Padre Island
Administrative History
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Legislative Efforts Begin: 1958

In the same year that the Park Service sent the investigative team to Padre Island, United States Senator Ralph W. Yarborough of Texas introduced S.4064, providing for the establishment of a Padre Island National Park (later changed to "National Seashore"). Senator Yarborough quoted the earlier Park Service survey, Our Vanishing Shoreline, in introducing the bill to the Senate on June 27. Calling the island "a place of undying historic charm, . . . one of the most desirable semitropical rest spots in the world," the Senator lauded "the golden sands of Padre Island and the white-capped blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico." Along with the text of the bill, Senator Yarborough requested that an editorial from the Texas Observer of June 13, 1958, be printed in the Congressional Record. The article, written by editor Ronnie Dugger, cited the shoreline survey's recommendation of Padre Island and claimed that the island "could be bought for $3.5 million." Despite the Senator's persuasive arguments, the 85th Congress took no action on the bill. [1] On the first day of the 86th Congress, January 9, 1959, the undaunted Senator Yarborough introduced an identical bill, S.4. This bill fared better and was referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, which in turn gave the bill to its Public Lands Subcommittee. [2]

In June 1959, the Texas Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 16 consenting to the establishment of a National Seashore Area on Padre Island. It was sponsored by Representatives Benton Murray and Roger Daily and Senators Hubert Hudson and Bruce Reagan. H.C.R. No. 16 consented to a National Seashore only in Willacy and Kenedy Counties between the Mansfield Channel and Yarborough Pass--far less than the amount recommended by the Park Service and advocated by Senator Yarborough. A second point in the resolution, not addressed by the Park Service report, was the control exerted by the Willacy County Navigation District over the land, spoil banks, easements, and right-of-way of the Mansfield Channel. The Texas Legislature did not want these to be part of a National Seashore. Included in the resolution was a condition with which the Park Service agreed: that any acquisition of land should not affect the mineral rights or the extraction of minerals. [3] This resolution fulfilled the stipulation in S. 4 that, if the bill were to pass, the Secretary of the Interior might take no action until the State of Texas gave consent through legislative action. [4]

H.C.R. No. 16 took the place of an earlier attempt by Representative Daily in April 1959 to pass a bill "authorizing the State Parks Board to acquire Padre Island for park purposes, and authorizing the State to convey such land to the United States for establishing a National Park." [5] This bill, H.B. 469, was defeated in the State Affairs Committee, probably because of the persuasive testimony of John D. McCall, representing six companies owning land on Padre Island. This was the same man who in October 1957 had met with Regional Director Miller to discuss federal purchase of land for a National Seashore. McCall had not changed his mind about the desirability of the project, but disagreed with the wording of the bill in the matters of size and mineral rights. McCall's testimony implied that all 120 miles would be included despite development at both ends of the island. He suggested a much smaller area and said that he had "good reason to believe that the Government would be happy with less . . . thirty miles has been discussed." [6] McCall was recalling his October 1957 conversation with Regional Director Miller who had casually suggested, before any studies were done, that 30 to 50 miles might be appropriate.

McCall reminded the committee that developed land was tax producing, but park lands were not. Realizing that the costs would be prohibitive, neither the Park Service nor Senator Yarborough ever considered the acquisition of mineral rights. Yet McCall repeatedly mentioned the astronomical cost of mineral-right acquisition and said that the State would apparently be required to "deed to the Government the very valuable offshore mineral rights now owned by the State and which are so dearly coveted by some of the administrative agencies of the Government." [7] This was the first documented mention of the rumor of the potential loss of State mineral rights, something the Park Service never desired anyway.

Another action taken by the 56th Legislature of Texas that had potential impact on recreational use of Padre Island was the Texas Open Beaches Act (TOBA), passed in the second session. This act guaranteed public access to the ocean-fronting beaches. The area between mean low tide and mean high tide was now public property. The area between mean high tide and the vegetation line might be privately owned, but the owners could not erect any barrier to public access and use. [8] Texans rejoiced in this affirmation of what they considered a basic recreational right, but this would prove to be a point of disagreement between the public and the Park Service, which would consider vehicular access to the beaches damaging at the very least.

Region III Evaluation and Leadership: 1958-1959

Hugh Miller, the Regional Director, first learned of H.C.R. No. 16 in late April. In a memorandum to the Director of the National Park Service, Miller reported that he had refrained from taking any position on the legislation, then known as H.B. 469, other than saying that if S.4 became law such action would be necessary. To the Director, however, Miller commented on the limitation placed on the Seashore at the Mansfield Channel by the Texas Legislature. He stated that his office did not consider the stipulation disastrous and, indeed, could "perceive logic in establishing the channel as the south boundary of the park. We would not be disturbed if the Willacy County line should ultimately be proposed as the south boundary." [9] This was the second time Miller had promoted the acceptance of a smaller area for the seashore.

The Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings and Monuments met in April 1959 and suggested approval of Congressional bills to acquire Padre Island, as it had at its annual meeting the previous year. The Advisory Board added two stipulations to its approval. First, Padre Island should be designated a Shoreline Area, or National Seashore, rather than a National Park. Second, oil and gas activities should be eliminated immediately upon passage of the bill because "any such hostile use ... renders Padre Island inappropriate for preservation as a unit of the National Park System." [10] This was the only organization that recommended that all mineral extraction cease with the inclusion of Padre Island in the National Park Service system. All others realized the impracticality of such a demand, however ecologically and aesthetically desirable it might be.

In May 1959 the Board of Trustees of the National Parks Association adopted a resolution on Padre Island. The Association found Padre Island to be nationally significant and of suitable quality for inclusion in the National Park Service system of reserved land. The board noted the detractive aspects of the oil and gas activities present on the island, but felt that these activities could be limited and controlled by agreement and that they would be relatively temporary and unimportant in the long run. The Association agreed with the position of Senator Yarborough and the Park Service that the area should include all of the undeveloped parts of Padre Island. [11]

Senator Yarborough kept his bill before the Senate throughout 1959 by monthly reminders such as his speech printed in the August 11 Congressional Record. In this address he cited increasing attendance at Cape Hatteras National Seashore as evidence of public interest in national seashores. After mentioning H.C.R. No. 16, Senator Yarborough pointed out that the biggest danger to the project was the attempt by "certain private developers" to limit the size of the park to a small part of Padre Island. [12] The Senator, obviously aware of McCall's testimony in Austin, declared his opposition "to making it a little honky-tonk beach which would deny visitors the elbow room they need to really enjoy the beauty of this fabulous area of the Gulf." [13]

Sen. Ralph Yarborough
Figure 13. Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas, ca. 1950. Photo courtesy PAIS Archives.

