Bill will restore Texas Parks’ role in protecting the state’s Water, Fish, and Wildlife Resources

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A new bill proposed in the Texas House of Representatives will restore to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department the key ability to participate in hearings that would directly affect the land, fish, and wildlife resources it manages on behalf of millions of Texans.

AUSTIN, Texas (April 27, 2021) — A new bill proposed in the Texas House of Representatives will restore to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department the key ability to participate in hearings that would directly affect the land, fish, and wildlife resources it manages on behalf of millions of Texans.

A single sentence buried in a legislative amendment in 2011 prohibited Parks & Wildlife from contesting permits that might adversely affect its properties and the fish and wildlife the agency manages. Proposed by Representative Tracy King, HB 2716 will restore Parks and Wildlife’s ability to participate in contested-case hearings for both water right permits and pollution discharge permits as necessary to protect the natural resources the agency manages.
 
The bill is currently in the House Calendars Committee prompting growing concern, with only five weeks left in the legislative session, over whether there will be enough time for it to reach and clear the Senate.

Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair of the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter said, “for over 25 years, the Parks and Wildlife Department had the authority to participate in contested-case hearings directly impacting the natural resources the agency manages for the people of Texas. When that authority was suddenly removed in 2011, Parks and Wildlife lost a key tool for protecting the land, fish, and wildlife placed under its care. We call on the Texas House of Representatives to swiftly approve this critical bill so that it can be sent to the Senate in time to pass during this legislative session.”

“Our state parks are home to a remarkable array of beautiful landscapes, fish, and animal life,” said Amanda Fuller, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program. “These natural resources belong to all Texans and drive critical components of the Texas economic engine including the travel, recreation, hunting, and angling industries. Parks & Wildlife participation in hearings on water rights and pollution discharge permits is an important avenue for the agency to provide its unique scientific expertise and stewardship perspective on decisions that directly impact the resources it manages. We call on lawmakers to pass this bill without further delay. The future of our increasingly threatened parks depends on it.”

The bill is supported by a broad, and growing, range of hunting, angling, recreational, and environmental organizations including:

All Water Guides
Audubon Texas
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Bayou City Waterkeeper
Clean Water Action
Coastal Alliance to Protect Our Environment
Coastal Conservation Alliance
Defenders of Wildlife
Ducks Unlimited
Environment Texas
Environmental Defense Fund
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Friends of San Saba
Friends of the Neches River
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
Hill Country Alliance
King Ranch, Inc.
League of Independent Voters of Texas
League of Women Voters of Texas
Miso’s Oysters
National Wildlife Federation
Port Arthur Shrimpers Association
Prestige Oysters
Public Citizen
Save Barton Creek Association
Save Our Springs Alliance
Sierra Club – Lone Star Chapter
Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society
Texas Conservation Alliance
Texas Foundation for Conservation
Texas Land Trust Council
Texas Real Estate Advocacy &  Defense Coalition
Texas Travel Alliance
Texas Travel Association
Texas Wildlife Association
The Nature Conservancy

Further information on the bill can be found here.