Ken Kramer (512-476-6962 or 512-626-4204, cell)
Donna Hoffman (512-477-1729)
Sierra Club Reaffirms Support for State Parks Funding
Audit Report Underscores Need for More Park Resources
(Austin)—State Sierra Club spokespersons reaffirmed today their support for greatly increased funding for the state parks system and the local parks grants program administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (Parks and Wildlife). Their comments came in the wake of the release of a State Auditor’s Office report on the financial operations at the state parks agency.
The Sierra Club says the reports findings underscore the need for more park resources.
“Any time an audit of a state agency is done, there are likely to be areas identified where the agency might perform better – if
the agency is given the resources to tackle problems,” said Evelyn Merz, Houston Sierra Club Group Chair and State Parks Issue Coordinator for the state Sierra Club chapter. “The
issues cited in the State Auditor’s report on Parks and Wildlife
the agency will be able to address fully if given the funding.
That’s why eliminating the cap on the sporting goods tax revenue allocated to parks is so critical this session.”
“Legislators certainly have the fiscal duty to make sure that state agencies are using the public’s money wisely,” said Ken Kramer, state Sierra Club director, “and we are pleased that Senator Ogden and the Senate Finance Committee have asked Parks and Wildlife what specific funding the agency needs to improve park operations based on the Auditor’s report. It’s clear, for example, that if one of the Auditor’s recommendations is to be implemented – collection of park entrance fees after normal operating hours – more park personnel or other resources will be needed to collect those fees.”
“The Sierra Club and many other organizations have monitored the activities of Parks and Wildlife for years and have studied the state parks funding needs intensively over the past several years,” said Kramer, “and we are firmly convinced that the agency needs more funding and will spend those additional funds effectively.”
“The Auditor’s report should not distract us from the fact that money is needed to expand existing parks and create new ones as well – our state has lost many opportunities to enhance our state park system through additional land available from willing sellers because Parks and Wildlife did not have money for acquisition,” added Kramer.
“Those are treasures perhaps forever lost to Texas. We need to get back on course and provide funds for acquisition to make sure that future generations will be able to enjoy forever the outdoors heritage so important to Texas.”