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After devastating budget cuts in 2011, this spring, the Legislature restored funding for state and local parks. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had warned that 20 state parks would have to close without additional funds. But after a public outcry—including thousands of petition signatures from Environment Texas members—the Legislature boosted funding by $62 million. That's enough to keep all our state parks open, make critical repairs, replant trees destroyed by wildfire at Bastrop State Park, and to give grants to cities to build new parks, ball fields and playgrounds.
Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Texas’ rivers, forest area, and wildlife, said the TWDB held a two-month comment period that ended with an April 29 hearing in Arlington, where there was overwhelming opposition to the project.
“There is really strong bipartisan opposition coming from Tea Party Republicans, the timber industry, local landowners, and the general public,” he said.
He estimated that “99.5 percent of the comments were opposed to the project.”
"The reason it hadn’t been largely developed before is because it’s a really special area, the gateway to the Hill Country and it overlies the Edwards aquifer, the drinking supply for over a million Central Texans," Luke Metzger with Environment Texas said. "There’s increasing development pressure over Southwest Austin and the Hill Country. That can come with significant impact to the water aquifer."
"We, of course, are in a record drought. We need to keep every drop of water we have and keep it clean, and the more that we’re developing over an important water source, that puts the water supply at risk," Metzger said.
As TWDB develops the rules and priorities for use of the new water funds, it's critical that they pursue a balanced solution that improves the efficiency of water use and leaves more water in our rivers and aquifers to support the ecosystems that depend on water.