Record-breaking vote shows consensus and need for more Texas state parks

To my wife’s dismay, I was going to cook the Thanksgiving turkey over a campfire at Tyler State Park with the guidance of my son’s most recent Boy’s Life magazine.

We have a big map of Texas on the wall of our family room. We’re on a mission to visit all 90 or so state parks, and about 30 push pins show the ones we’ve visited so far.

At Monahans Sandhills State Park, we rode sleds down rolling dunes of sand, looking out to the horizon, where brilliant blue sky meets the white sand and yellow sunflowers of West Texas. At Goliad State Park and Historic Site, my son tried on a replica of the chain mail armor worn by conquistadors in the 1700s. At Garner, we captained paddle boats on the Frio River and at Balmorhea State Park, we swam in its crystal clear, spring-fed swimming pool.

Why not add a cooking adventure?

Unfortunately, there’s still no push pin for Tyler State Park. Heavy rains canceled our trip, so I cannot tell you how campfire-roasted turkey tastes. Worse, now we may have to wait a long time to get a spot again given the ever-increasing demand for state parks.

That’s due in part to the fact that parks are valued by everyone. We’ve met all kinds of people in our parks. Country folk and city people, Democrats and Republicans, Scout troops and bohemians jamming around the campfire. It seems that no matter what kind of Texan you are, state parks bring us all together.

The recent landslide victory for Proposition 5 backs that up. Prop 5, a constitutional amendment to guarantee sales taxes on sporting goods go to our state and local parks and historic sites, passed with 88 percent of the vote and majorities in every county. That’s right: every county. According to the Trust for Public Land, that margin of victory is the highest of any statewide ballot measure for parks or conservation in the history of the United States.

Read more from Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas, with The Houston Chronicle here.