New Dan A. Hughes Unit honors namesake’s role in key acquisition.
On May 21 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorized the renaming of the Big Satan Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area. The new Dan A. Hughes Unit honors the role of its namesake in helping the state acquire this unique property.
Hughes, father of TPW Commission chairman Dan A. Hughes Jr., is a well-known South Texas oil and gas businessman, outdoors enthusiast and conservationist. In 2010, Hughes led a key group of individuals in raising more than $10 million in private donations toward the purchase of 17,000 acres along the Devils River in Val Verde County. The donations also helped cover initial operating expenses as well as development of a master plan for joint public use of the property and the 20,000-acre Del Norte Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area about 13 miles upstream.
“The acquisition of this culturally and environmentally unique piece of Texas likely could not have happened without Mr. Hughes’ spirit of generosity and leadership,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “The Department today took an important step to thank an individual who has given so much in the name of conservation and our great outdoors. Thanks to all the donors who made this possible, future generations of Texans will forever be able to see firsthand why Mr. Hughes was so passionate about protecting this Unit and this most pristine of rivers for the enjoyment of all.”
The Dan A. Hughes Unit has 10 miles of frontage on the Devils River and Amistad Reservoir with spectacular views from mesas and canyons, and a variety of wildlife habitats.
At Del Norte, visitors can enjoy day hiking, primitive camping, nature viewing, mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, and fishing. There is also a Group Barracks that holds up to 10 people. The Dan A. Hughes Unit is not yet open to the public.
The Devils River complex is classified as a state natural area instead of a state park. This designation emphasizes the conservation of the properties’ unique cultural and natural resources, particularly the spring-fed river considered by scientists to be the most pristine in all the state. Educational and recreational opportunities are being planned that will preserve these special attributes, while at the same time allowing limited, resources-compatible public access and use of these ecologically fragile properties.