Senator Creighton on Jones State Forest
Thank you for the important feedback regarding my bill, Senate Bill 1964, relating to the Jones State Forest.
As the State Senator for District 4, I filed this bill at the request of the Texas A&M University System to require a public conversation on whether the University has local support for the construction of a forest center and educational facility in Jones State Forest (near the Lone Star College campus). I filed this piece of legislation to assure that the people of Montgomery County will have a voice in what Texas A&M proposes to do with the forest that we all cherish.
While Texas A&M has owned Jones State Forest since the 1920’s, it is a valued part of Montgomery County and I intend to make sure that it remains in its current state unless local sentiment requests a change.
Texas A&M is chartered to use the property for the purposes of forestry and education. Whether or not the University is permitted to broaden the use of the forest for additional educational purposes should be a public discussion. This is my primary goal in initiating this effort. Protecting the forest and the natural beauty in Montgomery County has been and always will be a priority of mine, and there should be no changes made without the community’s input.
I agree that the University’s requested language is drafted too broadly, and through the committee process I will remove the 'commercial' language from the bill. I am also adding language to protect the 100% of the forest from being used by the University for anything other than its current use. The bill will prevent any changes to be made without public approval. A&M needs to get feedback local governments, citizens and stakeholders should they propose any future concepts for new educational facilities in the forest.
The bill has now been referred to the Senate Higher Education committee where it awaits a hearing (date/time to be determined by the Chair). Under Senate rules, the bill's language cannot be officially altered until the public hearing.
Again, thank you to those who have shared your opinion with me and my office. Your input and opinions are important to me and I appreciate the opportunity to keep the lines of communication open with my constituents.