With so many people wishing for a place to get away from the pressures of job, traffic, and pollution, it troubles me to see all the problems our state parks seem to be having. Just last week I read in the Fort Worth fish-wrapper that Texas Parks and Wildlife could perhaps have to close 20 parks because of inadequate funding. What a travesty during a time of even greater need for such public facilities.
Funding to support operation of Texas’ state lands was supposedly secured in 1993 when the Legislature passed a law allocating a portion of the sales tax proceeds on sporting goods to state parks. This should have solved all problems, but the Austin budget gurus were allowed final say on how these tax dollars would be divided. Not only that, in 1995 the Legislature put a spending cap for TP&W at $32 million per year. This cap was raised appreciably in 2007 but, sadly, a pittance of the sporting goods tax is ever actually allocated to the parks.
Texas has a wonderful state park system and we should demand that it be funded properly. Suffering from neglect, budget cuts, and destruction by recent wildfires, our state parks need help to provide for recreation needs of current and future generations. A little more spending on parks might result in a lot less spending on Prozac.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to email@example.com.