First Subcommittee Hearings: 1959

By September the Senate Public Lands Subcommittee scheduled a December public hearing on S.4 in Corpus Christi. The Park Service too began to prepare its proposals for the first public forum on Padre Island. Regional Director Miller wrote Conrad Wirth, Director of the National Park Service, and suggested that Wirth represent the Park Service at the hearing. Miller urged Wirth to inspect the island and proposed a two-day visit: the first day for an aerial view by airplane and helicopter, the second day for a ground tour. In a final paragraph, Miller changed the subject and expressed a desire to get "Senator Johnson on the bandwagon in favor of a Padre Island proposal." [14] It undoubtedly seemed strange to Miller that the other senator from Texas had not joined Senator Yarborough in his public lobbying for a National Seashore. Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton also noticed Senator Lyndon Johnson's reticence on the subject. He would soon remark that "Johnson could push through the legislation at any time if he wanted." [15] Senator Johnson's absence, however, was related to his antipathy toward the junior Senator Yarborough as well as his deep seated opposition to the whole national seashore idea.

With the Director's approval, Region III arranged with the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station for air transportation during an inspection tour by Wirth on December 10, 1959. [16] The change of the hearing date to December 14 prompted Wirth to change the inspection date to December 13, as his schedule allowed only a two-day trip to Corpus Christi. [17]

The Public Lands Subcommittee changed the date of the hearing, and, because of the amount of public interest, found it necessary to change the location from the Driscoll Hotel to the larger Exhibition Hall in Corpus Christi [18] Assisted by Senator Yarborough and Representative John Young of Corpus Christi, the subcommittee chairman, Frank E. Moss of Utah, conducted the hearing at which proponents of the National Seashore greatly outnumbered the opposition. Representing the Park Service was Director Wirth, his Special Assistant Frank E. Harrison, new Regional Director Thomas J. Allen, Regional Chief of Recreation Resource Planning William L. Bowen, and Regional Chief of NPS Planning Leslie P. Arnberger, who had participated in the Park Service's 1958 field investigation of Padre Island. [19]

Forty-two of the 44 witnesses testified in favor of S.4 by reading or presenting statements and by introducing petitions signed by a total of 9,376 Texans from 297 cities and towns. [20] Especially valuable was the testimony of Director Wirth to inform the public on the Park Service's stand on the extent of the proposed seashore, oil and gas activity on the island, and development plans for the seashore, particularly in regard to roadways. He assured the audience that the Park Service did not intend to exclude private development by using the entire island that indeed the Park Service wished to omit land at both ends of the island from the seashore in order for private enterprise to develop visitor accommodations and commercial facilities. [21] On the oil and gas recovery question, Wirth informed those present that policies applied to National Seashores were more flexible than those for National Parks, and that the Park Service would attempt to work with the oil companies to lessen the "interference with scenic and recreational values." [22] The only part of Wirth's testimony that may have distressed many National Seashore proponents was his belief in the desirability of keeping a central portion of the island roadless to preserve a part in a primitive state. [23] He concluded by giving an idea of the possible effect of a National Seashore on the local economy by citing a study made of the area in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. According to the study, tourism increased more than 300%, deposits in local banks more than doubled, and the increase in value of the surrounding property more than compensated for the tax loss due to the removal of National Seashore lands from the property tax rolls. [24] Wirth later commented that he had never seen such an overwhelmingly favorable endorsement at a public hearing of a park project similar to the proposed National Seashore on Padre Island. [25]

Typical of the private citizens supporting the seashore were Mel and Erna Niquette. Perhaps in view of their tireless correspondence promoting the National Seashore, the Niquettes were far more than ordinary proponents. Early in the 1950s the Niquettes vacationed on Padre Island, fell under the island's spell, and bought a South Padre Island lot from developer John L. Tompkins. Owners of a busy vacuum cleaner shop in Victoria, Texas, the Niquettes found the time to maintain an extensive correspondence with anyone interested in Padre Island becoming a National Seashore, in particular Senator Yarborough. The senator in turn kept the Niquettes informed of all developments. This correspondence and articles they clipped from newspapers and pasted in a scrapbook are now in the archives at the Flour Bluff Headquarters of the National Seashore. In common with many of their fellow proponents, the Niquettes strongly favored Park Service construction of a road the length of the island; if the Park Service were unwilling, they thought that construction of a through road should be required in the enabling legislation. Although Senator Yarborough originally agreed with the idea of a roadway and maybe tourist development on the island, he eventually believed in the preservation of the island. [26] On this point, the Niquettes and Senator Yarborough later disagreed. [27]

S.4 received scant legislative attention during 1960, the year of the Kennedy-Johnson Democratic ticket for the Presidency, yet lobbying continued for a National Seashore on Padre Island. The Niquettes wrote repeatedly to Senator Yarborough, Senator Johnson, Governor Price Daniel, and Texas Senator Murray urging passage of the bill. Senator Yarborough wrote to the Niquettes to encourage them to recruit "more 'helpers' to 'push' "for the Seashore, more letters, and more support." [28] The Niquettes wrote Senator John F. Kennedy, who was busily campaigning, and "told him Padre Island is Texas' New Frontier," in the hope that he would "throw his weight in." [29]

Kennedy-Johnson Era Begins: 1960

The Kennedy-Johnson victory in November 1960 raised hopes for passage of the seashore bill. With a Texan as vice-president, National Seashore proponents thought success would be guaranteed. At the opening of the 87th Congress, January 5, 1961, Senator Yarborough again introduced S.4. He cited the widespread support for the seashore, from private citizens to an impressive list of organizations that had passed resolutions favoring the project. Trying to establish a sense of urgency, Senator Yarborough pointed out that the number of possible areas for national seashores became more limited with each year due to private development, and that, with the passing of each year, the cost of Padre Island would become greater and the area available smaller. In closing, he invoked President Kennedy's New Frontier:

In urging the establishment of Padre Island National Seashore, . . . I am not speaking for the New Frontier. Instead, I plead for what many conservationists, many Americans, consider and what really is, geographically, the last frontier. Unless we act now, it will be the lost frontier. [30]

In the United States House of Representatives on February 28, Representatives Joe Kilgore (Democrat, Harlingen) and John Young (Democrat, Corpus Christi) introduced H.R. 5013 and H.R. 5049, respectively, for the establishment of the Padre Island National Seashore. These identical bills contained everything mentioned in S.4 with two important changes and three additional—and limiting—sections. [31]

