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If approved, this revision would give the BCP Secretary the power to close the biggest Austin parks purely at their discretion. Neither an independent citizens’ appeal process, nor the City/County Government could stop the closures. In the City of Austin no single employee has so much power, not even the City Manager.

This letter objects to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve’s draft of the subchapter on public access “Tier IIA -Chapter 12 Public Access”.

In 1996 the Habitat Conservation Plan contract (the “HCP”) was signed between the Citizens of Austin, Travis County and the Federal Government with many compromises and concessions. The participants signed with full knowledge and on their own free will. The original contract stipulated that all exiting recreational uses would remain as they were in 1996.

This proposed new BCCP subchapter strays so much from the original HCP that it should not be legally allowed without full renegotiation of the HCP. This is primarily because the Preserve’s Management wants to renege on the compromises in the original agreement and deprive the citizens of their rights under the HCP contract.

The key Austin parks that would be affected includes the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Bull Creek Park, and Mount Bonnell Park.

By means of this revised subchapter BCP seeks to eliminate some grandfathered uses that were guaranteed by the 1996 contract and curtail others. Furthermore the new proposed BCP subchapter on public access gives the BCP staff the power to close entirely any of these parks and puts the burden and expense of building new ones directly onto the interested citizens. Last but not least, these substitute parks would not be required to provide the original grandfathered use.

In summary, this proposed new subchapter strays so much from the Habitat Conservation Plan that legally the Habitat Conservation Plan would have to be renegotiated. Plus it gives the BCP staff the power to close any parks or redefine their allowed uses without any stakeholders or local government being able to stop it.

Please prevent approval of the draft Chapter 12. Thank you,