Legislature funds program to get underserved communities outdoors

$40 million from coronavirus relief bill will fund Texas Parks and Wildlife grant program

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Seth Billingsley
Conservation Associate, Environment Texas

Author: Seth Billingsley

Conservation Associate, Environment Texas

Started on staff: 2021
B.A. and B.B.A., cum laude, John Brown University

Seth manages conservation-related campaigns in Texas focusing on land preservation, increasing parkland, and protecting threatened habitats. Seth lives in Austin and spends a number of his weekends rehabilitating injured and orphaned birds of prey.

The Texas Legislature wrapped up its third special session last week, and we got some unexpected good news. Thanks to the work of state Rep. Yvonne Davis, the Legislature allocated $40 million to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) as part of SB 8 (the coronavirus relief bill)! This will fund grants to non-profits working to bring under-served populations into the Great Outdoors. 

People need nature. Whether the thrill of climbing higher than ever before or the soothing sounds of running water or wind through the trees as you walk through the woods, people get something out of the great outdoors that we don’t get from our smartphones or from walking down city streets. Many of those experiences can be found in our public lands, but not everyone has the same access to recreation opportunities and these funds will get more Texans outdoors.

The TPWD Community Outdoor Outreach Program (Co-op) grant "provides funding to tax-exempt organizations for programming that engages under-served populations in TPWD mission-oriented outdoor recreation, conservation and environmental education activities."

In March, TPWD gave out $290,000 in grants, including:

  • $30,000 to The Woods Project to offer "low-income Houston-area students access to outdoor spaces and recreation activities through their after-school club programs and weekend camping excursions,"
  • $30,000 to the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation to enrich "the lives of individuals living with disabilities by eliminating barriers that exist for outdoor recreational sports. Participants engage in activities that were once thought of as impossible, such as hunting, archery, cycling and kayaking, to enhance their physical and mental health" and
  • $29,994 to Casa de la Cultura in Del Rio to engage "minority women and youth in outdoor recreation events at Devils River SNA, Kickapoo Cavern and Seminole Canyon State Parks."

The Legislature had previously appropriated almost $6 million to TPWD for the biennium for this program. Now they'll have an additional $40 million. I'm so excited to think about all the great programs which can now be funded to provide all Texans access to the outdoors.

Seth Billingsley
Conservation Associate, Environment Texas

Author: Seth Billingsley

Conservation Associate, Environment Texas

Started on staff: 2021
B.A. and B.B.A., cum laude, John Brown University

Seth manages conservation-related campaigns in Texas focusing on land preservation, increasing parkland, and protecting threatened habitats. Seth lives in Austin and spends a number of his weekends rehabilitating injured and orphaned birds of prey.