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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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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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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Area State Representative Backing Away From Fight Against Plastic Bag Ordinances

Rachel Stone, an attorney at the Austin-based Environment Texas, said the organization is thrilled the Alamo City is considering the ban. “Environment Texas applauds Councilman Medina for taking leadership on these important issues,” Stone said in a statement. “San Antonio made a commitment to take strides towards a more sustainable future, and it is exciting to see the city forging ahead on that path.”

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, said he is glad Springer is giving up the bag ban fight. “I think it’s great,” Metzger said. “We think cities should have the right to decide what is best for them, and plastic bags have become a major problem … they are polluting our rivers, creating blight in neighborhoods and it costs the taxpayers to keep their communities clean.”

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After Proposition 6 what comes next?

While Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to create a new fund for the development of water projects, don't expect to see an explosion of construction for quite some time.

First, state and regional water planners need to work out the details of how they will rank the proposed ventures and to finalize other rules. Financial assistance is not expected to start until March 2015.

Proposition 6, which voters supported Nov. 5 by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, creates a revolving loan account using $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund. The money, which could be leveraged to provide $27 billion in assistance over the next 50 years, will help pay for infrastructure and conservation initiatives to bolster the drought-ridden state's water supplies.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, said his organization will be lobbying the regional water planning groups to prioritize conservation projects in their areas and the state board to consider the environmental impact of proposed projects in its rankings.

“Conservation, if we do it first, helps us avoid hugely expensive projects that we might not need down the road,” Metzger said.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Texas voters approve $172 million in parks and recreation bonds

AUSTIN – Voters in 10 Texas cities and counties on Tuesday approved a total of $172 million in bonds to support local parks and recreation facilities, according to an analysis by Environment Texas. The group pointed to the elections as evidence of strong public support for parks funding and called on the state of Texas to do more to help local and state parks.

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