Civic Group Tries to Rescue Texas State Parks
Today's video is courtesy of KXAN-TV, Austin, Texas.
As legislators debate the new state budget, a local organization is now fighting to save Texas state parks, currently at least seven state parks are on the chopping block and could be forced to close by next year, KXAN-TV, Austin, reported.
Before the legislative session began, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department requested that legislators approve $18.9 million in funding from the sporting goods sales tax to keep all parks operating.
But the preliminary budgets from the House and Senate only approved an additional $6.9 million for the 2014-2015 biennium year.
The current budget doesn't specify which parks would potentially have to close.
Ian Davis, the director of Keep Texas Parks Open, is now fighting to get funding for the parks.
"This is a really important campaign for me personally," said Davis. "The current budget proposal says we can potentially go from 91 to 84 state parks; we think it may even be more than seven."
His organization is now holding town hall meetings across the state and informing people to help keep state parks open.
In 1993, officials came up with a sporting goods tax to help fund state parks but currently only 25 percent of that money actually helps pay for parks.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says although there is uncertainty at the moment, it's still early in the legislative process and too soon to tell whether the parks will actually have to close.
"Although its been identified that 84 parks could be funded in this current version of the bill, that's yet to be determined, it's still pretty early," said Brent Leisure, the director of the State Parks Division.
Officials say the budget could change as lawmakers debate the budget over the coming months. For Davis, his mission still lives on as he spreads the word to make sure Texas parks are saved.
"We just think that this is unfortunate especially in budget surplus," said Davis. "Let's fund our parks and let's invest in Texas.