In common with S.4, the House bills set forth specific boundaries to the area to be included in the Seashore, but these boundaries were well inside Senator Yarborough's proposed area. The total length of the National Seashore was reduced to 65 miles in the House versions, down 23 miles from the 88 of S.4. The northernmost boundary of the House bills placed the Audubon Society sanctuary on North Bird Island well outside of the seashore rather than within its area, as in S.4. [32]

The second change was in the amount of money that the bills would authorize the appropriation for the purchase of the proposed area. S.4 authorized no more than $4 million for the 88-mile seashore; H.R. 5013 and H.R. 5049 authorized no more than $5 million for the smaller area. The Park Service recommended that a specific amount not be included in any bill, since the land had not been appraised recently. The island had not even been completely surveyed in recent years, and as a barrier island, Padre was subject to fluctuations in acreage. [33]

The major differences between the House and Senate versions of the Seashore bills were included in three additional sections in both House bills, each of which attempted to satisfy factions among the supporters of the Seashore. The first special interest section of the House Bills, Section Six, concerned jurisdiction over any highways that might be affected or altered by the establishment of the Seashore. This section could have made it impossible for the pro-road forces to push through county road proposals, which, after passage of the bill, would put the Park Service in the position of being forced to accept a through road down Padre Island, even though the Park Service would be allowed to change the location of such a road. [34]

Section Seven of the House bills called for construction and maintenance of a roadway from the northern seashore boundary to the southern boundary to provide public access to the full length of the seashore area. This section also required the Service to provide public access to the full length of the seashore area and roads connecting the park road to access highways from the mainland. [35] One way or another, Representatives Kilgore and Young tried to satisfy road proponents by forcing the Federal government to bear the cost of a Corpus Christi-to-Brownsville island highway if it wanted to establish a national seashore on Padre Island.

The third difference between the House and Senate versions of the Padre Island bill concerned the use of Padre Island as a target range by the Navy. Section Eight of the House bills stated that the Secretary of the Interior must assure the Navy that the Department of the Interior would not interfere with Navy use of aerial gunnery or bombing ranges located in the vicinity of Padre Island. [36] This section would have provided for a most disruptive secondary use of a national seashore and was opposed by the Park Service and seashore advocates, regardless of their position on a through roadway or the size of the seashore. It is difficult to understand why such a stipulation appeared in both House bills, unless it had been requested by Corpus Christi businessmen fearful of the closure of the Naval Air Station if the Padre Island ranges were closed. These fears were overstated; the Navy had no intention of abandoning Corpus Christi even if it had to utilize alternate target sites. The Park Service had already sounded out the Navy in 1958 about the matter. At that time, the commanding officer expected Naval use to continue "for the foreseeable future," although the leases on the ranges were due to expire in 1964. [37]

Second Subcommittee Hearings: 1961-62

Initial action on all three seashore bills was delayed. The Public Lands Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs scheduled its hearing on S.4 for April 11 and 13 in Washington, D.C. The House Subcommittee on National Parks scheduled a hearing for out-of-town witnesses on April 13 for H.R. 5013 and H.R. 5049. [38]

Chairman Alan Bible of Nevada presided over the Senate hearing. Twenty-seven witnesses presented statements to the seven Subcommittee members present. A large number of letters, editorials, and resolutions increased the amount of testimony presented to the Senators. Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, the first witness before the Subcommittee, testified enthusiastically in favor of the bill. He reiterated the Park Service's previous assurances that mineral rights were not going to be acquired due to the prohibitive cost, and suggested that the situation would offer the oil and gas industry an opportunity to demonstrate that it could extract minerals without permanently damaging the land and destroying wildlife habitats. Secretary Udall also expressed a hope that no restriction would be added to S.4 that would force the Park Service to build a roadway through the length of the seashore, and said that development of the seashore would be carefully planned by the Park Service to provide access as needed. [39]

After Secretary Udall summarized his prepared statement for the Subcommittee, the members questioned him thoroughly on three items: cost of the seashore, present ownership, and mineral development. Senator Bible wanted a firm estimate of the acquisition cost of the land from the secretary, but the only answer was that the 1958 figure, $4 million, was too low. Senator Gordon Allott of Colorado took up the same subject when allowed to question the witness. The senator first asked what part of the proposed seashore was owned by the State of Texas. Tom Bryan of Sun Oil Company of Dallas answered that the immediately adjacent gulf side and all of the Laguna Madre submerged lands were state-owned. The senator then questioned Secretary Udall closely on the cost of two other proposed seashores: Point Reyes, California, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After receiving the answer of $22 million for the former and $20 million for the latter, the senator asked if the secretary thought that $4 million was a realistic estimate of the cost of Padre Island lands. Secretary Udall admitted that the actual cost may have doubled since 1958. Senator Gordon Allott, also a member of the Appropriations Committee, responded by predicting that the final total would be double the secretary's admission of $8 million. [40]

Senator Allott continued his examination of Secretary Udall by asking how the State lands would be acquired. The secretary answered that he was sure the State would recognize the value and public interest in the seashore and would be willing to negotiate with the Department of the Interior. Senator Allott's response revealed the reason for his close cross-examination; he had received "quite a few letters" from people in Texas opposed to the bill, "which I cannot quite believe in myself." [41] Senator Allott had earlier referred to the cost of Padre Island as "a pig in a poke"; that remark became clearer after this statement further illustrated his bias against the project. [42]

Senator Allott then questioned the secretary on the intent of the phrasing in the bill concerning mineral development. He first wanted clarification on exactly what minerals would be reserved and allowed development by the owners of the mineral rights. In a lengthy dialogue, Secretary Udall assured the senator that mineral development would be limited to oil and gas. After being told by the chairman, Senator Bible, that such a limitation was in the Department of the Interior's report on S.4, Senator Allott replied that he did not notice the limitation and did not believe one was in the report. [43] Secretary Udall was able to answer that the Department had set up a liaison committee with conservation organizations and representatives of the oil and gas industry to provide an opportunity for creative solutions to any problems. He also assured the senator that the Department would not propose regulations that would prevent normal oil and gas development. Senator Allott accepted this and requested that the word "reasonable" be inserted before the word "regulation." [44]

The second witness of the morning, Senator Yarborough, also testified at length in favor of the seashore, but limited his statement to the issue of the size of the seashore and the question of road construction in the area. He pointed out that his first two bills to establish a National Seashore on Padre Island, S.4064 in 1958 and S.4 in 1959, did not limit the size of the seashore. In the present bill before the subcommittee the area had been reduced to what Senator Yarborough called "compromise island" in the hope of lessening opposition and for the purpose of avoiding conflict with development. [45]

