Texas spends Gulf oil spill cash on conservation


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

HOUSTON -
Texas is the first state to confirm a deal to spend settlement money from the Gulf oil spill for long-term coastal conservation, working with a private nonprofit to cut through red tape and buy 80 acres of prime habitat for endangered whooping cranes.

A three-way deal calls for MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, a partner in the ill-fated offshore well, to give $2 million to the Texas Nature Conservancy, which will use it to buy a tract of coastal land where whooping cranes spend the winter. The nonprofit will then give the property to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to be incorporated into Goose Island State Park. The contract with the landowner has been signed and the handover is tentatively set to be finalized by the end of May.

The Associated Press was given the details of the deal signed Tuesday before it was made public. The arrangement allowed the state agency to bypass cumbersome red tape that often slows down government business and to quickly acquire land that likely would have been sold and subdivided for residential use.

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