Protecting Texas' natural heritage

Our state parks, wildlife refuges, forests and other public lands help keep natural resources safe and give us a place to simply enjoy Texas’ environment.

As Texas continues its dramatic growth, our natural areas are facing significant stress, jeopardizing Texas’ growing recreation and eco-tourism based industries and threatening the beauty, character and rural heritage of the Lone Star State. On average, 20 acres of open space are destroyed in Texas every hour to make way for new strip malls and subdivisions. Chronic under-funding of parks protection and open space acquisition have led park facilities to deteriorate and opened the doors to developers to pave over ecologically-important areas. Clearly, Texas has been remiss in its stewardship of our natural heritage.

Fighting for state park funding

Our parks are an easily accessible natural respite from the more developed world. They provide a way for us all to escape city life and enjoy swimming, kayaking, camping, hiking and help protect a number of important natural resources and wildlife species.

Texas state parks also contribute significantly to the state's tourism and travel industries. Here's the proof: According to the state Comptroller's office, out-of-state visitors to our parks spent $283 million in the local community in 2008. And a study by the Texas Coalition for Conservation found Texans spend upward of $1 billion every year when they visit the state parks.

In the last two years, the 82nd Legislature cut 21.5% of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) funding. Approximately 111 employees were laid off, leaving 23 parks with fewer staff.

Stand with us as we work to turn this around and save Texas state parks.

See here for more information on state park funding.

Keeping our refuges safe

In 2006, the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge was designated to create a protected ecosystem for Texas' last wild river. The refuge provides nesting habitats for migratory birds and gives bottomland hardwood forests and swamps a place to flourish—improving water quality and helping prevent flooding.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has set a goal of acquiring and protecting all 25,281 acres of land within the refuge acquisition boundary. Funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund is critical to maintain the lands of the Neches River ecosystem and acquire more lands within the refuge boundary. However, due to inconsistent funding by Congress, the Refuge has not received the funding necessary to protect it from inappropriate development.

Our leaders in Washington should also act to permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

See here for our blog on funding for the Neches River Wildlife Refuge

Protesting a destructive launchpad project

When we designate land as a refuge, we promise to keep it preserved and protected from careless and destructive pollution and development. However, a recent project launched by the California company SpaceX will do nothing to preserve or protect. 

SpaceX wants to build a launch pad operation on 49 acres of land that is almost completely surrounded by Boca Chica State Park and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Launching spacecrafts here simply can’t happen. Potential contamination from noxious chemicals, noise pollution, and development would significantly affect the precious wilderness that is home to sea turtles, falcons and ocelots. 

Environment Texas has launched a petition to stop this threat dead in its tracks. Stand with us to help prevent SpaceX from building this destructive project.

Issue updates

Blog Post

National Park Service Centennial and Conservation Opportunities Ahead | Luke Metzger

Next Thursday, August 25, marks the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service. As we celebrate, we need to make sure our parks are even more vibrant and protected 100 years from now. What author Wallace Stegner called “America’s best idea,” was simple, but unprecedented anywhere in the world: treasured landscapes should be preserved and protected from private interests for all the public to enjoy, in the form of national parks.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Statement of Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger on Today's Vote by The Texas Water Development Board on the Marvin Nichols Reservoir

The Texas Water Development Board voted 3-0 to keep the environmentally destructive Marvin Nichols Reservoir in the Region C water plan.

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Southwest Austin Growth Sparks Environmental Concerns

"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.

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Blog Post

Water Development Board Orders Study of Environmental Impacts of Marvin Nichols Reservoir | Luke Metzger

In a blow to proponents of the controversial Marvin Nichols reservoir, this morning the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) voted 2-1 to direct the DFW regional water group to do a quantitative analysis of the impacts to agriculture and natural resources if the reservoir was built. TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein said that the Region C water group had failed to include such an analysis in their regional plan and that it now must do so by Nov. 3. TWDB has been ordered by a state court to resolve a conflict in the State Water Plan that includes the reservoir in the Region C plan, but explicit opposition to Marvin Nichols in the Region D (where it would be built) plan. TWDB Director Jackson joined with Rubinstein in the voted, with Director Bruun voting no. Bruun said he supported keeping the reservoir in the plan. 

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South Texas economic hopes hitched to SpaceX

Noise pollution and contamination from the chemicals sprayed during rocket launches are among the issues to consider, Metzger said. Ocelots, a threatened leopard species, face the greatest risks, he said. The animals are already vulnerable to being run over by cars, and the heavy traffic of site construction would pose an even greater threat to the spotted felines.

“An area surrounded by state parks is not appropriate for industrial activity,” Metzger said. “When Texas has such little public land — less than 5 percent is publicly protected as state parks — we need to be taking the best care of the parks we do have.”

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