Senator Yarborough stated that the question of the size of the seashore had been principally raised by the major island property owners who wished to limit the seashore to a length between 20 and 65 miles in the middle of the island. The senator admitted that if the proposed northern boundary were moved more to the north, he might agree to a 65-mile length. The middle of the island, he stressed, was not as suitable for recreation due to its narrowness, limited passing ability by vehicles, and hazardous rough shell beaches. To limit the seashore to that area would, in the senator's opinion, "cut the heart out" of the bill. [46]

To substantiate his testimony as to the physical condition of the middle of the island, Senator Yarborough offered for the record a statement by Cash Asher of Corpus Christi, president of the Corpus Christi Outdoor Club, executive board member of the Texas Conservation Council, and longtime recreational user of Padre Island. This statement described the beaches of the proposed 88-mile seashore, section by section, in terms of accessibility and recreational opportunities. According to Mr. Asher, the best area for all forms of recreation was the first 17 miles, where the hard-packed sand formed a broad, driveable beach that gently and safely sloped into the Gulf. The House bills would remove this area from the National Seashore. The beach in this area was composed of shell banks, making four-wheel drive vehicles imperative. At Little Shell Beach, and for the rest of the proposed National Seashore area, the steeper slope of the beach and swifter offshore currents made swimming hazardous, although fishing improved in this area. Mr. Asher's statement went so far as to say that the public would be better off without a National Seashore than to accept only the middle of the island, as proposed in the House bills. Senator Yarborough said that in view of the lack of beach recreation area in the 65-mile proposal there was no justification for accepting less than the 88 miles proposed in his bill. [47]

With this explanation of his insistence on an 88-mile-long National Seashore completed, Senator Yarborough turned to the issue of mineral development and offered an amendment to his bill that would clarify protection of oil and gas rights. Senator Bible questioned him for a brief period to ensure that the amendment would indeed clarify the matter. Senator Yarborough assured the chairman that the mineral rights held by both individuals and the State of Texas would not be abridged. [48] He concluded discussion of the removal of oil and gas by pointing out that such production "is a transitory thing . . . The minerals are exhaustible, and will be used, but the inspirational appeal of the natural seashore, unchanged by bulldozers and man, is inexhaustible." [49]

The last point raised in Senator Yarborough's statement was the issue of a through highway down the length of the island. The senator told the subcommittee that the Texas Highway Department had surveyed the island as to the feasibility of such a project, but abandoned the idea due to the excessive initial expense and the continued cost of rebuilding after storms. Senator Yarborough maintained that if the State of Texas had not found the project feasible, then the Federal government should not be required to build one. [50] To require the construction of such a road in the enabling legislation, in Senator Yarborough's view, would "straightjacket" the Park Service. [51]

At the close of Senator Yarborough's statement Senator Henry Dworshak of Idaho cross-examined him thoroughly on two points: the lack of a state park on Padre Island and the compatibility of recreation and oil and gas development. Senator Dworshak first wanted to know what Texas had done to develop recreational opportunities on the island. When told that the counties at the north and south ends of the island, Nueces and Cameron, had developed small parks, while the State of Texas had done nothing, Senator Dworshak asked why not, especially in view of the millions of dollars in revenue from offshore oil and gas production. Senator Yarborough had already testified that no money from the offshore production to the State of Texas was dedicated by law to the permanent school fund, but repeated himself, adding that those funds could not be diverted to fund park development. He said that it was not a case of the State of Texas being unwilling to develop a state park, as Senator Dworshak implied in his question, but that the area would be better off in the hands of the National Park Service. He insisted that an area such as Padre Island was a national treasure, and deserved to be protected as a resource of national, not simply local, importance. [52] Senator Yarborough added later in his testimony that when potential tourists:

start out and look on the map and see a national park--they will know they will have national park rangers, comfort stations, proper policing. You might have it on the State park and might have it better. But the people of the other forty-nine states don't know it. [53]

The second line of questioning Senator Dworshak pursued was the compatibility of recreation and oil and gas development. After examining Senator Yarborough on how much of the proposed seashore was being developed as oil-producing land, Senator Dworshak asked if tourism and oil production could be mixed, adding that "probably you can't have both concurrently." [54] Senator Yarborough asserted that the two could be mixed, and were mixed, judging by the number of current visitors to the island. He added that these visitors only wanted regulations that would "prevent oil from being turned loose in there," meaning regulations that would ensure non-damaging exploration and production. [55] Senator Dworshak misunderstood the answer and asked, "Who is going to stop this oil development? Do you people in Texas want development or tourism?" [56] These questions reflected a common misunderstanding by the general public, who saw the issue of the compatibility of oil and gas development and recreation as an either/or situation. Either there could be production or there could be recreation, but certainly not both, since oil and gas wells, in the public mind, meant oil spewing from derricks and despoiling the countryside. Senator Yarborough explained that there need not be conflict between development and recreation. Barnacles and other food sources found on the offshore platforms attracted fish and both conventional and spear fishermen who found that offshore platforms provided excellent fishing. [57]

Despite this assurance as to the compatibility of the two activities, and despite the amendment to the bill to protect oil and gas rights within the proposed National Seashore area, Senator Dworshak persisted in his belief in the incompatibility of development and recreation. Senator Dworshak continued that mineral exploration was not allowed within the boundaries of national parks. Senator Yarborough admitted that this was true in conventional national parks but that Padre Island would be an exception. [58]

Senator Yarborough did not attempt to explain that this exception was due to the difference between the stated missions of national parks and national seashores or national recreational areas. He undoubtedly realized that Senator Dworshak had a conviction that Padre Island should be a state park. This was borne out by Senator Dworshak's return to the idea in his final questions before being cut off by the chairman due to the scheduled noon recess. Senator Dworshak's low opinion of the necessity for a National Seashore was established in his comments after Senator Yarborough submitted in corroboration of his testimony telegrams from the Texas State Parks Board and the chairman of the Legislative Beach Study Committee, State Senator Robert W. Baker. [59] Senator Dworshak commented that:

with all that influence, you could probably very easily get the creation of a State park there with all those big shots ready to support that for recreational purposes. You don't need any Federal assistance. You can establish a State park in a few days. [60]

The testimony of the afternoon session witnesses progressed more rapidly than the morning session testimony. To accommodate as many of the witnesses from Texas as possible, Senator Bible requested that prepared statements be summarized, not read, and that the statements and additional information be given to the subcommittee for insertion in the hearing minutes. The questioning of the afternoon witnesses was brief and lacked the hostile tone of some of the morning examinations, perhaps because these witnesses were private citizens and local government officials who were removed from any frictions within the Federal government.

