Tour of Texas State Parks


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Tour of Texas State Parks

  1. 1. Tour of Texas State Parks WITH CHERYL LEJUNE
  2. 2. A Little History … Texas resisted easy settlement But, in most places, the taming of the frontier had dramatic impact on the land and wildlife: • Cut down forests • Plowed land • Cleared brush • Drained swamps • Built mills on streams
  3. 3. A Little History … 1860s • Texas passed first laws to protect fish and wildlife 1907 • Texas created a game agency to protect state’s resources • Funding? Early 20th century • National movement to protect natural wonders – Yosemite and Yellowstone • Under President Theodore Roosevelt, federal park system greatly expanded • No parks in Texas! Why?
  4. 4. A Little History … 1907, again • The Daughters of the Republic of Texas persuaded legislature to purchase 300 acres of the San Jacinto battleground, the Alamo long barracks, Washingtonon-the Brazos, as well as other Texas Revolution historic sites. 1919 • These historic parks were brought under management of State Board of Control – the first state parks in Texas • Except, the Alamo – under DRT management
  5. 5. A Little History … 1917 • National Park Service created  Objective to preserve the natural resources and provide services to visitors  Before NPS, Army troops were used to serve park visitors, develop roads and buildings, protect park from vandalism and illegal activities  Visitation to national parks climbed more and more – Automobile! In order to take pressure off national parks, NPS encouraged development of state parks.
  6. 6. A Little History … 1920 • Progressive governor, Pat Neff, and legislature elected in Texas 1923 • State Parks Board created in Texas • Neff’s vision of Texas parks differed greatly from NPS  Wanted to build campgrounds for Texans who loved to travel by automobile  NPS wanted to protect nature • First State Parks Board – 3 men and 3 women • Neff’s family donated land that would later become one of the first state parks in Texas, Mother Neff SP
  7. 7. A Little History … 1920s • State Parks Board  Unfunded!  Needed roads, trails, bridges, hotels, sanitation, maintenance  Could only accept donations of land  Not authorized to purchase land or make any improvements • Texas Legislature refused to spend a dime on state parks system  Donated land was refused unless donor paid for development and maintenance  Only Longhorn Caverns was attained with a contract for its development Then…
  8. 8. A Little History … The Great Depression • Broke loose millions of federal dollars to create a state park system larger than Neff ever dreamed. • CCC came to Texas  Required that Texas legislature pony up money to run a Parks program or else it would pull out  Governor Miriam (Ma) Ferguson quickly agreed
  9. 9. A Little History … 1930s • Sites selected for state parks • Ideal park within driving distance of major urban area • Only most spectacular scenery justified remote parks – Palo Duro, Big Bend, Davis Mountains • Camping at all state parks • Leave landscape as untouched as possible • Naturalistic cottages, lodges with local stone and woodwork - CCC built 41 Texas state parks - $20 million federal money spent on state, local and roadside parks
  10. 10. A Little History … New Deal problem • Federal program set expectations for state programs • Park demand increased as federal spending decreased with no state funding • State park funding now competing with schools, prisons, highways, welfare programs 1939 • Legislature funded only 6 months of operation per year • Governor vetoed appropriation of land for Big Bend • Finally appropriated money due to CCC threat to pull out, again Next …
  11. 11. A Little History … World War II • Parks Board expected visitation to drop, but it actually increased • Wartime usage damaged some parks; grazing and oil exploration • Intra-agency feuding • 1942 – completed purchase of Big Bend purchase • 1944 – Big Bend deed transferred to Federal Government on June 6th 1950-1960s • Major drought (1950-1957)- All but 10 Texas counties declared federal disaster areas • Hurricane Carla – 1961 • Devastated Texas State Parks
  12. 12. A Little History … Post WW II • Pressure on parks  Construction of interstate highway system  Higher standard of living  Aging and inadequate park facilities • State funding? 1963 • Governor John Connally formed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department • Created from Parks Board and Game & Fish Commission • Connally obtained large budget increase for parks as part of merger
  13. 13. A Little History … 1967 • First bond issued for parks for $75 million • Bond retired using new park entrance fees 1971 • Legislature instituted a 1₵ per pack of cigarettes tax for Texas Parks Fund • Generated $1 million/month in first year 1970s • Parks opened include favorites: Balmorhea, Perdernales Falls, Galveston Island, McKinney Falls, Lost Maples, and the Texas State Railroad • End of decade – 130 parks
