For a decade, funding for Texas' parks has been stagnant, while population and costs increased. The results are many of our treasured public parks have degenerated to somewhere between shoddy and disgraceful. This goes against the will of Texans who have demonstrated at the ballot box and in opinion polls that they are willing to pay for more and better parks.
In 2005 this perfect storm of neglect and cost collided. Our parks ran out of money to operate fully.
The good news is it woke Texans up to the plight of our parks. Because of that hue and cry, a State Parks Advisory Committee was appointed to address the problems. That distinguished group met the challenge head-on; recommending increases in park funding of $85 million annually for 10 years! They did so within the revenue estimate of the "Sporting Goods Tax" which generates more than $112 million annually to support parks.
Those recommendations received near-universal approval. It is now time for the Texas legislators to honor their campaign promises to fix the problems.
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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.