Yesterday at a Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission meeting in Austin, oil company Apache Corp. announced it would donate $1 million to create an endowment to help preserve Balmorhea State Park in West Texas. This endowment is in addition to the $1 million previously donated by Apache Corp. to repair the Balmorhea State Park Pool that is currently closed for repair.
Apache Corp. CEO John Christmann stated:
“Balmorhea State Park is a natural treasure and an icon of West Texas, and it’s also a critical part of the local economy. But most importantly, it’s a special place to the residents of the entire West Texas region, many of whom are Apache employees and partners. It wasn’t a matter of if but a matter of how we would help.”
While Apache Corp. is making additional efforts to help the local community preserve the park, environmentalists blame Apache Corp. for damages to the Balmorhea State Park pool, a claim that has been debunked in a report by Forbes. Regional West Texas parks director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Mark Lockwood has previously stated that the damage to the pool did not occur because of oil and gas activity:
“A lot of people jumped to those conclusions, but as far as we know, it has nothing to do with the oil boom or earthquakes. The area where we had the problem is under the high dive, near the main exit spot for the water. We end up with a lot of swirling water that erodes the side of the pool.”
In addition, Texas environmental leaders accused Apache Corp. of plans to “dig up” Balmorhea, despite the company’s repeated statements that they would not drill in, under, or around Balmorhea or any nearby springs.