The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would close seven state parks during the 2014-2015 biennium under preliminary budget proposals from the House and Senate, and at least one group is ready to fight to keep them open.
In discussions before the legislative session began, the parks and wildlife department requested that the Legislative Budget Board allocate an additional $18.9 million from the sporting goods sales tax to keep all parks operational. The preliminary House and Senate budgets, released Tuesday, call for only an additional $6.9 million over the next biennium from that tax.
Ian Davis, the director of Keep Texas Parks Open, said parks improve Texans’ quality of life and stimulate local economies, especially in smaller counties. His organization will hold town hall meetings around the state and organize Texans online to advocate for additional funds so the department can keep all its parks open.
“We are trying to mobilize people across the state so they understand that it could be their park that closes,” Davis said.
John Barton, spokesman for the budget board, said specific parks have not been identified for potential closure and that the budget is subject to change as legislators deliberate over the coming months.