Bradley's Blackball

Despite Developer's Poison Pen, Scientist Prevails

The following letter was sent by Gary Bradley to Andy Sansom, head of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). Bradley, a local real estate developer whose debt-laden deals have cost federal taxpayers at least
$90 million, wanted to prevent the addition of David Bowles to the Barton Springs Salamander Conservation Team (BSSCT), which was formed to help implement the conservation agreement entered into by the state and the Interior Department last year. Bowles, who has a doctorate in aquatic entomology, is one of TPWD's most knowledgeable biologists regarding salamanders.

Looks like no amount of string-pulling by Bradley with his "friend" Sansom had any effect, though. Bowles has since become the chairman of the BSSCT, which, given the letter, probably doesn't please Bradley. (Phone calls to Bradley were not returned, and Sansom could not be reached by press time). Bowles has seen the letter; he told the Chronicle last week that Bradley "is entitled to his opinion," but added that "I think my leadership so far has been successful and we are moving forward with the agreement."

The BSSCT will meet from 9am-noon on Saturday, March 1, at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center, 26th & Red River. The public may offer comments on the salamander protection strategy.


illustration by Doug Potter

September 26, 1996
Andy Sansom
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas 78744
Dear Andy,

I am sorry you and I have been unable to get together. I had one issue that I wanted to speak to you about. I did not think it was appropriate for me to discuss it with Mr. Cook or any of your subordinates.

Hopefully, you know that I still regard you very much a friend and I remain grateful to you for the help that you have offered over the years. I write this letter in the firm belief that what I am suggesting is not only in my best interest, but also in yours.

I am certain that a tremendous amount of effort was put forth (by both the Democrats and Republicans) to get the [U.S.] Department of [the] Interior to accept a conservation agreement with the state for the protection of the Barton Springs salamander. I believe everyone feels very positive about the solution and everyone that I know of, expect for a few environmental zealots, would like to see the conservation agreement succeed. Unfortunately, the selection of David Bowles as Parks and Wildlife's representative on the monitoring body for the Conservation Agreement has the potential to become controversial. There is some feeling in the landowner community that Mr. Bowles, although no doubt a good scientist, may not have sufficient policy experience and sensitivity to address the complex issues that go far beyond biological analysis. I think some of the concern regarding Mr. Bowles is a product of guilt by association, which I do not condone.

At the same time, his previous actions would suggest that he very much favored the listing of the salamander and considered landowner scientific commentary to be an "opposing view."

Bottom line, there is a great deal of opposition to David Bowles' selection due to the position he expressed at the ABAT meeting and other factors, warranted or not. This opposition is well organized, focused, and is unlikely to go away. I am not sure what form this opposition will ultimately take, and it may not manifest itself until the next session. As a friend, I am suggesting to you that it is in all of our best interests to attempt to resolve this issue as tactfully as possible. I am confident that Larry McKinney, Gary Graham, or possibly some other individual at Parks and Wildlife having the requisite regulator and policy background and seniority, could do an outstanding job in this role and enjoy the support of both the environmental and development communities. Surely we have all had enough controversy. Let's place our trust in people who have demonstrated experience in complex situations such as these and move forward with a positive agenda.

Your friend,

Gary Bradley

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