the future of state parks
$1 billion fund for future Texas state parks going on the ballot in November
A statewide proposition establishing a constitutional amendment to create a $1 billion fund for future state parks will be in the hands of Texas voters in November. The total value has been authorized by the state legislature.
About 10 million visitors flock to Texas State Parks every year, and the ever-expanding population means there is not enough supply of parks to meet the demand. The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund created by Proposition 14 would help the state acquire new parks from landowners without raising taxes on Texans, according to a release.
The measure has received bipartisan support from the Texas Legislature, and statewide polls have yielded overwhelming support for state parks within the last two decades. State Senator Tan Parker filed the Senate bill laying the groundwork for the conservation fund to make it on the ballot.
"The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund would provide dependable, long-term funding for new park acquisition that will protect the unique natural and cultural treasures of Texas, creating the opportunity to ensure our state parks thrive for generations to come," Senator Parker said.
According to Ballotpedia, funds would be "appropriated, credited, or transferred by the legislature; gifts, grants, and donations received by the Parks and Wildlife Department; and investment earnings." It would also not count against the state's appropriation limit.
State Representative Armando Walle, who sponsored the bill in the Texas House, also expressed his support for the bill. He called it a transformational, "Teddy Roosevelt kind of initiative."
Nearly 80 statewide organizations including the Bexar Audubon Society, Comal County Conservation Alliance, and Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas have come together in support of the measure through the Texas Coalition for State Parks. The coalition focuses on educating Texans about the benefits of developing the statewide park conservation fund.
If the proposition passes, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be able to use the funds to purchase land and unique properties for future state parks.
Joseph Fitzsimons, the coalition's co-founder and the former Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, shared his endorsement for Prop 14 in a statement.
"Open spaces are critical to our quality of life," said Fitzsimons. "The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund would help protect the places we love to hike, bike, fish, picnic, view wildlife, and spend time with family."
Voters will see Prop 14 on the ballot on November 7.
More information about the Texas Coalition for State Parks and its members can be found on growtexasparks.com.