February 15th, 2011
Teaming with Wildlife recently wrote to House Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Drew Darby, calling for strategic investments in the state’s parks and wildlife conservation with specific funding for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The text of their letter appears below:
February 15, 2011
The Honorable Drew Darby
Chairman House Appropriations Subcommittee
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768
Dear Chairman Darby:
Texas Teaming With Wildlife is a growing coalition of non-profit organizations working together in support of keeping Texas’ common wildlife common. Together, these groups are committed to insuring that Texas’ diverse wildlife population continues to thrive and survive. The Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) is a key player in this mission, and many of the proposed cuts in their budget would have a direct, negative effect on their commitment to the wildlife and natural resources of Texas. The current budget proposals would nearly eradicate Texas’ nongame programs, which are some of the fastest growing programs and most used by the public, including hikers, climbers, bird watchers, and boaters.
Teaming With Wildlife understands that the budget deficit requires cuts to be made in every department and believe that TPWD will be well prepared to handle the challenge, if the agency is given the flexibility to make cuts where they see appropriate. To that end, we respectfully request that the House Appropriations Committee take the following points into consideration as it relates to the Texas Parks and Wildlife budget:
- Allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department flexibility in making budget cuts. The experienced directors and staff of TPWD are in the best position to make the necessary budgets in a way that minimizes impact to the citizens of Texas. They are currently working diligently to assess where the most efficient cuts are.
- Level the proposed funding and FTE reductions across FY 2012 and 2013 in order to help make the recommended reductions more manageable from an operation, business, and budgeting standpoint. Several of the recommendations call for a deferral of programs for 6 months in FY 2012, with FTE and funding cuts front-loaded for that year. The reinstatement of these programs after 6 months poses significant operational impacts and budgeting challenges to Texas Parks and Wildlife in carrying out the affected services.
- Protect funding for Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Diversity Programs. Multiple endangered species in Texas are being considered for federal listing. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department needs the diversity budget to help the state deal with these listings and keep more species from being added. Without TPWD, the state will suffer from federal control over land use in areas of the state where these endangered species occur.
- Allow all revenues from the Horn Lizard License Plate to continue to be appropriated 100 percent by TPWD. Citizens buy these license plates in the expectation that they are making a contribution to Parks and Wildlife, and they should not be misled. Current budget proposals cut this appropriation in half. This revenue, while small, is crucial to the survival of the diversity programs, as well as for the reputation of the State of Texas.
- Allow all revenues from the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Fund to be appropriated 100 percent by TPWD. Since 1983, citizens have contributed to this fund specifically for the conservation of nongame and endangered species.
As mentioned above, Teaming With Wildlife understands the difficult budgeting decisions faced by the Texas Legislature in light of the deficit. We only ask that you consider what we ask and help save our natural resources and wildlife for future generations to enjoy. The health of our clean water and natural resources depends on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Chairman, Texas Teaming With Widlife
cc: The Honorable Jim Pitts, Chairman House Appropriations
The Honorable Lance Gooden, Member House Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Eric Johnson, Member House Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Doug Miller, Member House Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Dabie Riddle, Member House Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Raul Torres, Member House Appropriations Subcommittee