History of the General Lands Office can be traced to the year 1836 which was the climax for Texas congress activities. In this year, the elected representatives sought to create a lands body that was to manage lands for public interests. At its inception, the General Lands Office was tasked to perform three major duties of collecting and keeping vital land statistics, availing land maps and surveys to all interested parties, and lastly, issuing title deeds to genuine holders. On top of the three major functions, the General Lands Office was also responsible for sourcing funds to finance the robust Texas revolution and any other necessary expenses geared towards economic revolution (Texas General Land Office 2).
It is to be recognized that Texas’ General Lands Office was different from almost all other lands offices in other states. This stemmed from the fact that the State maintained ownership of all its lands when it formally became a part of the union. Texas also maintained ownership of several other land-related assets such as submerged lands or tidelands. Such ownership, therefore, meant that the LoneStarState as was described had enormous resources to make it prosper economically (Texas General Land Office 2).
Just like many agencies in America and other parts of the world, the Texas’ General Lands Office experienced several modifications in terms of its scope and responsibilities. For instance, in the year 1876, Texas congress tasked the agency with the responsibility of providing school funds to students through the ambitious Permanent School Fund (PSF) program. Other responsibilities that evolved over the years included provision of lands to the poor and impoverished veterans, controlling and managing operations in the oil fields, controlling of open beaches under the open beaches act (OBA) of 1959, and environmental management of all public resources. It is, therefore, evident that Texas’ General Lands Office agency has been in continuous modifications to make it relevant to the changing needs of the people of Texas.
The top of the individuals serving the agency is the commissioner Jerry Patterson who has been at the helm of the agency since 2003. He is described as one of the few resounding commissioners who have served in the agency, bringing wealth of expertise and experience from different fields. Prior to joining the agency, Jerry Patterson served in the military in the Vietnam War of 1972 when he volunteered himself during the last six months of the war. In the year 1992, Patterson served as the Texas senator for the District 11 when he triumphed over his competitors to clinch the seat. His tenure as the senator saw him make tremendous achievements in many legislative issues. For instance, his constitutional amendment saw the introductions of home equity lending in Texas, introduction of coastal management plan, and the establishment of the Veterans Home Program (Texas General Land Office, 2).
Patterson’s work at the agency can be described as remarkable. He has instituted several projects that have turned the face of the agency for the better. Some of his achievements include the save history of Texas program which he initiated in 2004 upon his election into the office. Through the program, TexasState has been able to conserve approximately 35.5 million documents and eighty thousand maps which were already housed in the Lands Office by 2004. The focal point of his achievement is seen in the GLO program which has witnessed robust deposits into Permanent School Fund (PSF) than any other period of agency’s life. Such robust deposit has been possible through Patterson’s emphasis on renewable energy which has proved to be more beneficial than was expected at its inception. Besides his work in the energy sector, he has been able to diversify the rather tedious real estate transactions of the GLO program (Texas General Land Office, 1).
The General Land Office is central to the overall development of Texas. It achieves this noble duty by ensuring that it provides noble services to its consumers who are the citizens of TexasState. The agency has set up various boards and commissions that are tasked with the overall responsibility of satisfying consumers’ demands at all costs. Some of the commissions and boards set up to meet consumer demands include School Land Board, Veterans Land Board, Coastal Coordination Council, Boards for Lease, and Coastal Land Advisory Board among others. The school land board, for instance, is at the centre of operations of permanent school funds (PSF). The School Land Board oversees everyday management of state lands designated for school funds. It is tasked with ensuring that maximum funds are realized for the PSF program.
Veterans’ Lands Board on the other hand ensures that land needs for the impoverished veterans are met. This is achieved by facilitating the availability of long-term loans with low interest rates to the poor veterans to enable them acquire lands at reasonable prices. Boards for lease which are also integral in the agency meet consumer demands by overseeing leasing of all lands to various stakeholders. Such lands include those under wild life department, criminal justice department, coastal management department among others. In synopsis, the agency boards and commissions are at the helm of ensuring that the service provided to the consumers is of high quality standards and relevant.
In my own opinion, the General Lands Agency has done well in its mandate. But certain changes should be made to broaden the scope of the agency to tackle issues related to climate change, especially the global warming. Climate change is an issue that is real and if not properly dealt with as early as this, then Texas will not escape the wraths associated with the phenomena.