The first witness of the afternoon was Ben McDonald, the newly elected mayor of Corpus Christi, accompanied by two city councilmen, W.R. Roberts and Jose DeLeon. All three men enthusiastically supported S.4. They agreed that the National Seashore should be 88 miles long and that the Park Service should not be restricted by a legislated requirement for a through roadway. Mayor McDonald stated that it was difficult to find any controversy in the city on the project. In the recent election in Corpus Christi for mayor and councilmen, 21 of the 22 candidates favored the National Seashore as proposed in S.4 and favored leaving all development plans to the National Park Service. Mayor McDonald added that the main objection the city had in the past to the National Seashore designation was the possible interference with the Navy's use of the area. When the Navy assured the city in 1959 that a National Seashore would not hinder Naval activities, this objection was removed. [61]

Oscar Dancy, county judge of Cameron County almost continuously since 1920, was the next afternoon witness; his colorful testimony reflected his support for Senator Yarborough's bill. He denounced the move to require road construction through the National Seashore. He further claimed that if the road were a requirement, the park would never be built because "nonresident speculators will boost the price." [62] He presented two resolutions offering qualified support to the seashore from the Commissioners Court of Cameron County, over which he presided. Judge Dancy pointed out that he abstained from voting on the second resolution, which contained the qualification that a road be required in the enabling legislation and if it were not, the resolution recommended that the State of Texas refuse its consent. [63] At the close of his written statement, Judge Dancy inserted an example of what he feared might happen if the National Seashore were shortened and a road required:

Since the [1959] hearing in Corpus Christi, these greedy, nonresident speculators have got in their work and to show how greedy they are, they would have us take just fifty miles, leaving Cameron County out and if they could just put their proposition over, they would make such a killing that Florida's boom would look like chicken feed. One of these landowners has already divided up his tract in Cameron County and sold it without any access road. The only way to get to these lots is up the beach. [64]

Judge Dancy also adamantly opposed the House version of the park bill to reduce the size as supported by Representatives Kilgore and Young. He would later become an outspoken critic of the House version and wholly support Senator Yarborough's proposal. [65]

Armand Yramategui, president of the Texas Conservation Council, livened up the proceedings with his testimony. While presenting an additional 5,486 signatures to add to the 12,300 presented in 1959, he emphasized that these signatures, when added to the numbers represented by organizations supporting S.4, totaled around 100,000 citizens. Mr. Yramategui then attacked the 65-mile proposal in the House bills as a special interest project favored by a few speculators, compared to the thousands of citizens in support of S.4. When he accused Representatives Young and Kilgore of "trying to scuttle the whole proposal," he had to be cautioned by Senator Yarborough that Congressional rules protected members from attack. [66] Senator Bible ordered that certain sections of Mr. Yramategui's testimony be deleted, and added that he thought "it would help the committee if we did not go into the motives of those who might be interested in this bill." [67]

Mr. Yramategui restrained his hostility toward speculators for most of the remainder of his testimony and concentrated on suggesting alternatives to reducing the National Seashore area to permit private development. With an 88-mile long seashore, he pointed out, there would still be around 45 miles on Padre Island and adjoining Mustang Island available for development, but that tourist facilities established on the mainland would be best for all concerned. If built on the mainland, these facilities would not be exposed directly to Gulf storms and "the uncertainties" of Gulf beach installations. The public would be spared the expense of million-dollar seawalls. Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities for the thousands that would use the public area in the proposed National Seashore do not require unique Gulf beach areas." [68]

After submitting resolutions supporting S.4 from 14 additional organizations, Mr. Yramategui lapsed back into a condemnation of the House bills. He claimed that the road requirement in those seashore bills was directly in line with the objectives of the promoters and speculators, a fact which many Texans viewed with disgust. He concluded, "certainly, not by the widest stretch of the imagination, do the Young and Kilgore bills represent the expressed wishes of the people of Texas." [69]

The last S.4 partisan of the afternoon session, Mrs. Esther Goodrich, a board member of the Texas Conservation Council, raised two good points, which had not yet been brought to the attention of the subcommittee. Both points addressed the need for a larger National Seashore with room for a central roadless region. Mrs. Goodrich suggested that the larger area would not only provide space for recreational purposes but also allow ample room for scientific study of seashore plants and wildlife and room for refuges for shore creatures. [70] Mrs. Goodrich reminded the Subcommittee members that when the first national parks were established, they "seemed extremely large and ample for generations," yet now suffered from overcrowding. [71] She predicted that "our National Seashores will find themselves inevitably in the same situation a few years hence" and once the seashore was set up it would be impossible to increase the size. [72]

The last two witnesses of the afternoon represented two groups favoring the House versions of the seashore bill. The first, Art Baughman of Raymondville, Texas, represented the Willacy County Commissioners Court. The second, David M. Coover, an attorney from Corpus Christi, represented the individual landowners who held 40 percent of Padre Island. [73]

Mr. Baughman presented a resolution from the Willacy County Commissioners Court in support of a National Seashore on Padre Island. This resolution included a recommendation to the State of Texas that it not give the permission required by law unless a road requirement were added to any enabling legislation. The commissioners requested that paved roads, bridges, and ferries be provided to make the entire length of the park accessible from Corpus Christi to Port Isabel "for the safety and convenience of the public," and that a causeway be constructed from Port Mansfield to Padre Island. [74] Mr. Baughman emphasized the safety aspect of the road requirement, rather than the convenience of a through road. He pointed out that during major storms the danger to the public on unprotected Gulf islands was immense, especially without quick evacuation routes, and gave as an example the 1935 Key West storm that claimed 365 lives. [75]

The last witness of the first day of the hearing, David M. Coover, a lawyer from Corpus Christi, represented the owners of 40 percent of the surface of Padre Island and the owners of 90 percent of the mineral rights. When asked how many people owned land on Padre Island, Mr. Coover replied that six individuals and three corporations owned the surface land and that mineral rights were divided among perhaps as many as one hundred people. [76] Mr. Coover failed to mention that he and Burton Dunn, Patrick Dunn's son, owned the cattle that grazed on Padre Island, which they would continue to do through 1970. His testimony centered on three points: the need for a road through the National Seashore, the desirability of the shorter stretch of Padre Island for the seashore, and the importance of the Naval Air Station to Corpus Christi. Mr. Coover emphasized the need for a road through the National Seashore for safety and convenience. He said the danger of tourists being caught by a hurricane was not the only hazard to exploring the island by car; tides were also hazards. He was often called upon to aid motorists and tourists stuck in the soft sand on the beach. [77]

