Congress may soon get a chance to approve the creation of a new national park in the Waco, Texas, area. This development may prove a real boon to the local real estate market. A new park will generate the need for tourist related facilities, such as gas stations, motels and restaurants. Expect an increase in land prices in the area surrounding the proposed five acre national park. Local attorneys who practice real estate and construction law may find themselves in the midst of some interesting negotiations between the big city gas station and motel franchisors and the local landowners.
The possible new park centers on the discovery and excavation of the bones of 25 Columbian mammoths. The Columbian mammoth is a warm weather cousin to the woolly mammoth, with which some of us are more familiar.
Baylor University and the City of Waco are preparing to allow the public to have their first look at the “Waco Mammoth Site”, after several decades of clandestine work uncovering the remains. The National Park Service has indicated that the site meets its criteria for a national park, although the final decision will be made by Congress, and funding for a park may be hard to find.
It is hard to overestimate the significance of this site. The Waco Mammoth Site, along the Bosque River, was first discovered in 1978, but has been kept quiet until now due to fears of theft or vandalism. The site is believed to be the largest known concentration of prehistoric mammoths perishing from a single event. It appears that the animals may have been caught in a flash flood and then a mudslide that killed them all at one time. The first fifteen mammoths uncovered were grouped in a circle, facing outward, protecting young mammoths in the center. Two adults were found with juvenile mammoths in their tusks, as if they were trying to raise the youngsters above the mud.
Baylor University, the City of Waco and the Waco Mammoth Site Foundation are working hard to raise the funds to build a visitor’s center, roads, and a climate-controlled pavilion for display of the bones. As Jim Vaughn, the president of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has pointed out, this will be a unique draw for the Waco area, and is likely to attract many visitors because it is so accessible. Ellie Caston, director of the Mayborn Museum in Waco, estimates that tourists to the site could number between 50,000 to 300,000 a year.