A hidden gem lay just north of Amarillo – twelve thousand acres of public land known as the Cross Bar Management Area. Some fifteen miles northwest of Amarillo, Texas, the BLM administers 38,256 acres of acquired Federal mineral estate and 11,834 acres of surface estate on the Cross Bar. The Cross Bar SRMA is the only BLM-administered surface estate in Texas and is becoming increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Since 2012, the BLM has quietly improved recreation opportunities there, but there is more work to be accomplished to meet mandated Special Recreation Management Area designation requirements. The property is landlocked and the only current access is via traversing the Canadian River.
The Cross Bar was originally acquired from Humble Oil & Refining Company on March 6, 1931, under the Acts of 1925 and 1929. This legislation provided the DOI authority to acquire Helium-rich lands and produce and transport Helium gas to industry in support of strategic national interests. Since 1996, the BLM Amarillo Field Office has administered the Federal Helium Program and is responsible for the conservation and sale of federally owned Helium. In 2018, the management of Cross Bar was transferred to the Oklahoma Field Office. The land and resources were managed in accordance with the 2000 Resource Management Plan Amendment until the signing of the new Record of Decision on March 2, 2020.
The BLM SRMA will be developed to allow for specifically identified and planned outdoor recreational uses: mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, hunting (firearms are not allowed), fishing, and camping. Currently, the Cross Bar SRMA is mostly used by bow hunters through a cooperative effort with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Additionally, several Special Recreation Permits (SRPs) have been issued to the public for mountain biking races and horseback trail riding events. The Cross Bar IS OPEN for outdoor recreation.
The Bureau of Land Management has invested $500,000.00 for a master plan to develop an amazing recreation area. 127 camping spots with two group camping areas, visitor center, store, and miles and miles of trails. Trail design and construction, along with master planning for facilities, considered the delicate balance of human interactions with the wild. Overall, trails and facilities designs maximize human use and enjoyment while conserving wildlife habitat.