In order to give the Committee a better reason for a shorter National Seashore, other than the economic benefit to his clients, Mr. Coover praised the beauty of the middle stretch of Padre Island. He told the Committee that people like to hunt shells on that part of the island because the shells are larger and less likely to be broken. He claimed that it was a cleaner beach with cleaner water than to the north and south because it was a shell beach, not a sand beach that muddies the water. [78] These claims ignored the fact that the sand beach areas of the island were safer for swimming, and the fact that shell beaches do not fit the beach image in the public mind. Mr. Coover would state in 1970, when negotiations on renewal of his grazing permit were under discussion, that he much preferred the northern end for grazing because of better corrals and that a four-wheel drive vehicle was not necessary for access. [79]

Mr. Coover pointed out to the Committee that many businessmen in Corpus Christi were concerned about the effect of the National Seashore on the Naval Air Station. Expressing the fear that if the Navy were not allowed targets on Padre Island, it might close the base, he said that Corpus Christi was dependent upon the Navy payroll, and called it "our lifeblood in that community." [80] Senator Yarborough addressed this concern by citing the 1959 correspondence between Senator Johnson and the deputy chief of Naval Operations, Vice Admiral Ralph E. Wilson, on that topic. The final letter assured the senator that if the Navy were permitted to gradually phase out use of the Padre Island targets while phasing in replacement targets, it "would result in only a loss of convenience... The potential benefits that the public will realize from this National Seashore park are such that the Navy will not object." [81] Mr. Coover asked that those statements be investigated to insure that the Navy had not reconsidered; Senator Dworshak concurred, noting that the statement was two years old. [82] Again, David Coover failed to mention that he was one of the owners receiving lease payments from the Navy for its use.

Senator Dworshak closed the day's hearing with one final question addressed to Mr. Coover. Again he questioned the compatibility of oil and gas development and recreation. Mr. Coover replied that with "the exception of curiosity of people... if people conducted themselves properly," the two activities would be compatible, just as they had proved in the past on Padre Island. [83]

The hearing continued on the afternoon of April 13. Three of the five witnesses were representatives of groups with economic interests in Padre Island: a lawyer from Sun Oil Company; a lawyer from Standard Oil Company of Texas; and a lawyer representing the three land-owning corporations. Also appearing before the Committee was State Representative Ronald Bridges from Corpus Christi, who co-authored the enabling legislation, and the president of a sportsman's organization.

Tom E. Bryan from the Legal Department of Sun Oil opened his testimony with an assurance to the committee that, with the changes made by Senator Yarborough in the wording of S.4, Sun Oil was satisfied that its operations in the Laguna Madre were protected. [84] Mr. Bryan told the senators that the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service had been "very cooperative with us in discussions." [85] He was confident that a mutual understanding of problems existed and that these problems could be worked out without affecting the operations of the seashore or the industry." [86]

C.W. Proctor of the Land and Legal Department of Standard Oil of Texas testified as to the extent of Standard Oil's operations on the island. He described the drilling sites on the island as unobtrusive and showed pictures of a typical site. [87] Mr. Proctor also described Standard Oil's condensate recovery plant and storage facilities on a 100-acre Padre Island site. Saying that Standard Oil considered the field fully developed as far as the extent of area was concerned, Mr. Proctor saw no need for ever increasing the size of the facilities. [88] When Senator Bible asked if another installation would be required if another field were opened to the south, Mr. Proctor replied it would depend on practical economics, but they would probably use the existing plant. [89]

Senator Dworshak once more brought up the feasibility of having recreation and oil and gas development, this time questioning Mr. Proctor. The senator asked Mr. Proctor if he was opposed to the development of "this park," and whether the area was "more desirable for recreation development or for continued exploration for oil and gas production." [90] Mr. Proctor reiterated his earlier support for the National Seashore and added that Standard Oil was confident it could "live within the regulations and without interference with the use to which it will be put." [91] Senator Dworshak then inquired if it were "feasible and logical to have picnickers and oil people hobnobbing together." [92] After Mr. Proctor expressed his belief that the two could coexist, Senator Dworshak yielded, saying "I know they do a lot of peculiar things in Texas. I am open to conviction." [93]

John D. McCall, a lawyer from Dallas, appeared next before the subcommittee both as a representative and a stockholder of the three corporations organized for the purpose of owning land on Padre Island: Laguna Madre Corporation, Baffin Bay Corporation, and South Padre, Incorporated. These corporations owned one-half interest in land in Kleberg, Kenedy, and Cameron Counties, most of which would be within the boundaries of the National Seashore as proposed in S.4. [94]

Mr. McCall pointed out to the subcommittee that he favored the establishment of a National Seashore; he had met with the Park Service several years ago to discuss the possibility. He objected to the length of the proposed seashore, saying that he had always been of the opinion that "a very substantial part of the Island should be reserved for private development." [95] Mr. McCall said that he was aware of the suggestions that private development could expand northward onto Mustang Island, but explained that the corporations planned "a different type of improvement" for Padre Island, with more public parks and "more landscaping and beautification." [96]

The road issue came up in Mr. McCall's testimony, as expected. He maintained that the public originally assumed that a through road would be a part of the seashore and many withdrew their approval when they found there were no plans for such a road. Indeed, as Judge Dancy testified, several civic organizations made their approval contingent upon a legislated road. [97] Senator Bible asked about the frequency of hurricanes in the area, and wondered about the feasibility of establishing a National Seashore park where hurricanes were common occurrences. Mr. McCall assured the senator that if there were a road down the island there would be little danger, and pointed out that due to the geographical location of National Seashores, all fell into a similar category of risk. [98]

State Representative Ronald Bridges of Corpus Christi testified after Mr. McCall. As coauthor of the pending enabling legislation required by S.4 at the state level to authorize the creation of a National Seashore, he came to plead for the full 88-mile length. He claimed that both tourists and Texans would be disillusioned and disappointed to find that the better beaches, swimming, and camping areas were outside the National Seashore. [99] In stereotypical Texas politician style he said:

I would feel, as I think most South Texans would feel, like the poor Mexican boy who for Christmas wanted a leather jacket, but had to settle for a tattered sweater. And I would submit that the 65-mile area or anything less than 85 miles, would be more like the tattered sweater. [100]

Representative Bridges stressed the point that the very qualities making the central portion of the island suitable for beach recreation were the qualities that made it suitable for a roadless wilderness area. [101]

The National Park Service Re-evaluates. 1962

The Senate and the House hearings produced no immediate legislative action in the following months, nor did the July continuation of the House hearings. The Park Service busily gathered information to answer questions raised in the hearings, particularly in the area of estimated acreage and acquisition cost. Proponents of S.4 continued writing letters of support and Senator Yarborough continued to insert pro-National Seashore speeches into Congressional proceedings.

