Above: Looking southward into Mexico from the Chisos Mountains.
It is easy to take for granted that Texas treasures like Big Bend National Park have always been here. However, before the 1940s the park was only an idea. It took forward thinking individuals in government to allocate the money ($1.5 million dollars) to purchase the 800,000 acres of ranch lands that would eventually become Big Bend. The article below from Texas Game and Fish Magazine captures the exciting time right before its inception. The author also mentions the Big Bend International Park, which was part of that plan that was never fully implemented.
Mexico is proceeding with preliminary arrangements for the establishment of an adjoining national park south of the river. The two areas will form the Big Bend International Park. Like the Glacier-Waterston Lake International Peace Park which extends our good neighbor policy into Canada, the Big Bend International Park will further cement our friendly relations with the Republic of Mexico.
Mexico did create national parks across the border (See the article from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram at the bottom of this post.), and I believe the desire for a shared international park still exists among Texans and Mexicans–despite the current politics. Even after the creation of the park, there has still been movement to conserve more of the region’s wild places. Forty-four years after the creation of Big Bend, a new generation of conservationists opened Big Bend Ranch State Park to put an additional 300,000 acres of land under protection.
It makes me wonder what my generation will accomplish in the coming decades. There are still beautiful landscapes in West Texas left to conserve (e.g. Brewster Ranches), but is there the political will to devote state resources to large new parks? Could would make the international park a reality after all these years? Read on, think about a time before Big Bend and imagine making similar dreams into a reality in the 21st century.
Source: “Big Bend Park Soon a Reality” by Miner R. Tillotson, Texas Game and Fish Magazine – January 1943, p. 7, 10
Fort Worth Star-Telegram – December 4, 1960, p. 39
Click to zoom and read the full article.