Potter County agrees to match funds for Cross Bar Ranch access
The Potter County Commissioner’s Court unanimously agreed Monday to match a Federal Land Access Program grant to fund a public access road to the Cross Bar Ranch.
With this agreement, the county agrees to do a 39% matching of funds, which comes to about $27,000 that the county will contribute. The plan is for the Cross Bar Ranch to become a recreational area of about 12,000 acres used for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. The entire project is expected to cost about $26 million to come to fruition and is still in development.
Lorie Van Ongevalle, executive director of the Friends of the Cross Bar SRMA, spoke about the measure that was passed at the county meeting.
“Today was the first step of the process,” Van Ongevalle said. “What this means going forward is they will have a development plan for this access road, and once the plan is done, we will have a full scope for the development of the project. We are excited that we are on the shortlist for this grant. This will give us a full idea of the cost that will be involved for the project.”
More:A scenic route: Friends of Cross Bar SRMA outlines recreational use plans
She said that by fall, her organization should know the full costs, and the schedule for this access road project should be known. If everything is agreed to move forward, the 2.1-mile access road should start construction by next year, with a completion timetable of about three years. Van Ongevalle says that this will be a huge deal for the area, with the public being able to access the wildlife preserve and recreation area.
Amarillo Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Kasion Smith spoke about the impact that completing the public access road and the development of the recreation area will have on the Amarillo community.
“Our office deals with every kind of visitor that we can get into Amarillo, whether it be meetings, experiences or vacations," Smith said. "This is really important to us to speak to being a destination travel city. We know that we are a pass-through community; that will always be our bread and butter with I-40 and Route 66."
She said that she expects this to somewhat alleviate congestion at Palo Duro Canyon for visitors wanting to see more of the area's natural wonders.
“We want to capture our visitors and give them an experience that will keep them in the area longer to bring money into the local economy," she said.
Adrian Escobar, an outdoor recreation planner for the Cross Bar Ranch, spoke about what this means for developing the new recreational area. He said that the access road would be about a quarter-mile south of the Canadian River, off of Highway 87. The initial plan is to make the road gravel so that maintenance costs would be reduced, but that would be contingent on the findings of the federal development survey and its findings.
“As they develop the plan, things may require different specifications for the road, so the surface could change depending on those findings,” Escobar said.
He said the costs for the road have a lot of moving of dirt and other natural objects, affecting cost and specifications. He also said many other parts of the project need to be planned out before the recreation area can have full public access to the interior of the area.
Escobar said that the access road would be key to being able to get the public out to the area and to make the project a viable enterprise.
“This is just step one in the development of this area for public access,” Escobar said. “We have so much more that we need to do, but this is really important for the project's future."
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Potter County agrees to match funds for Cross Bar Ranch access