Wild places across Texas are at being threated by pollution, development and dramatic funding cuts. Environment Texas is urging state leaders to preserve our lands from abuse and fight for our state’s natural beauty.
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.
- Texas has received approximately $478 million in funds from the LWCF over the past four decades to protect important places around the state.
- The Neches River ecosystem has been called “one of the last intact ecosystems of the South.”
- The legislature cut approximately $150 million from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department funding this biennium.
- Rural communities with state parks have 14% higher per capita retail sales than rural communities without state parks.