|The Origins of United States Parkland|
Public Lands in Texas
Where is that Wide Open Space Called Texas?
|Who Uses Parks|
Public/Private Conservation Activities
"Wise Use" Movement
|Senate Bill 179: Too Little to Serve too Many|
Conservation/Preservation: What's the Difference?
Beach Access and Beach Debris
Dune Loss and Protection
Gulf Shoreline Loss
International Law and Ocean Trash: What Goes Around, Comes Around
|Texas Rivers and Public Access|
The National Forests Movement
Multiple Use of National Forests in Texas
Recreational Use in National Forests
Timber Production and Texas Forests
National Forest Protection
Forest Land Aquisition
Almanac Table of Contents | Chapter Three Table of Contents | TEC Home Page
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In the United States by the mid 1800s the impact of the exploitation of nature by a growing population had sent up cries of alarm. The documented decline of distinct bird and other wildlife species forced the creation of hunting regulations. The dramatic loss of forests in the Midwest and redwood clearings in California became a call to action. In 1864, a group of California citizens pressed Congress to grant Yosemite Valley to the State of California, which would act as a trustee for the federal government. Thus began the national park movement in the United States. The next park to be created by Congress was Yellowstone in 1872. Because no state existed in that region, it was put directly under federal protection.(1) Naturalists of the 19th century recognized that entire bio-regions in North America were being devastated, and patches of parkland could not make up for that loss. But in the face of a laissez-faire economy, in which natural resources were regarded as commodities to be used, an effort was made to protect only a few of these ecosystems through public ownership.
Even though naturalist writers such as John Muir had helped create support for public ownership of these lands, nineteenth century Congressional leaders were reluctant to designate national parks. According to conservation historian John Petulla, the railroad companies, who wanted to bring train travelers through scenic territory, were the most influential lobbying force for the national park movement. Even so, at that time Congress would not establish a national park unless it was demonstrated that the area could not be exploited for commercial purposes.(2)
Nineteenth century political leaders in Texas sold off state lands as rapidly as possible to encourage settlement and economic development. By the turn of the century, most of the state's 266,807 square miles were privately owned.(3)
The 1991-1992 Green Index ranked Texas 37th in the nation with 0.20 percent of its budget spent for parks.(4) The National Association of State Park Directors ranked Texas 28th with 0.3 percent of state land area in parkland.
Significant Parkland Legislation in Texas
State Parks: Large areas of outstanding natural or scenic value; allowable uses include camping, hiking, picnicking and public hunting if designated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
State Recreational Areas: Areas of natural or scenic character, selectively developed to provide resource-oriented recreational opportunities.(5)
State Natural Areas: Areas established for the protection and stewardship of outstanding features of statewide significance, which may be used in a sustainable manner for scientific research, education, aesthetic enjoyment, and appropriate public use as sound biological management permits.(6)
Historical Areas: Areas established for the preservation, and interpretation of prehistoric and historic resources of statewide or national significance. Historic areas shall provide for resource oriented recreation or public uses that are not detrimental to the long term preservation of the cultural and natural resources.(7)
State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA): Areas primarily devoted to preservation of the state's wildlife resources. WMA are acquired for multiple uses, however, including demonstration areas for wildlife management, public hunting and fishing and other outdoor recreational activities.
State and Federal Forests: Federal and state forests are set aside for multiple uses, including timber harvesting, mining, cattle-raising and wildlife habitat and recreational activities.
Federal Wilderness Areas: Lands designated for special protection by the U.S. Congress. They must meet certain minimum size requirements and can be used for wildlife protection, recreational, conservation, scenic or scientific purposes.
