Dear Friends in Conservation,
I’m happy to report a very successful 86th legislative session. First and foremost, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission received the full appropriation of Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST) used to maintain state and local parks. This is the sales tax collected on sporting goods, and is not a new tax.
In addition, Texans will have the opportunity to permanently dedicate this source of funding by voting in favor of a constitutional amendment on the November 2019 ballot.
As you may know, funding for state and local parks is currently subject to the appropriations process, which means a significant amount of the money is often withheld by the Legislature to certify the budget.
There are multiple reasons to support the constitutional amendment. Land in Texas is 96% privately owned, and state parks provide important public access to the outdoors. In many cases, state parks are the gateway to the outdoors for Texans.
We have almost 10 million visitors annually to state parks resulting in substantial wear and tear on infrastructure, particularly in the popular parks near urban areas. At the same time, state parks suffer from hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance exacerbated by nature disasters.
Developing a new state park is a multi-year process, which is almost impossible with an uncertain funding stream. And finally, dedication of these funds improves transparency in government spending.
John Shepperd, Texas Foundation for Conservation firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-823-8002
Spring Branch, Texas — The Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) and the Hill Country Alliance co-hosted the workshop, “Saving Family Lands: Tools for Landowners in Comal County,” on February 15, 2019 at the Anhalt Dance Hall in Spring Branch, Texas.
The one-day workshop, which highlighted financial and conservation tools available to rural landowners in fast-growing Hill Country counties, attracted ninety attendees. The workshop was designed to provide farmers, ranchers, and other landowners with effective tools and resources to help them address issues inherent in passing family land on to future generations.
Speakers presented on a variety of topics including the case for conservation in Comal County; wildlife and open space valuation; financial tools and programs for landowners; conservation easement basics and tax benefits; and the role of land trusts. The workshop ended with a panel discussion with local landowners and conservation easement donors. The presentations generated many questions from the audience.
“With rates of land development and subdivision booming in Central Texas, workshops like this one provide a critical service to landowners interested in protecting their land and handing on a conservation ethic to future generations,” said Katherine Romans, executive director of the Hill Country Alliance.
Attendee Steve Hixon said, “It was an excellent landowner workshop. We got very useful information on conservation easements to help protect our family ranch for future generations.”
“The event featured well-informed speakers who covered a wide range of topics related to land conservation—from the basics of a conservation easement to tax advantages,” said attendee Martha Bersch. “The information will be valuable in my family’s discernment regarding the future of our land.”
“It was encouraging to see so many people interested in preserving their land,” Elizabeth Bowerman, President of the CCCA, said. “Some families in our county live on land that has been in their family for six or seven generations! These lands are an important part of the culture and the rural fabric of our area, and the CCCA is happy to be able to help these ranchers and landowners find ways to preserve their land for future generations.”
The workshop was conducted with assistance from Alamo Resource Conservation & Development Area Inc., Anhalt Hall, Blair Wildlife Consulting, Braun & Gresham Family of Companies, Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, Hill Country Land Trust, James D. Bradbury PLLC, Plateau Land Group, Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, Ranch Connection LLC, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Wildlife Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and facilitated by Carolyn Vogel, Texas Conservation Connection.
The Comal County Conservation Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to protect land, water, and wildlife in Comal County. The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country.
MEDIA CONTACT: Carolyn Vogel 512.633.4995 email@example.com
Download the full press release here:
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation today released a new report about the strong and growing economic role state parks have on the Texas economy. The research showed the parks generated more than $891 million in sales activity, had a $240 million impact on the incomes of Texas residents, and supported an estimated 6,081 jobs throughout the state in 2018.
A new group, the Texas Coalition for State Parks, was launched by a group of former Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioners and park advocates with the sole purpose of advocating for a constitutional dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to state parks funding. The Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) quickly joined the coalition. View the full list of members as well as the press release by clicking here.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the largest known artesian well in the world was drilled in southwest Bexar County to feed a controversial catfish farm. Now San Antonio Water System has permanently sealed off the infamously abundant 30-inch well with mud and concrete. Read the full article here.
The City of New Braunfels has a new ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wildlife. The Watershed Protection Plan is intended to protect and preserve the water quality in Dry Comal Creek and the Comal River, and it recommends discouraging the feeding of wildlife in order to minimize bacteria loading to our waterways as well as multiple other reasons. See the full article here: https://bit.ly/2UpLz9I
To read the City of New Braunfels press release, click here.
“Imagine A Day Without Water” is today. For the past two weeks, I have been sending water conservation tips via Twitter and Facebook. This is my top 10 list of things I would miss the most if there was no drinkable water left in the world.
Huge problems happen without water because it’s our most precious natural resource. But thousands of people don’t realize that water is finite – meaning it doesn’t last forever. The more water we contaminate, the harder it is to clean, and at some point, the water becomes unusable. The world was horrified at what happened with Flint, Michigan, water. We need to be mindful of water usage and protect our water infrastructure. How? In the United States, make sure your federal and state representatives make water infrastructure a priority! On a personal level, try conserving where you can. How much water do you use?
- Georgia Shaffer