Texas Alters Proposed Swap of Remote Border Tracts

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scrapped a widely criticized proposal to swap land with a Dallas businessman, proposing instead to keep a remote West Texas tract popular with hikers and kayakers while still acquiring the private landowner's 17,000-acre ranch.

Agency spokesman Tom Harvey said Monday the department plans to buy the Devils River Ranch for $13 million - $4 million in public funds and $9 million in private donations. The department would manage the ranch and its existing 20,000-acre Devils River State Natural Area.

Environmentalists and others had opposed exchanging the public land with Rod Sanders.

A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday night in Del Rio, near both large tracts of land on the Texas-Mexico border. The department will consider the proposed sale Dec. 20 in Austin.

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