Monday, February 7, 2011

State Budget and State Parks

It's no secret there is a budget crunch in Texas and the state is looking for ways to cut spending. Our state parks may be a target. A proposal is that the TPWD budget be cut by approximately 25%. That would just about gut the department, especially maintenance and improvement of our parks.

Texas doesn't have much public parkland as it is. Texas ranks 47th among the states for the percentage of land owned by the Federal or State government. Although we have a lot of open space, that space is privately owned. Overall, I think most state landowners do their best to protect and preserve their property, but the bottom line is, those lands are not open to the public and are not for the recreational use of the people of the state.

Texas was contemplating a sell off of some wonderful parks not that long ago. For those of us to whom public land is a vital legacy for the future--we need to be paying attention.

I believe the state budget needs to be balanced, but we also need to be balanced in how we approach the problem. I also know the state has many necessary and important needs to fund. We tend to look at parks as a "nice to have" instead of a "need to have" and we tend to think in the short term instead of taking a long view.

This is also an example of why we are working hard to set up a Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park group to help raise funds and do a lot of projects at the park that may not get done any other way. Don't forget the meeting on March 3, mentioned in the previous post. Lake Arrowhead is close to the city of Wichita Falls and for many residents is the only state park they are close enough to visit at little or no expense.

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