House Bill Passes Allowing More Money To Go To State Parks

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Environmentalists have being lobbying for months for members of the Texas legislature to increase funding for state parks.

Brazos Environmental Action Network member, Hugh Stearns said compared to other states, Texas ranks second from the bottom.

"Funding has been cut in recent years in fact, Texas is 49th of all the states in per capita sending on state parks," Stearns said.

As a result, Stearn said the overall conditions of parks are suffering. That was the main reason why environmental groups demonstrated outside a local legislator's office in March, to ask for more money.

"We need funding not only to maintain our parks, but we need to actually go in and reinvigorate our parks," Stearns said.

Since 1993, Texas parks have received funding from revenue generated by taxes on sporting good purchases. Many believe all of the money collected was earmarked for Texas parks.

However, the legislature only set side a portion of that money to fund parks, limiting it to only $32 million a year. During 2006, parks received $20 million and Stearns that is not enough to keep our parks going.

District 14 State Representative Fred Brown agrees.

"They've been so under funded for so long that it's just basic maintenance has been allowed, the parks are deteriorating, and structures are crumbling," Brown said.

Browns says with the House's approval of House Bill 12 on Thursday, the $32 million budget cap is removed. Now Texas parks could be allocated anywhere from $ 78 to $100 millions yearly.

Stearns says he would like to see that happen for the sake of all Texas families.

"In our parks we have an ability to really control that environment and make sure we've preserving for our children," Stearns said.

The bill has now been sent to the Texas Senate for consideration.