The start of the new year always offers a time for new resolutions and celebrations and 2023 is no different. Of particular note, the year marks a full century since founding of the Texas State Park system. In 1923, the Texas legislature created the Texas State Parks Board and empowered it to investigate prospective park sites. From this meager beginning, the Texas State Park system has grown into a system of nearly 90 state parks which conserve more than 630,000 acres of wildlife habitat, historic and prehistoric sites, spectacular scenery and recreational venues. In the past year, these parks were visited nearly 10 million times as people from across the state and the world sought places for outdoor recreation, family gatherings and a deeper understanding of the history and nature of our unique state. Our parks provide immense contributions to our economy as well as improving our physical and mental well being. As our state’s population continues to grow, the land preserved by these parks provides critical wildlife habitat and contributes to precious surface and groundwater resources. The celebration of 100 years of Texas State Parks is a time for all of us express our support of state parks and the continued growth and improvement of the crown jewels of Texas.

The new year also marks twenty-five years since a varied group of citizens including birders, bikers, hikers and historians gathered to discuss their common interest in state parks and how they could join together to provide a common voice for their efforts. This gathering led to the creation of Texans for State Parks, which continues that important effort today.

I hope you will join us at the Texans for State Parks Annual Conference at McKinney Falls SP in Austin on February 3 & 4 where once again, those who care about our state parks will join together in support of state parks. We’ll hear directly from State Parks Director Rodney Franklin about current issues in parks and what the upcoming legislative session may bring. Partner groups across the state will show how they are providing direct assistance to parks through the volunteerism, community engagement and financial assistance, and we will recognize the contributions of staff members and volunteers from across the state that were nominated by their peers for their incredible efforts in parks in 2022. Register here to reserve your spot and this fun and educational event!