Sea Change at Hueco Tanks?


Images by Devaki Murch from the 2006 Hueco Rock Rodeo.

Sea Change at Hueco Tanks?

Access to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, the world-class bouldering area outside El Paso, Texas, might be at risk with a proposed transfer of ownership of roughly 20 parks and historical sites in the Lone Star State. This precarious situation results from a political measure shifting management of these sites from the land management agency Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to the Texas Historical Committee (THC), to date solely a regulatory body. While this proposal has been under way for some time, it was rumored originally to exclude Hueco Tanks, a situation that may recently have changed.

“THC seems to have a museum approach to resources,” says Jason Keith, policy director at the Access Fund, “which could be potentially dangerous to climbers.”

Issues with the shift, as they pertain especially to climbers, center on the fact that THC might be unable to keep things status quo at Hueco, as they could lack the necessary infrastructure (law enforcement, park maintenance services, etc.) to support the hundreds of climbers that visit each season. According to Crye of, “ … the only thing that can stop the transfer is a new law that will specifically prohibit the transfer.” As such, you can get involved by writing letters to Texas congressmen Chente Quintanilla ( and Eliot Shapleigh ( Talking points, according to Crye, should include the facts that:

• TPWD is doing a splendid job managing Hueco (and all Texas state historic sites). • Vegetation is returning, and there’s no recent damage to rock art or archaeological sites. • Climbers hold trash pick-up days. • Climbers, birders, wildlife lovers, and picnickers — not history buffs — represent the majority of visitors.

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