Parks make life better here in Texas

From camping under the stars at Big Bend Ranch to exploring the cypress swamps of Caddo Lake, our state parks make life better here in Texas. They protect the clean water we depend on and provide a home for some of Texas’ most wondrous wildlife, like the black bear and the leatherback sea turtle.

At least 20 parks may close

But our parks are in trouble. Due to budget cuts, at least 20 state parks may close this year and state grants for local parks and playgrounds have been eliminated.

After more than 96 percent of its majestic pines were lost to wildfires, Bastrop State Park desperately needs funds to restore the park to its former beauty. Many parks, like Devils Sinkhole, had to reduce operations to just a few days a week, repairs to critical infrastructure like wastewater systems have been put off, and state grants to local parks were eliminated. Operations at the Parrie Haynes Youth Ranch—a 4,525-acre park on the Lampasas River with miles of horseback riding trails and ropes courses—ended. 

We have the money to save them

We can do more to keep our parks safe and open. In fact, our parks already have a dedicated funding stream—sales taxes on sporting goods—but for too long, the Legislature has raided the fund, diverting the money for other purposes and leaving just the bones for our cash-strapped parks system.

That’s why Environment Texas is calling on our lawmakers and local elected officials to stop pillaging this fund and give our parks the money and protection they deserve and need to stay open.

Together, we can save our parks

Our staff has been knocking on doors across the state to educate Texans about what’s at stake. We’re also testifying in the Legislature, building a coalition of environmental groups and recreation businesses, and shining the spotlight in the media on the need to protect our state parks. But the real key to winning the fight is you. With your support, we can force the Legislature to keep our parks open. If enough of us speak out, we can save Texas parks.

Preservation Updates

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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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Headline

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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Headline

Marvin Nichols Reservoir Plan Gets a Boost

The group Environment Texas also immediately criticized the decision. "This is the water board's first big test since voters entrusted them with billions in new water spending and they are blowing it," the group's director, Luke Metzger, said in a statement. "This project is wasteful, it would destroy a river and pristine forestland, and it has no place in our state's water future." Other environmentalists also believe that the Dallas-Fort Worth region is focusing too much on expensive water projects, rather than conservation measures. 

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Headline

New lake to supply Dallas-Fort Worth moves forward, but environmental opposition looms

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, supported legislation to create the $2 billion water fund, but he opposes Marvin Nichols. He worries the state is overlooking conservation and less invasive alternatives.

“This is a major decision; it’s very controversial,” Metzger said. “For the water board to side with wasteful water use and business-as-usual water strategies, against the opportunity to spend these dollars in a much more cost-effective, environmentally friendly way, is very troubling.”

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