This year I wrote and created a travel journal for Texas State Parks -- Texas State Parks Journal. In the process of writing this book I did buckets of research on the history of Texas State Parks. Initially it was going to be a whole chapter in the book, however I found it to be far too interesting and complex to keep it to just a single chapter. (More on that in another post 😉.)
One thing that I found to be absolutely consistent from the conception of state parks from Governor Neff, through the end of the CCC’s time building our parks, well into the 1980s to today was that the parks are historically underfunded. In my research it seemed to be so common a theme that I just came to expect it for the most part. Granted, there are several brave souls who have raised their mantle and taken on park funding, but it’s always been a great fight.
An interesting thing that came out of the Pandemic was the spotlight that shined on Texas State Parks. People were camping, they were going outside, they were exploring the vast natural diversity Texas has to offer. Visitation was at a record high but it had been nearly 10 years since a new state park had been developed and opened.
When I was making a journal page for each state park in my book, I considered, “what if they HAPPEN to open a new park.” By the time I started writing the journal it had been 10 years since Old Tunnel State Park opened. Palo Pinto State Park had been in development for some time, and promises of a 2023 opening date were starting to surface (it’s November 2023 and it is still not open). Yet in an act of hope, dreams, and let’s go with manifestation, I added blank park pages. Several blank park pages, in hopes that new parks would someday happen and there would be space for them to be added to readers already full journals.
Then came proposition 14, The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund, which would provide $1 billion in funding, from Texas’ budget surplus for the purchase and development of new state parks. (You can read more about The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund in this article I wrote.)
I got to work sharing about the proposition in our hiking group. I shared on social media. I talked with friends, encouraging them to vote. I was hopeful it would pass, as Prop 5 in the 2019 election passed (a permanent dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to fund ongoing operations of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department). But you never know with these things, especially with the low voter turnouts.
So on Tuesday I voted. I wore my Houston Women’s Hiking hat. I hoped the spotlight on the state parks during the pandemic and everything currently transpiring with Fairfield Lake State Park would be enough to get Texans to the polls to vote.
On Wednesday morning I saw that proposition 14 passed. And not only did it pass, but it passed with 77% of the vote, receiving one of the highest totals of all of the Propositions! There was a record turnout with more than 2.5 Million votes cast (still a sad turnout as there are around 21.7 million Texans within voting age, but that’s a whole other thing).
Tears filled my eyes.
I love our Texas State Parks. They feel like home to me in so many ways, I grew up in them, and I get to share them with my daughter and husband. They idea that there is now significant funding for the expansion of the park system fills me with joy. I hope Governor Neff and his mom are smiling today. They set a vision in motion 100 years ago and it seems fitting that we honor their vision with funding they probably never dreamed of.
So it turns out, I created those blank parks pages in the Texas State Park Journal for a reason. As I write this, sitting in the back of my camper, parked in my favorite site at Huntsville State Park I am absolutely overjoyed. The parks are finally getting the attention, and funding, they so deserve.
Cheers fellow Texans, we have new parks on the horizon and I cannot wait to visit them!
The Texas State Park Journal is the perfect log book for any explorer wanting to keep a record of their Texas State Park adventures.
"I just received my copy as a gift from my mom. Looking forward to using it when the weather cools at the local State Parks. The build quality seems good with a thick paper cover that should hold up in my hiking bag. I like the addition of an activities checklist as well as a park stamp spot. I could see this being really useful with kids as a way for them to document their adventures. Quality product that is making me excited for hiking once the weather cools!"
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Amazon Review, Jacob S.