  14. 14. A Little History … The Golden Age – 1963-1988 • Number of state parks more than doubled • 10-fold increase in acreage • 1988 largest state park acquired – Big Bend Ranch  300,000 acres  “In the stroke of a pen, the park system more than doubled in size!” Contemporary Issues • Changes in disposable income, technology (gear and information), interests… “Parks are in danger of being loved to death”
  15. 15. Texas Parks System Today • Over 90 parks, historical sites and natural areas • Amenities vary depending on location, historical and conservation objectives: • • • • • • Overnight camping Water sports – fishing, boating Hiking Biking trails Interpretive trails Day use only • • • • • Cabins Motel/lodge Park store Restaurant Swimming
  16. 16. Texas Parks Programs • Texas Outdoor Family • Free Fishing in Parks • Geocache Challenge • Junior Ranger Program • The Arts in the Parks • Texas Buffalo Soldiers • Texas CCC Parks • BOW – Becoming an Outdoor Woman
  17. 17. Texas Parks Publications • • • • • • • • • State Park Guide State Park Maps Bird Checklists Activity Guides Educational Rack Cards Hike and Bike Trails Volunteering Interpretive Guides
  18. 18. Texas State Parks Passes State Parks Pass - $70/year • Free daily entry to parks for everyone in vehicle • Discounts on camping Parklands Pass – No cost • Reduced or free entry to parks
  19. 19. Impact of CCC on Texas State Parks • With Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal elevated conservation and public recreation to a national crusade. • Roosevelt proposed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a major emergency program devoted to natural resources, outdoor recreation and useful employment. • Among its many innovations, the CCC directly involved the federal government for the first time in the development of state and local parks. • Today in Texas, 29 state parks, numerous city and county parks, and a national park exhibit distinctive buildings, structures and facilities built by the CCC between 1933 and 1942. • At the peak of the program and at the depth of the Depression in 1935, 27 CCC companies worked on Texas state parks. Forest and soil conservation camps, in contrast, comprised the majority of Texas CCC assignments with 70 camps and about 14,000 men in 1935 alone. This represented one of the largest concentrations of CCC camps in the country, from a nationwide total of 2,916 camps that year.
  20. 20. Impact of CCC on Texas State Parks • By 1942, when the Congress ended the CCC, this unprecedented cooperative effort had developed 56 parks in Texas. Most of them remain public parks, including the 29 sites in the state park system. • Of special note is former Big Bend State Park, accepted as a new national park by Roosevelt on June 6, 1944, a gift of the state of Texas complete with initial CCC development in the Chisos Mountains between 1934 and 1942.
  21. 21. Texas State Parks Regions
  22. 22. TPWD State Parks Web Page
  23. 23. Pictures Sometimes called the "Texas Alps," the Davis Mountains were inaccessible by auto until the 1930s. This photo was taken circa 1915. Pat Neff speaks to the CCC camp in Big Bend's Chisos Mountains, 1934.
  24. 24. Pictures The CCC camp in the basin of Big Bend's Chisos Mountains, 1934. It was not all work for the CCC boys. Swimming in Cat-Tail Canyon in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend State Park, 1934.
  25. 25. Pictures In 1966, the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation began the production of "TEXAS," a musical pageant about the history of the Texas Panhandle, in the spectacular setting of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. In 1972, TPWD began rehabilitation of a 19th century rail line between Rusk and Palestine to showcase the history and romance of steam locomotives. Today, the train's operation is threatened by severe budget constraints. It has become a symbol of the distressed conditions faced by Texas state parks in the 21st century.
  26. 26. Pictures The Alamo church was purchased by the state of Texas in 1883 and was managed by the city of San Antonio. In 1905, the state purchased the rest of the mission property and turned the complex into a museum and shrine operated to this day by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Photo circa 1920.
  27. 27. Bastrop Fire
  28. 28. Bastrop Fire
  29. 29. Bastrop Fire Bastrop Fire – TPWD video DayTripper – A year after the fire
  30. 30. For More Parks Information Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine $10/year Texas Parks and Wildlife on PBS and Cable
  31. 31. Support Texas State Parks Volunteer Donate • • • • • • • • • Park Host Tour Guide Trail Maintenance Office Assistant When you register vehicle Online Purchase Bluebonnet license plate Visit parks Purchase State Parks Pass
  32. 32. Photos Courtesy of TPWD
  33. 33. Lake Somerville – Birch Creek Photos courtesy of Mike Kelley
  34. 34. Lake Somerville - Newman’s Bottom Monument Hill Kreische Brewery
  35. 35. West Texas Photo Tour