The Katy Prairie is one of the largest conserved prairies in Texas. We are bigger than any local state park, and we provide access to hunters, birders, and trail walkers all while being only an hour outside the nation’s third largest city. Recently, we engaged attorneys to ensure these lands would not be bisected by the proposed Houston Import Project – a proposal by Centerpoint to bring electricity from Dallas down to Houston.
Centerpoint originally proposed multiple paths for those high voltage lines (see here). Importantly, many of the proposals would have cut a path through our walking trails, or close to our headquarters.
We showed up to ensure the preservation value of our lands would not be compromised. We engaged leading experts like Dr. Bart Ballard from the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Dr. Ballard’s research – the first of its kind in Texas – demonstrates the overwhelming numbers of migratory birds that come up along the coast and that could have been impacted by these West-East lines.
We engaged Dr. John Jacob, a leading wetland scientist and Director of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program to demonstrate how some of the proposed lines along roadways would have less impact on the natural environment (as well as people) than placing a brand new line across KPC lands.
And we engaged many of you, in public comments and in meetings to help us showcase the value our lands bring to our local communities.
Thanks to this effort and to you, Texas Public Utility Commissioners have selected a route that avoids KPC lands and we are working to keep it that way for everyone forever.
This year, at the Texas Land Trust Conference, our Executive Director will present on the idea that conservation lands should be protected from eminent domain threats like power lines in the future as well. It would require a change in the law, but it is possible and would ensure our conservation lands – both parks and conservation easements – are treated equal for the values that provide all Texans.