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The arbitrary decision of the Balmorhea State Park administration to modify the Day Use classification of the Balmorhea State Park by altering the daily operation of the San Solomon Springs pool from the previous defined Day Use closure at sunset to the current closure at 6pm daily, and the closing of the entrance gate denying any entrance once the designated parking areas are full, prompting potential visitors to wait in vehicles on the shoulder and bar-ditches of Texas State Highway 17, are threats to both public safety and the viability of the economy of Balmorhea, Toyahvale and to the entire region of West Texas, as this facility is the most-visited state park on record because of the San Solomon Springs pool. Therefore, WE, the undersigned, petition that the San Solomon Springs pool of the Balmorhea State Park be RESTORED to FULL DAY USE, operating from 8AM to Sunset, just as Texas State Parks with similar camping and recreational facilities operate. We also petition that the Balmorhea State Park restore walk-in and bicycle access so that all citizens have equal access to this public resource, regardless of parking availability or lack thereof.


Recently, an arbitrary decision by the administration of the Balmorhea State park has limited access of the San Solomon Springs pool to the public. The Balmorhea State Park, the most visited state park on record, due to the San Solomon Springs pool, is classified as a “Day Use” park, meaning facilities are available for public access until sunset on any given day of the year. In March of 2015, park administration, without explanation, determined to close the San Solomon Springs pool area of the park at 6pm daily, regardless of season of the year. This is an arbitrary decision unique to Balmorhea State Park and was not made on any premise regarding conservation or preservation, as measures for those are practiced rigorously by the Texas State Parks & Wildlife system as well as the citizens of West Texas and visitors of the park. No other equal state facility, with similar camping and recreational resources, deviates from the classification of Day Use, ceasing operations before sunset on any given day of the year. The impact of this arbitrary decision is harmful to both the visitors of the park and to the economy of the area:

With regard to public access and park visitors:

  • The park administration limits the number of vehicles (including motorcycles) parked on park premises and no longer allows foot or bicycle (non-motorized) traffic admitted to the park. This is harmful for a multitude of reasons, but primarily:
    • The park administration has curtailed overflow parking, so while the park facilities, including the San Solomon Springs pool area, have capacity for greater human than vehicle occupancy, the current park administration limits occupancy of the park to the number of available parking spaces. While access to a public resource is severely limited without regard to the maximum human occupancy rate, the impact of this arbitrary decision is also harmful in that:
      • Individuals without vehicles or means of travel by automobile or motorcycle are denied access to a public resource. Further, once designated vehicle parking areas are full, all individuals who are not already in the park are denied access to this public resource, regardless of transportation mode, whether by foot, bicycle or any other means of transportation.
      • Once the vehicle occupancy rate is met, vehicles then park on the shoulder of Hwy 17, outside the entrance to the Balmorhea State Park, to wait for admittance, thereby creating a very serious safety hazard:
        • The speed limit in this area is 75mph and the wait-time is usually long, 2 to 3 hours is common. There are generally anywhere from 20 to 50 (or more on weekends) vehicles parked on the side of the road in 100+ degree heat, often lining up by 10AM and generally lasting until 5PM. The park policy now is one vehicle out, one vehicle in.
        • The hazards of this are obvious: Parked vehicles along the roadside risk a motor vehicle accident; citizens waiting in these lines often sit in the summer heat for long periods of time, risking health hazards; citizens exit their vehicles to cool off, stretch their legs, often urinating beside their vehicle and become traffic hazards.

With regard the economy of Balmorhea, Toyahvale and West Texas:

The Balmorhea State Park was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a New Deal depression-relief project. Along with other “works” projects in the Balmorhea/Toyahvale, Texas area, the object of the CCC projects was to utilize the abundant water resources to build a long-term, sustainable economy for the people of West Texas through two primary measures:

  • Establish irrigation access to area farmers such they are able to provide food/crop resources to citizens of the area, state and nation.
  • Establish a public recreational facility centered around a natural phenomenon with the dual purposes to attract and sustain a tourism economy and to provide recreational opportunities to citizens of the area, state, and union.

While there are many arguments to be made for the establishment of the Balmorhea State Park, the primary reasons are those stated, for the purpose of the depression relief projects was to put people to work so that the government of this country could provide a means for its citizens to earn an income for immediate survivability and to establish a long-term and sustainable economy so as to prevent the type of poverty the nation endured during the building of the Balmorhea State Park in the Great Depression Era.

Recently, the sustainability of the economy of an entire West Texas area, which relies on tourism, has been threatened by arbitrary decisions of the Balmorhea State Park. These decisions were not made in the interest of the people of West Texas, nor in the interest of the Balmorhea State Park. People across the state, the nation and from around the world are attracted to this area of Texas. From Palo Duro Canyon to the Big Bend and from El Paso to Sonora and Del Rio because of its unique natural offerings. There are many well-known tourist destinations, often day-trips, that provide for the economy of the mostly small towns across this expanse of Texas. Often, these day-trip destinations are paired with other interests in the area, so a threat to one of these day-trip or tourist destinations becomes a threat to all the economies of the area which rely on tourist or recreational monies to sustain their economy.

Therefore, in response to the harmful decision made by the administration of the Balmorhea State Park, the citizens and visitors of West Texas direct this petition to all legislators governing West Texas, who have the influence and govern the Texas Parks & Wildlife system, because we believe the arbitrary decisions of the administration of Balmorhea State Park deprive the people of these districts from economic stability and recreational opportunities.

Texas U.S. Senators

Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz

Texas U.S. Representatives

Congressional District 23--Congressman Will Hurd
Congressional District 11--Congressman K. Michael Conaway
Congressional District 19--Congressman Randy Neugebauer
Congressional District 13--Congressman Mac Thornberry

Texas State Senators

Texas State Senate District 19--Senator Carlos I. Uresti
Texas State Senate District 31--Senator Kel Seliger
Texas State Senate District 29--Senator José Rodríguez
Texas State Senate District 28--Senator Charles Perry

Texas State Representatives

Texas State House District 53--Representative Andrew S. Murr
Texas State House District 68--Representative Drew Springer
Texas State House District 71--Representative Susan King
Texas State House District 72--Representative Drew Darby
Texas State House District 74--Representative Poncho Nevárez
Texas State House District 75--Representative Mary González
Texas State House District 76--Representative César Blanco
Texas State House District 77--Representative Marisa Márquez
Texas State House District 78--Representative Joseph E. Moody
Texas State House District 79--Representative Joe C. Pickett
Texas State House District 81--Representative Brooks Landgraf
Texas State House District 82--Representative Tom Russell Craddick
Texas State House District 83--Representative Dustin Burrows
Texas State House District 84--Representative John M. Frullo
Texas State House District 86--Representative John T. Smithee
Texas State House District 87--Representative Four Price
Texas State House District 88--Representative Ken King

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