AUSTIN - With the Texas House expected to approve a parks funding bill today, Environment Texas released a new report warning that many biologically important natural areas in Texas are threatened with development. The group used the report’s findings to call on the Legislature to appropriate at least $15 million per year to acquire threatened natural areas and protect them as state parks. Environment Texas also called on the Legislature not to eliminate park discounts for school, church and scout groups, as may be required in the current budget.
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.”
Exposure to dangerous toxic pollution from industrial facilities threatens communities in Texas and across the country, according to a new report released today by Environment Texas. A coalition of groups called on the Texas legislature and congress to take steps to protect the public’s right to know and to reduce emissions.
The report, Toxic Pollution and Health, uses information from the federal Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) to analyze toxic pollution linked to serious health problems such as cancer, birth defects or neurological damage. Due to a recent EPA action restricting the public’s right-to-know, today’s report may provide one of the last complete pictures of toxic pollution in Texas.
AUSTIN –A new analysis by Texas economist Dr. Ray Perryman finds that local parks in Texas contribute more than $5.5 billion to Texas’ economy and create more than 38,000 jobs. A coalition of parks directors and business and environmental leaders from across the state used the report’s conclusions to call on the Legislature to increase funding for parks by passing HB6 and SB252.
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. 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.
The movie can be viewed at www.EnvironmentTexas.org/center and at www.youtube.com.
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.