USA — Texas state parks need $4.6 million to cover budget gap
SAN ANTONIO –
After a year of record drought and wildfire, Texas state parks may be in trouble.
“In the last few years, we have seen continued escalation of visitor interest in use of our state parks. This year has been an exception, said Carter Smith, executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
It is a year that has seen visitation to state parks drop by 25 percent when compared to 2010. Mother Nature is likely the culprit, with devastating drought, wildfires and extreme temperatures driving park visitors away.
“As a consequence of that, we have seen our revenues decline to help support our state parks, said Smith.
Combined with state budget cuts, Texas state parks find themselves facing a challenging financial situation.
Smith, while speaking at San Antonios Government Canyon State Park on Tuesday, offered this plea to Texans: “We need everybody’s help.”
Smith said they would need $4.6 million to make up the gap in the budget. Texas Parks and Wildlife hope to do that through a push to increase visitation to Texas parks along with donations.
“Come Jan. 1, you’re going to be given an opportunity when you renew your vehicle registration by email, by mail, or in person to make a five dollar donation to Texas state parks, said Smith.
The move is expected to raise $1.6 million. Texas Parks and Wildlife also asked for donations through their website. No parks are expected to close for now, according to Smith, but it is a situation that could be reassessed next summer.
“What we do know is that these 4.6 million dollars needed is real and its urgent, and its timely,” said Smith.