During the recent Annual Meeting of Texans for State Parks I was honored to be selected as the new President of the organization. I look forward to serving in this role and expanding on the foundations established by those who have contributed their time and efforts over the past years on behalf of the organization and the parks we love. While I have a long history with Texas State Parks, I am new to the board of Texans for State Parks and will be learning from my fellow board members and the group’s members and working to strengthen the organization during my term. I hope to meet many of you during the coming months, as I know that our membership personifies the best of our state!
Like much of the world, Texans for State Parks has been quiet during the past two years, but the enthusiasm of those who came to Fort Parker State demonstrated their commitment to making Texas state parks the best in the nation. This is an exciting time for our group – and the state park system! The positive results of the success from many years of effort to secure a stable and secure funding source for parks are beginning to be felt across our parks and can be seen in new faces among the staff, new equipment for them to work with, and the initiation of many long overdue repair and maintenance projects.
The fact that state parks play an essential role in the health and well-being of Texas is amply demonstrated by the fact that 2021 saw record crowds in parks – nearly 10 million visitors! Texans yearned to escape from their screens and isolation, and our parks were there to provide access to the outdoors for them, forcefully demonstrating that a healthy park system is not a luxury but a critical part of the state’s infrastructure that must be properly maintained and enhanced to meet the needs of our growing state.
As the state park system of Texas approaches its one hundredth anniversary in 2023, Texans for State Parks will be working alongside park staff and the leadership of the Parks and Wildlife Department to make this a celebration to remember. Every state park will be involved, and there will be an opportunity for all of us who love and appreciate our state parks to support and enhance this celebration. At the same time, the board of Texans for State Parks will be working to strengthen our group and assist with the development and enhancement of state park partnerships at the local level.
In the coming year Texans for State Parks will be working to ensure that our park system continues to grow and develop for another century. I hope you will join me in these efforts through your membership and involvement. A healthy park system and the natural and cultural resources preserved at these sites depend on it!
See you at the park!