Huge state park opened to public
On this day in 1991, Big Bend Ranch State Natural Area was opened to the public. Located in southwestern Brewster County and southeastern Presidio County, the area, now known as Big Bend Ranch State Park, is the largest in the state system, comprised some 299,000 acres in 2004. At one time the Big Bend Ranch was among the ten biggest working ranches in Texas. The first known ranchers in the area were Andrés Madrid, who began running sheep north of the site of present Lajitas in the 1870s, and the Carrasco family. In 1988 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission formally approved the purchase of the ranch by the state for $8.8 million from the Hondo Oil and Gas Company. The park offers numerous campsites and hiking, horseback riding, and biking trails, including thirty-two miles of multiuse trails that opened in 2003. The Fort Leaton State Historic Site and the park offices, located four miles east of Presidio, mark the park's western entrance; the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center, one mile east of Lajitas, marks the eastern entrance.