A great gift for Texas

The $37.7 million purchase of the Powderhorn Ranch near Port O’Connor for use as a public park is a landmark development for the preservation of our state’s natural heritage and a big addition to a Texas park system struggling to keep up with exploding population growth. The 17,351-acre spread, which covers 27 square miles, is one of the last big landholdings along the Texas coast with a nearly unspoiled coastal prairie habitat, including a variety of flora and fauna and natural features that were once abundant but are now threatened. The Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation put the deal together in coordination with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which will eventually own and run the park and wildlife management area when it opens in a few years. The purchase will be paid mostly by $34.5 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which consists of $2.5 billion paid by BP and Transocean in a settlement for damages caused by their massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf in 2010.