More than $335,000 has rolled in since Texas State Parks appealed for help, citing a $4.6 million revenue shortfall caused by heat, drought, wildfires and a drop in park visitation.
Park leaders today urged supporters to make a tax-deductible donation and renewed their call for people to visit state parks, touting cooler weather, parks greening after recent rains, and campfires now allowed again in almost every state park.
"We are tremendously encouraged and very grateful that we've received upwards of $335,000 in barely three weeks, with steady donations continuing to come in," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "That includes a single generous gift of $250,000, and we're hopeful that with more like that, we will reach our $4.6 million goal. But every donation, no matter the size, is important and appreciated."
Park officials continue to stress three ways Texans can help keep state parks open:
--Go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/helpparks
to make a tax-deductible donation.
--Make a donation when you renew your motor vehicle registration.
--Finally, because visitor fees pay for about half of park system operating costs, visit state parks often with family and friends.
TPWD has developed a new Spread the Word web page where park supporters can forward a YouTube video appeal, add an "I Love Parks" Twibbon wrapper on their Facebook profile photo, get buttons or banners for websites or blogs, download posters, and find other ways to share the message.
From Dec. 6-27, people had donated $64,826 online. Another $20,685 had been mailed in, including one check for $10,000. And officials said a steady stream of donations continues to come in each day.
All but about 10 of the 94 Texas State Parks have lifted burn bans, a big change since nearly two-thirds of the parks were not allowing ground campfires this fall because of drought and wildfire danger. Check each park's web page online for the latest information.
As one way to encourage park visits, Texas is participating in the national First Day Hikes program set out by the National Association of State Parks Directors (NASPD). For the first time in Texas, 48 state parks across the state will offer a wide variety of hikes and nature walks on New Year's Day. First Day Hikes in Texas vary in difficulty and fitness levels, and range from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails and along boardwalks, to special bird watching hikes, to climbs into the mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.
To learn about the various Texas State Parks and their offerings, or to make online camping reservations, visit http://www.texasstateparks.org. Or call state park information at 1-800-792-1112, option 3, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.