Last month, Tom DuBois was one of over 50 people who traveled to Austin to support HB 1876 and HB 1889. Throughout the day, we were able to learn about the history of several pieces of property targeted by the Dallas Houston HSR proposed routes. We visited again with Mr. DuBois and his wife, Debbie, at their home in Leon County where they operate a purebred and commercial cow/calf operation.
When asked about the family legacy of his land, Tom said:
I’ve had family members on both my father’s and mother’s side residing in Leon County since the mid 1800’s. My grandfather, Norman G. DuBois, first purchased part of this place on January 8, 1898, and continued adding to it until 1927. Following the storm of 1900 in Galveston, my grandmother rode a wagon train with her family to Leon County, and her father passed away on the trail along the way. After marrying in the early 1900’s, my grandparents were farmers, raising four children, corn and cotton and selling cord wood to pay for the land. My grandfather never owned an automobile, and all he and my grandmother knew was hard work. My father and mother had to leave the farm during the depression, as the place could not provide a living for both my grandparents and parents during that time.
Our home place is currently owned by myself, and my wife, Debbie. Our three daughters were the fifth generation to grow up and live here. Our daughters are devoted to this land, and my wife and I will do whatever it takes to protect it and our way of life. I hope you can see just how important the piece of land is to our family and their future.
How will your cow/calf operation be impacted if the high-speed rail comes through your property?
We currently run our operation on a little over 500 acres. This includes owned and leased agreement properties. We have to move our cattle from time to time when water or grass is limited in a certain area. We rely on access to existing county and private roads to minimize the distance we must travel with the livestock on the highway. If some roads in the county are closed or access is limited, this will have a huge burden on us. Even with occasional access culverts, the time, the money and the distance we could travel adds to the cost of operation.
The same applies when we have to move equipment to the hay fields to bale and transport the hay to the winter feeding areas. Not to mention if this train right of way crosses any of our operation property splitting the land in half. Now I would possibly not have water on that side of the pasture. Access culverts do not address how the high earthen berms would block water runoff that we rely on to feed our ponds for watering our cattle.
How have the proposed HSR routes already impacted your property? And do you have other concerns?
We already see the property values moving downward, and properties currently on the market are creating little interest because of this HSR threat. Having an abundance of deer on our properties, deer hunting is a huge revenue source for many ranchers. What will the noise and vibration do to these herds of deer? And will there be deer hunting restrictions that would come with this train concerning the use of high powered rifles in and around the track? Also, who has the liability if livestock or wild game (deer or hogs) do get on the train right of way? Wild game do go through the best of fences.
We Must Stop This Train.