Texas State Parks are responsible for creating a generous amount of outdoor fun and entertainment. Nature walks, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and so many other outdoor activities. Many local Texans take advantage of the State Parks that appeal to most, and they even draw in tourists passing through. But after decades of under-funding, natural deterioration or disasters (including the recent flooding the state was abused by) and the millions of visitors passing through; Texas State Parks are in need of major maintenance, repairs, replacements and upgrades!
But good news for State Park enthusiasts, for 2016-2017 the legislature passed an incredible funding increase to contribute to the needs of Texas State Parks. Funding is coming from over 90% of the state tax revenue, from sales of sporting goods to the State Parks and Wildlife Departments and a few other resources. With more than 80 state parks in need of attention, the improvements are scheduled and excitement is building!
Throughout Texas, many state parks will receive some general improvements including; restrooms, water, waste water, electrical renovation and repairing. These utility systems will also be upgraded to high efficient energy standards. Other needed maintenance will be done on wwimming pools, bath houses, cabins, staff housing, sewers and boat ramps as needed. Even these small improvements will make an impact on park visitors.
Some of the major projects are going to be an exciting improvement, especially for the frequent state park guests. For example; Galveston Island State Park will get some much needed attention after the destructive power of the hurricane that passed through in 2008, starting with redeveloping the beachside. Restrooms, boardwalks, tent camping platforms, multi-use campsites equipped with electricity and water, group shelters and daily use picnic shelters are all a part of the plan to reconstruct the beachside in Galveston State Park.
Franklin Mountains State Park is getting a new visitor’s center; Battleship Texas State Historic Site will be enhanced with much needed repairs and replacements that are crucial for the structure on the ship. Trails and facilities that got negatively impacted from wildfires, floods, and hurricanes are all going to receive tender love and care. Palo Pinto Mountains State Park is getting master design development to bring Texans a new state park. Huntsville State Park will get leaks in the dam repaired.
With all these new changes, there will also be some rules that are getting revised. There are currently over 600,000 Texans that own boats. Titling and registering are going to be influenced concerning their vessels. Among them will be an option to receive an electronic notification that renewal is due. Along with that, boat owners will have a deadline of 20 days to notify the state of boat or motor ownership changes.
Good news for the young hunters, those 13 years of age and younger will no longer be required to provide their Social Security number to buy hunting or fishing licenses. Those buying new licenses for hunting or fishing should expect to be asked if they would like to voluntarily contribute to state-approved programs for hunter-harvested game to food banks throughout Texas.
There are many people, groups, volunteers and other entities that are going the extra mile in reviving the state parks. With everyone’s help, our state parks will thrive. With everyone doing their part, they can be better preserved for future generations.