Finally, I’m tellin’ ya — finally! — I get to offer unabashed enthusiastic praise for a Texas legislative policy decision without qualifying it in any fashion.
The Texas House has given final approval for a $1 billion investment in the state park system, seeking to add more parks to the state’s already impressive network of public recreational sites.
It’s not entirely done deal just yet. The Texas Senate has approved it already. It heads for Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature. Then it comes to us — you and me — for a final vote this November as an amendment to the Texas Constitution.
I am going to vote enthusiastically for the measure.
“This would create a new golden age for our state parks,” said Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas. “We have a lot to celebrate. What a great birthday present to give all Texans for the state parks system’s 100th.”
Indeed, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is celebrating the centennial of the state park system.
The Texas Tribune reported: According to a report by Environment Texas last year, Texas lags behind most others states in state parkland: The state ranks 35th in the nation for state park acreage per capita, with about 636,000 acres of parkland for a population of over 29 million as of 2019. The report suggests that Texas needs to add 1.4 million acres of state parks by 2030 to meet the needs of its residents.
The Trib also noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state park system became even more popular with Texans, who faced interstate and international travel restrictions.
So … they packed up their gear and headed for our state parks.
My late wife and I were among those Texans who have embraced all that the park system has to offer. By my unofficial count, we visited roughly two-thirds of the state parks during the years we were hauling recreational vehicles behind our pickup.
I am distressed to learn, of course, that the state has lagged behind other states in dedicating resources to state parks. I hope that can change with this investment.
I just want to offer a heartfelt “bravo!” to both legislative chambers for the decision they have made to set aside more land for development into state parks.
We need them … and Texans will use them.