Texas parks department, advocates pushing Congress to reauthorize key conservation fund

The chief of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the absence of the 54-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund is a “substantial loss” for state parks and natural areas.

With Congress set to adjourn next week, parks advocates are pushing for lawmakers to revive a half-century-old program that has pumped more than a half-billion dollars into Texas’ parks and natural areas.

Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expire on Sept. 30. The fund — established in 1964 to support the maintenance of national parks, wildlife refuges and trails, as well as state and local parks — has supplied Texas with more than $577 million.

Popular destinations like San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Devils River State Natural Area, Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine National Forest have all benefited.

The LWCF Coalition, a group pushing for reauthorization, said more than $165 million in potential funding has been lost to parks nationally since the fund expired.

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