Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

How the Drought is Hurting Parks and Wildlife Funding

Earl Nottingham/Texas Parks & Wildlife

The carcass of a cow that became mired in the mud in a dry stock tank in Knox County, Texas during the summer drought

At a hearing this week on funding for Texas state parks, several people voiced concern that as drought and extreme temperatures continue, funding will evaporate for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Erika Aguilar of KUT News, StateImpact Texas’ local radio partner, has more:

“If we are going to keep these special treasures for all Texans to use and enjoy, we need to raise $4.6 million,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith told lawmakers this week. Last month, the agency launched a public fundraising campaign to fill a significant department deficit.

“The consequences of us not being able to realize those revenue targets are real,” Smith said. “They’re tangible. And we absolutely may be looking, particularly at 2013, at further cut backs and that could include things as drastic as closures and looking at transfers again.”

In December, the Parks and Wildlife Department asked for millions of dollars in donations to offset the loss of visitors due to the extreme drought and excessive heat of last summer. Since then, they’ve raised more than $460,000 from donations, some of which have come from a new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles opt-in donation program, and an additional $500,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. That still leaves a funding gap of approximately $3.5 million.

Read more on this story at KUT News.


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