Environment Texas Launches "State Parks Express" RV to Call on Legislature to Fully Fund Texas Parks
AUSTIN- Today, Environment Texas launched a 1250 mile road trip of their “State Parks Express” RV to draw attention to the Legislature’s continuing failure to give adequate funding to Texas’ state and local parks. The RV, which will travel to Midland, Lubbock, Amarillo, Waco and College Station, will stop outside the office of the local legislator and invite local citizens to come out for a “weenie roast for the parks.”
“The Legislature is willfully letting our state parks go without even the minimal support needed to properly maintain them and far less than what is needed to plan for the future,’” said Christian Alexander, Field Associate with Environment Texas. “We can and must do better than this.”
Environment Texas noted that thus far the 2008-2009 appropriations bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee does not include the full funding – an additional $170 million for the biennium - for state and local parks identified as needed by a State Parks Advisory Committee in a report issued last August. Only $46.5 million additional money is provided for state and local parks in Article 6 of the base appropriations bill reported out by the Committee, and $9.6 million of that comes from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake Stare Park by Parks and Wildlife Department – money that was supposed to go toward buying more parkland but has now been earmarked for major repairs at existing parks. Article 11 of the House appropriations bill – sometimes referred to as the “wish list” – includes contingency “riders” that would increase funding for state and local parks by an additional $94 million for the biennium. However, actual appropriation of this additional funding would rely on last-minute actions by a closed door conference committee (which will likely be made up of the legislators to be visited by the State Parks Express).
In each city, the group is running radio ads inviting local citizens to come to their legislator's office for a "weenie roast for the parks". At the events, Environment Texas will screen a short film about the parks crisis narrated by Texas native and two-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke.
“Speaker Craddick usually gets what he wants, so we were ecstatic several weeks ago when he came out publicly in support of full funding for our parks. However, the House version of the state budget, which he has enormous influence over, only appropriates less than a quarter of the funds he promised,” said Alexander.
Representative Isett chairs the appropriations subcommittee that handles park funding.
“Representative Chisum chairs the House Appropriations Committee and has said that no money should be appropriated this session to create new state parks or existing state parks. That’s remarkably short-sighted and Amarillo will suffer for it. That’s because Palo Duro Canyon State Park is one of the parks slated for expansion, if the Legislature ponies up the money,” said Alexander.
Senator Averitt chairs the senate finance subcommittee that handles parks funding and is a co-sponsor of SB 252, which would authorizes full funding.
Senator Ogden chairs the Senate Finance committee and is one of only 8 Senators not co-sponsoring SB 252.
Environment Texas is a statewide, non-profit, citizens’ advocacy group based in Austin. Learn more at www.EnvironmentTexas.org