AUSTIN, TX -Environment Texas released a short film today highlighting the funding crisis in the Texas state parks system. Narrated by two-time Oscar nominee and Texas native Ethan Hawke, the film reveals a magnificent parks system beleaguered by lay-offs, dilapidated infrastructure, and proposals to sell or close as many as 18 parks. Hawke joined Environment Texas in calling on the Legislature to approve House Bill 6, which would increase funding for state and local parks by more than $90 million.
“I was born in Texas and some of my best childhood memories are of camping in Texas parks with my dad, where he taught me all about the outdoors and showed me some of Texas’ most amazing natural areas,” said Ethan Hawke. “It’s appalling that the Texas Legislature has let the parks go without even the minimal support needed to maintain them.”
Hawke was born in Austin and grew up around Fort Worth, where his father took him camping and shooting at Eagle Mountain Lake. His grandfather Howard L. Green served in the Texas House of Representatives for ten years and was Tarrant County judge for another eight years. Environment Texas is a statewide citizens’ advocacy organization based in Austin and is working to get the Texas Legislature to create sustainable and substantial funding for the Texas parks system.
“With the right commitment from our politicians, Texas could have the world-class park system that we deserve. We owe it to our children, our neighbors and ourselves to preserve these vital parts of Texas history and keep just a little bit of Texas wild,” said Hawke.
From the desert wilderness of Big Bend Ranch State Park, to the bayous and live oaks of Brazos Bend State Park, the Texas state parks are home to some of the most breathtaking views in America. The parks also help protect drinking water supplies, wildlife habitats, and provide countless recreational opportunities.
While the overall state budget increased by 68 percent between 1990 and 2003, the Legislature slashed spending on state parks by 34 percent. Today, Texas is ranked 49th in the nation for spending on state parks. The cuts have forced the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to lay off dozens of park rangers, close campgrounds, cancel plans to acquire environmentally sensitive lands and provide grants to local parks. In 2005, the agency even considered selling part of Big Bend Ranch State Park to raise additional funds. TPWD has announced that a new round of proposed cuts would mean the agency would have to close 18 state parks.