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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — April 3, 2006

State Parks Advisory Board To Seek Funding Options

AUSTIN, Texas — A new Texas State Parks Advisory Board has been appointed to explore several issues facing the state park system. The board will hold its first, organizational meeting from 1-4 p.m. April 13 at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters in Austin.

TPW Commission Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons appointed the board and has asked for recommendations on four topics, including exploring funding options for the state park system. The board is also charged with considering any existing units of the state park system that might be operated by more appropriate entities; the role of public-private partnerships in parks, including concessions, sponsorships and incentive based solutions; and options to accomplish goals for state and local parks in the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, the 10-year operating plan for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The new 14-member board includes former state legislators and leaders of state agencies and conservation and tourism organizations. (See list below.)

“The formation of this board has been in the works for many months; I deliberately chose a broad cross section of citizens, taking the time to speak with each one and hear their thoughts on the importance of our state parks,” said Joseph Fitzsimons of San Antonio, TPW Commission chairman. “It is an impressive group of people with integrity, experience, a predilection for practical results and a demonstrated passion for state parks. However, those of us who love parks should by no means assume that all our problems will be solved because this group is now in place. A great state deserves great state parks, and it will take all Texans who care working together to achieve that goal.”

The state park system began in 1907 with the establishment of the San Jacinto Battlefield site. It has since grown to a system of more than 115 sites representing important pieces of Texas’s natural and cultural history. Each year, state parks attract an estimated 10 million visitors. Tourism is one of the largest components of the Texas economy and the state park system is a keystone element, generating more than $1.2 billion in economic benefits annually, mostly in rural Texas. This adds to the obvious value of inexpensive, nearby family oriented recreational activities and places to learn about the diverse history and landscape of Texas.

Advisory board members include:

* Correction, April 14, 2006: The original version of this news release incorrectly stated John Montford’s title at AT&T. (Return to corrected item.)

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