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TPWD Funding Falls Short in 2017 Legislative Session, Other Issues Fare Better

In regular session this spring, the Texas Legislature reneged on its past promises to fund needed repairs and overdue maintenance on Texas state parks, refusing once again to appropriate all the money from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to state parks (SGST).  While the amount funded was a higher percentage of the SGST than in the past, much of the increase went for repairs from recent floods and storm damage, continuing to leave the backlog underfunded.   No funding was appropriated to develop outstanding new parks, such as Palo Pinto Mountains and Powderhorn Ranch.  Local parks grants were zeroed and only a token amount granted for much-needed equipment for game wardens.

Water and wildlife issues fared better.  Several bills attempted to place limits on public participation in water rights hearings but none passed.

Thanks to a broad-based coalition of groups concerned with attempts to privatize wildlife, also not passing were fourteen bills filed related to deer and the deer breeding industry, most of which were detrimental to public resources.  The Legislature passed an important bill to protect oyster reefs.  The bill increases penalties for possession of undersized oysters and set up a mechanism for commercial oyster harvesters to sell their oyster licenses back to the State, to reduce pressure on over- harvested oyster reefs.

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