A $1 million contribution in support of Balmorhea State Park pool repairs was presented by Apache Corporation at a meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday.
The check presentation marks the culmination of a $2 million fundraising effort led by Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF).
The pool at Balmorhea State Park was closed in early 2018 following a structural collapse of a wall caused by years of erosion from the flow of water from the springs.
The fundraising effort was jump-started with a $1 million challenge grant announced by TPWF and Apache in August 2018. Apache pledged to match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million.
Donations poured in, and by January 17, more than $1 million had been raised.
Apache Chief Executive Officer and President John J. Christmann IV delivered the check to the Commission this morning, and announced that in addition to the $1 million challenge grant, Apache is pledging an additional $1 million contribution to establish an endowment to benefit Balmorhea State Park in perpetuity.
“Balmorhea State Park is a real Texas treasure and an iconic asset for the community. We’re grateful for the work of both Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and were moved by the outpouring of support from the broader community and our many partners who joined us in this effort,” said Christmann. “In addition to our $1 million match to help repair the pool, the establishment of a long-term endowment through an additional $1 million contribution will supplement the park’s existing budget and incrementally fund improvements over time to help ensure the pool and the park can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
More than 575 donations were received from all corners of the state, with 60 percent of the donations under $100. Several Texas companies made significant contributions, including Texas Pacific Land Trust, Saulsbury Industries, McCoy Remme Ranches, Legend Energy Services, Pioneer Energy Services, and Garrison Brothers Distillery.
Raising private funds for this $2 million project will allow available state funding to be used for other critical repair needs across the state park system.
State park facilities throughout Texas have been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and devastating floods in recent years. Apache’s new $1 million endowment will provide resources for Balmorhea State Park enhancement projects in the future that are above and beyond standard maintenance projects provided through state funds.
“We are beyond grateful to Apache for stepping forward to help with our restoration efforts at Balmorhea State Park,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. “Without a doubt, their leadership and generosity, coupled with the support of many other organizations and individuals who met their challenge to help save this west Texas oasis, has allowed the department to make critical repairs to the pool without having to sacrifice other much needed park projects around the state. Additionally, the new endowment being established by Apache will allow the department to continue making important improvements to Texas’ favorite swimming hole and help ensure that Balmorhea State Park stays open for future generations to enjoy.”
The iconic pool at Balmorhea State Park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s and is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.
More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs.
The 1.3-acre pool is up to 25 feet deep, holds 3.5 million gallons of water and the water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round.
“We are deeply grateful for Apache’s generosity in establishing the challenge grant and for stepping up again with a $1 million endowment,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Executive Director Anne Brown. “The incredible response from Texas companies and Texas citizens who chipped in demonstrates just how much people love Balmorhea’s pool.”
The repairs to the pool at Balmorhea State Park are ongoing.