Even though Governor Perry, Speaker Craddick, 126 House members and 23 Senators have voiced their support for full funding for our parks, current budget legislation is no more than a band aid that will not stop the bleeding.
Neither the House nor Senate appropriation bills approach levels of funding necessary to return our parks to a state of grace and greatness. There are glaring deficiencies in operating expenses, minor repairs, land acquisition and development, and local parks grants. Without substantial increases in these areas, parks will continue to wallow in a state of disrepair.
It is not enough for elected officials to pay lip service to the rehabilitation of our Texas parks which has served our citizens, local communities and the state so well for so long. There must be a genuine commitment to put our money where their mouths have been. Call or write your elected officials. Let them know that parks are not only good for the pocketbook, they are good for the body and soul. Remind them that "band aid" is not synonymous with excellence.
George L. Bristol is the founder and president/executive director of the Texas Coalition for Conservation. Mr. Bristol has more than 37 years experience in business and politics as a successful businessman, political organizer, fundraiser and lobbyist for a range of conservation-related organizations. His experience includes a six-year appointment to the National Parks Foundation Board of Directors by President Bill Clinton and Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt. He was named to the Texas Conservation Foundation by Governor Mark White in 1984 and chaired the Foundation until 1988. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Glacier National Park Fund and is Vice-Chairman of the Texas State Park Advisory Committee.