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SHSU To Benefit From Texas State University System Acquisition Of Christmas Mountains

Sept. 16, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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Sam Houston State University is planning new research efforts in the Christmas Mountains as well as collaborative projects with its sister institutions within the Texas State University System.

As a member of the Texas State University System, Sam Houston State University will benefit from the transfer of the Christmas Mountains to the system, as announced by TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson this week.

The rugged 9,269-acre tract of land in Brewster County will become an outdoor classroom, open to all, with conservation of the land guaranteed forever.

“All of our universities are engaged in research in the Big Bend region and, as a result of this transfer, we'll be able to provide new and exciting learning opportunities for students and faculty in biology, geology, archeology and many other fields,” McCall said. “We also recognize that this land was a gift to the people of Texas, so we will continue to allow the public to access the Christmas Mountains so they can enjoy this natural treasure."

Sam Houston State University—a member of the Texas State University System along with Sul Ross State University, Lamar University and Texas State University-San Marcos—is planning new research efforts on the land.

“This is a great opportunity for faculty and students at Sam Houston State University,” said Jerry Cook, associate vice president in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at SHSU.

“There is great interest in climate change, and this location along with the Center for Biological Field Studies, which is close to our campus, will allow our researchers to begin long term projects with comparisons of two very different ecologies,” he said.

“This area is also known for its high biodiversity and we have faculty and students who are interested in studies in systematics and ecology. This area provides many opportunities for studies in these fields of biology,” he said. “We now have access to a desert habitat to complement our forest habitat of east Texas.

“Geologically, the Christmas Mountains are a magnificent resource. It includes many volcanic and sedimentary deposits, and faculty and students can see a lot of interesting geology within a relatively small area,” he said.

Cook added that the acquisition will allow for more collaborations between researchers at Sam Houston State University and the other member institutions in the Texas State University System.

Under the transfer agreement between the Texas General Land Office and the university system, TSUS will receive the land at no cost. Commissioner Patterson said the value of the Christmas Mountains was offset by the value of the university system’s educational goals and commitment to conserving the property.

“In fact, I think the college students of Texas will be richer for the opportunity to study in a Texas-sized open-air classroom,” Patterson said.


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