray
Feb. 8, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 7, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.
Fun FactsGreen Lake is the largest fresh water lake located entirely in Texas.
Calhoun County is purchasing the lake for $3.5 million through funds from royalty money allocated to the county from offshore oil companies.
Green Lake is the name of the lake featured in the young adult novel "Holes," by Louis Sachar.
After being granted more than $2 million by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, Calhoun County is buying Green Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Texas.
Last summer, County Judge Mike Pfeifer was approached by a representative of the Indianola Liquidation Trust, the owners of the property, about selling Green Lake.
"They asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in buying it, and I said, 'Well, the county might be," Pfeifer said.
Trust representatives said they would sell the property for $3.5 million, so county officials started working to get the money.
In 2005, President Bush signed an energy bill authorizing funds from offshore drilling to be distributed to coastal states to benefit the conservation and the environment.
Texas' allocation of the money is roughly split in half between grants based on population and location, and competitive grants.
When they decided to purchase Green Lake, Calhoun officials marked the $1.4 million they had received based on their location and population to buy the lake. Then they started trying to figure out how to get the rest of the money.
Bill Harvey, who worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife for 21 years, was hired as a consultant, and started working on a competitive grant. The grant application, asking for $2,101,271, was submitted in November. The application was approved on Monday.
The plan is to purchase the property and turn it into a park with managed recreational activities and an emphasis on conservation, Harvey said.
The rules governing these grants are very strict, Harvey said. If, for some reason, the county failed to abide by the rules of the grant, they would have to reimburse the federal government for the grant.
Green Lake is a key part of the Guadalupe Delta, Harvey said, describing the fresh water lake as the lifeblood of the San Antonio Bay system, as well. Making the land public property will play a key role to conservation efforts in the area, Harvey said.
"It allows us to put together another big piece in the conservation puzzle," Harvey said. "If someone wanted to come in and develop along the river corridor and they bought that property, we couldn't do anything about it. Now, we can."
County officials signed an agreement with trust representatives that the land wouldn't be sold to anyone else while the county worked to raise the money.
Now that they've been awarded the grant, county officials are just waiting for the money to arrive to make the deal official.
Harvey said they plan to put together a committee of some kind to decide how exactly the property will be managed.
"Once we get the place, we'll put together the best people we can find who are experts to help us find the best use for it within the constraints of what the law requires," Harvey said.
Pfeifer said it's a situation that benefits everyone, at no cost to taxpayers.
"It's not state money, and it's not tax dollars. This is something that may benefit the whole area for no additional money," Pfeifer said.