The acreage contained in the proposed 88-mile seashore proved difficult to pin down to an exact number. The barrier island shifted constantly, and much of the acreage counted in surveys were mudflat barrens, subject to periodic inundation. Using the United States Geological Survey maps, the Park Service estimated that the proposed area covered approximately 328,000 acres: 57,000 of dry land, 124,000 of mudflats, and 147,000 in water. Only the dry land and part of the mudflats, a total of about 120,000 acres, were privately owned; the remainder belonged to the State of Texas. [102]

In an initial memorandum on the topic of acquisition costs it was pointed out that the figure of $100 per acre had been mentioned in the original meeting with Mr. McCall in 1957. By 1961 land outside the proposed boundaries was selling for as much as $600 an acre. It would not be reasonable to use the speculative price of land near developments and roads as a guideline for estimating seashore costs, and Park Service personnel realized this. Yet even at the 1957 figure, the cost of 120,000 acres would be $12 million, far more than price limits in any existing legislation. [103]

Additional time was spent by Park Service personnel in July verifying rumors of land transactions and interest in Padre Island by a rocket manufacturer. The land transactions' rumor was founded in truth: parcels of land in Kenedy, Willacy, and Cameron Counties, totaling almost 25,000 acres, were transferred from the Padre Corporation to the South Padre Investment Corporation. Very little money changed hands in the transfer, and an area attorney suggested to Park Service personnel that the transaction was generally thought to be a method of establishing a purchase price for acreage within the National Seashore area. [104] The transfer would later pose significant problems in acquiring land for the new National Seashore.

The rumor of interest in Padre Island by Aerojet General Corporation also proved to be true. In response to the Park Service query Aerojet admitted its interest in acquiring a 10- to 15-mile stretch with a northern border being the Nueces and Kenedy county line in addition to a mainland site. The Padre Island site would be used to conduct static test firings of large rocket motors two to three times a week. The area would, naturally, be posted to keep out intruders, yet the response concluded that Aerojet believed their operations "would not seriously affect the plans of the Park Service for the development of Padre Island." [105] Aerojet's interest, however, depended on further studies and on the company receiving additional contracts from the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. [106] The area that Aerojet described as ideal for its purpose was also the most desirable part of Padre Island. The Regional Director speculated that "it would be a bit surprising if this [area] could be acquired for rocket testing as it would be much more profitable to subdivide and sell this part of the Island for residential and business purposes." [107] The Aerojet interest died shortly after the initial letter confirming the rumor.

In late June Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Director Wirth, and several Federal and Texas legislators inspected Padre Island by helicopter and by car. Newspaper reports indicated that Padre Island favorably impressed all in the group. The chairman of the Senate Interior Committee, Senator Clinton Anderson, who participated in the tour, told reporters that he wanted to see a bill to establish a National Seashore passed in the current session. [108]

The inspection tour spurred legislative movement; by the first of September the Public Lands Subcommittee sent S.4 to the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. [109] However, Hurricane Carla hit the Texas coast in the second week of September and gave cause for delay in Washington. Senator Dworshak, whose prejudices against the proposal showed during the senatorial hearings, seized the opportunity to ask for, and get, a deferment in action by the committee until January 1962. [110] Senator Yarborough pointed out two weeks later that with modern hurricane tracking there was ample warning and no loss of life. He also took the opportunity to mention that such storms illustrate why a through road would be unfeasible. [111]

State and Federal Differences, 1962

August and September marked the start of a growing controversy in Texas over whether Padre Island should be a national or state park. State Land Commissioner Jerry Sadler began claiming that a National Seashore that took over state-owned tidelands would prohibit the removal of oil and gas, thus depriving Texas of millions of dollars in revenues dedicated to the permanent public school fund. Using emotionally charged phrases such as "summarily stripped of such great wealth," Commissioner Sadler persuaded Governor Price Daniel to appoint a statewide committee to study the feasibility of a state park in place of the National Seashore. [112]

The Governor's committee consisted of the County Judges from the five counties in the Padre Island area, representatives from the five state agencies primarily concerned with the proposal, and five members-at-large representing the public. The committee met for the first time October 2. Governor Daniel's remarks to the committee made it clear that his main concern was with the possibility of the hampering of hunting, fishing, and oil and gas recovery in the waters surrounding Padre Island if Texas ceded these areas to the Federal government. A representative of the State General Land Office claimed a possible loss of $l billion to the public school system, but these were the only direct remarks against a National Seashore. All other State and County committee members expressed doubt that the Texas Legislature would furnish adequate funds. Governor Daniel appointed four subcommittees to study various aspects of State development of an island park. [113]

At the November meeting of the Governor's committee, Leslie Arnberger of Region III had the opportunity to contradict Commissioner Sadler's allegations of attempted robbery of the school children of Texas. During the Commissioner's statement, it was pointed out to him that the bills in Congress provided for the continued ownership of minerals by the present owners, both private and State. Mr. Sadler refused to believe that the Department of the Interior would be reasonable in its regulation of mineral development. After the meeting Mr. Arnberger submitted a report to the Park Service recommending that consideration be given to further concessions on the submerged lands and the road question. If the State-owned submerged lands were excluded, possibly an easement could buffer the National Seashore from intrusive uses, but the through road could not, in Mr. Arnberger's opinion, be justified due to the excessive costs of construction and maintenance. [114]

Governor Price Daniel met privately with Leslie Arnberger after the November meeting. Although publicly Daniel stated he was opposed to giving the State's submerged land in the Laguna Madre and mudflats to the Federal government, the Governor later said he might support an easement on such but suggested that the Legislature would not go along with deeding the submerged lands without a through road. Daniel continued to tell Arnberger that he would be in favor of a long seashore, maybe 75 miles, and questioned Arnberger on the pending Senate bill that would award grants to State governments for parks. The Governor was probably referring to the Land and Water Conservation Fund Bill, designed to provide assistance for acquisition and development of park land. The Bill, developed and supported by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, seemed directly related to Padre Island and other state areas such as the Big Thicket, of special interest to Daniel. [115] Arnberger remarked in his report on the meeting with Governor Daniel that it was clear to him that Texas could not manage a State park on Padre Island and that it was necessary for the Federal government to intervene. [116]