Federal Wildlife Refuges: Areas intended for protection of wildlife and their habitat. They are usually open to the public for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
Federal Grasslands: Approximately 38,000 acres of national grasslands are located in Montague, Wise and Fannin Counties. These grasslands are set aside for multiple purposes, including recreational opportunities, forage for grazing and oil or gas production.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was appropriated $139.2 million by the Texas Legislature for fiscal year 1994. Over 70 percent of these appropriated funds are directly generated by users through licenses, park fees and magazine subscriptions and indirectly through excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment that return to the Department through federal aid programs.(8)
State and federal funding going to the department for parks has been on the decline over the last fifteen years. Undedicated general tax revenues, which had been used to subsidize park operations, dropped from $30 million per biennium several years ago to $0 for the 94-95 biennium.(9) State and local parks also have been supported by a state cigarette tax - 2 cents per pack sold - and federal revenues from oil and gas royalties from the outer continental shelf. Because fewer people are smoking, there has been a decline in cigarette taxes. There has also been a major decline in revenues from oil and gas royalties. In light of this, the TPWD asked the Legislature to replace the cigarette tax as a source of revenue with sporting goods sales taxes. This new tax went into effect in September 1994 . But this "swap" does not provide the Department with any more revenue during the 1994-95 biennium. The sporting goods sales taxes dedicated to the agency are limited to the amount the agency would have normally received in cigarette taxes ($26 million annually).(10) In 1996 the appropriation, however, will be raised to $32 million.
In 1987, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spent $34,499,890 to maintain, administer and improve the Texas park system. In 1993, TPWD spent $36,092,717 on these operating costs. An additional $10,289,218 was spent on fixed capital outlay; this included major repairs at parks and improvements on park facilities.(11) Using these 1993 figures, per capita expenditures on the state park system is approximately $2.59.(12)
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, unfunded needs for the state park system during 1995-1999 will be approximately $456 million: $55 million unfunded repair needs, $45 million capital improvement unfunded needs, $82 million unmet development (park facilities) needs, $9 million unfunded conservation (erosion control, archaeological assessments, etc) needs and $265 million unfunded acquisition needs.(13)
The acquisition of parkland is decided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's nine member commission on a case-by-case basis and is dependent, of course, on available funds.
|WHERE THE MONEY GOES|
|FY 1994 Estimated Revenue: $168,272,017|
|Fisheries & Wildlife||26,080,933|
|Federal Grants/Pass Thrus||19,700,000|
|Local Park Grants||13,000,000|
*Includes dedicated appropriations, bond payment, Account 009 transfer, etc. Does not include estimated remaining available balances from FY 1993.
Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife, National Agenda: A Strategic Plan for Texas Parks and Wildlife, 1995-1999. June 1, 1994.
|PUBLICLY OWNED OR MANAGED LAND|
|TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE|
|State Parks and Recreation Areas||205,268 acres owned|
|Wildlife Management Areas||308,899 acres owned 449,196 acres managed/ leased|
|Natural Areas||301,687 acres owned|
|Historic Areas||8,906 acres owned|
|U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE|
|U.S.Forest Service||675,232 (includes national forest and grassland acreage)|
|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR|
|National Park Service||1,172,377|
|U.S. Fish & Wildlife||417,000|
|U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT|
|U.S. Military Bases||517,000|
|Corps of Engineers||235,000|
|TEXAS RIVER AUTHORITIES||4,743|
|MUNICIPAL/COUNTY OWNED PARKLAND||222,186|
|TOTAL||4,517,494 acres owned or managed by public entities.|
Note: The discrepancy between the percentages in this graph and the "State Park Acreage" table is due to the varying definitions of state parks.
Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife, National Agenda: A Strategic Plan for Texas Parks and Wildlife. June, 1994, 15.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as of September 1, 1993, there were 28.83 acres of state park system land (park, natural and historic areas) per thousand people. To maintain that relationship with current population growth, Texas must acquire 7,700 acres of parkland per year.(14)
|COMPARISON OF STATE PARK ACREAGE 1990|
|STATE||TOTAL PARK ACREAGE||PERCENT OF TOTAL U.S.PARK ACREAGE||PARK ACREAGE PER 100 RESIDENTS||RANK||PARK ACREAGE AS A PERCENT OF STATE LAND AREA||RANK|
|Total||11,060,922||100.0%||4.46 (Average)||0.5% (Average)|
Note: Includes state parks, national areas, historical areas, water use areas, environmental education areas and miscellaneous areas.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Forces of Change, Volume 2, Part 1. 1994, p. 399. From National Association of State Park Directors, Annual Information Exchange, April, 1990.
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