Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Texas Parks and Wildlife Pushes to Reinstate Funds for Program that Supports San Antonio Missions and Other Parks

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 10:42 AM

The San Antonio Missions are among the parks and natural sites funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. - PHOTO VIA INSTAGRAM / MISSIONSNPS
  • Photo via Instagram / missionsnps
  • The San Antonio Missions are among the parks and natural sites funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other advocates are making a last minute push for Congress to restore funding to a program that's provided $577 million in upkeep to Texas parks including the San Antonio Missions.

As we reported this fall, the 53-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired on Sept. 30 because Congress, despite bipartisan support, failed to reauthorize it. The program is funded by fees generated from offshore oil and gas development.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department chief Carter Smith urged Congress to reinstate the fund, telling the Texas Tribune it's "an incredibly powerful tool" for conservation work.

"Funds from the LWCF have been instrumental in aiding the department and our community partners in acquiring and developing much-needed park land to meet the quality of life, recreational and economic needs of a growing Texas," Smith said. "The absence of this highly leveraged, deeply popular funding stream would be a substantial loss for Texas.”

If lawmakers do reinstate the funding, it would be a true last-minute save, since they're set to adjourn next week until the new year.

Still, the reinstated funding would come at a vital time for Texas' parks. Natural areas in the state have an estimated $781 million in deferred maintenance and more than $167 million in overdue repairs, according to the Texas Tribune, citing state figures.

In addition to the San Antonio Missions, the LWCF has provided financial support to the Devils River State Natural Area, Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge and the Padre Islands National Seashore.

Outdoor recreation activities contribute $52.6 billion annually to Texas’ economy and support 411,000 jobs here, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

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