Within a week of the November meeting, Governor Daniel wrote to Director Wirth. Most of his letter focused on the comparison of Cape Hatteras to Padre Island. He pointed out that the National Park Service built a road through Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and then proceeded to remark on the expenses incurred there to develop and operate it as a National Seashore. Daniel then asked the Park Service to provide statistics on how much more would be spent on Cape Hatteras through 1966. [117] Director Wirth responded within a month saying that he conceded to reduce the size of the proposed National Seashore and would discuss the road issue after knowing the area designated by Congress. Wirth then supplied Governor Daniel with information on operating and developing Cape Hatteras. This comparison continued to arise in discussions on Padre Island, but the full extent of fiscal data had never been repeated. Wirth calculated that more than $4 million was spent between 1953 and 1961 on development and operation, with $1.725 million on land acquisition, $88,000 in appropriations, and the remainder from the Avalon and Old Dominion Foundations and State of North Carolina. The Park Service estimated that $888,000 would be spent between July 1, 1962, and June 30, 1966. [118] The Governor's inquiries and statements fell in line with the opinion of the conservative wing of the State's Democratic party. He remained publicly ambivalent about the size and content of the Padre Island National Seashore, similar to the positions of Representatives Kilgore and Young, but privately he seemed to favor Federal action on the proposal in order to eliminate the necessity for State action.

Senate Hearings and Passage of S.4. 1962

By January 1962, Senator Yarborough faced the reality that after years of working for the Padre Island designation there was little to show for the effort. Former Senator Lyndon Johnson, now vice president in the Kennedy administration, continued to assert his power to prohibit Congressional approval of Yarborough's legislation. At one point, Senator Johnson approached Yarborough with a compromise for approving the legislation. If Yarborough agreed to a small park on Padre, he would work to name the park for him. Senator Yarborough declined the compromise. [119] Within a short time, however, a break appeared in the Johnson-Yarborough disagreement. White House officials announced that Vice President Johnson would be leaving for a tour of Southeast Asia. Richard, Senator Yarborough's son and Legislative Assistant, approached the senator with a strategy for getting the Padre legislation approved. With Johnson absent from Washington for an extended period, Senator Yarborough and his supporters had the time to work without interference. Yarborough immediately implemented the strategy within the Congressional network. [120]

On March 6, 1962, the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs issued its long-awaited report on S.4. The Committee changed the bill slightly by amendments that were, on the whole, of a perfecting nature, designed to clarify the language of the bill. The only specific changes called for by the Committee were the limitation of mineral development to oil and gas, the provision for the fullest possible development of oil and gas, and the continued recognition of existing wildlife refuges. [121] The minority views on S.4., signed by five members led by Senators Dworshak and Allott, contained those points to which the two Senators kept returning in their cross-examination of witnesses. These points included the perceived need for a legislated through road, the potentially hazardous weather conditions, the lack of specific development plans by the Park Service, the questionable compatibility of recreation and oil and gas development, the advantages of a shorter length, the ongoing controversy within the State government on a state park versus a National Seashore, the military need for use of Padre Island, and the inadequacy of the authorization for acquisition costs. [122] Despite these views, the will of the majority of the Committee prevailed and the bill, as amended, came before the Senate for consideration on April 10, 1962. [123]

The presence of S.4 on the floor of the Senate sparked considerable debate. The new junior senator from Texas, John Tower, affiliated with the Republican party who won Lyndon Johnson's seat in a special election, joined with Senator Allott in speaking out against passage of the bill. They first requested that it be sent back to the committee and when this was defeated, they repeated the minority views put out in the report in an attempt to convince the Senate of the validity of their viewpoints. [124] Senator Allott then presented an amendment to the entire Senate to force the Park Service to build a road through the length of the National Seashore with causeways to the mainland at both ends. The Senate rejected this ploy by a two-to-one margin. [125] He then attempted to add [...text missing...] [126] and on April 11, 1962, was referred to the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. [127] Richard Yarborough's legislative strategy worked.

The House Committee reviewed S.4 and on August 13, 1962, referred the amended bill to the Committee of the whole House for passage. [128] The amendments recommended by the Committee did not change S.4 drastically. The first amendment reduced the length to 80 miles. The second moved the western boundary from the Intracoastal Waterway to 1,500 feet west of the line surveyed as the edge of dry land, thus excluding most of the Laguna Madre and State-owned mudflats. The third amendment increased the acquisition appropriation from $4 million to $5 million. The fourth eliminated the provision to allow permits granting life estates to those whose property would be within the seashore. [129] After much debate, the amended bill passed the House and returned to the Senate. [130]

In the Senate, these amendments were read and explained. Both Senators Bible and Yarborough agreed to the amendments added by the House. Senator Yarborough said that although the size of the National Seashore was reduced, it was an acceptable compromise. The Senate concurred with the amendment of S.4. [131] On the next day, September 19, 1962, both Vice President Johnson and the Speaker of the House examined and signed S.4 and sent it to President Kennedy.

On September 28, 1962, in the presence of Senator Yarborough, President Kennedy signed S.4, establishing Padre Island National Seashore. [132]

Pres. Kennedy
Figure 14. President John F. Kennedy Signing Legislation for Padre Island National Seashore, 1962. Photo courtesy PAIS Archives.

Despite President Kennedy's signature on S.4, the National Seashore still faced opposition from interested parties in Texas, where the State Legislature had not yet approved S.4. Commissioner Sadler fought on throughout the remainder of 1962, and tried continually to claim that the State would lose millions, that the school children of Texas would be robbed, and that S.4 had caused a drop in oil bonuses. [133] Oilmen disagreed with these statements, and Nueces County Judge Noah Kennedy was quoted as saying that "I feel sure in the future everything. . . will be blamed on the Seashore bill by Mr. Sadler." [134]

This persistent and vigorous opposition by Commissioner Sadler made his announcement at the end of January even more surprising: in an abrupt about face he claimed to have been many times misquoted and misunderstood and offered his cooperation and support for the bill in the Legislature. [135] The bill passed through both chambers and went to Governor John Connally in March. On August 23, 1963, Commissioner Sadler, Governor Connally, and Attorney Waggoner Carr signed the deed giving the State-owned lands to the Federal government. [136]

Except for later bills to increase funds available for acquisition costs, the legislative action on Padre Island National Seashore was complete. To make the Seashore a reality rested in the hands of the National Park Service. Senator Yarborough and the thousands of National Seashore supporters had prevailed.

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Last Updated: 14-Jun-2005