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Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine focuses on agency’s 50 years
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) marks its 50th anniversary this summer with a special issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. The magazine tips a figurative Stetson to the various partners who helped further the agency’s conservation mission over the last five decades, and looks ahead to the next half century.
Anyone can see the special issue at www.lifesbetteroutside.org, where online readers can receive a complimentary copy of the 50th anniversary magazine and a free Life’s Better Outside window decal by signing up to become a Texas Parks and Wildlife ambassador.
The 74-page special issue includes articles on the agency’s history, accomplishments and partners. Also featured are vintage black and white photos along with striking color images of some of the people, places and things that make the Texas outdoors special.
While the department traces its heritage to 1895, with the creation of the Fish and Oyster Commission, the special issue points out how the modern history of TPWD dates to 1963. That’s when the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 21, a measure introduced by Weatherford State Rep. James M. Cotton. The bill, pushed by Gov. John B. Connally as part of his campaign to modernize state government, merged the Game and Fish Commission with the State Parks Board. The final bill passed in the Senate in early April and Connally later signed it into law with an effective date of Aug. 23.
In “The Next 50 Years,” TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith looks toward the agency’s next half-century.
“We can’t and won’t rest on our laurels,” Smith writes. “The state is growing by leaps and bounds, and TPWD must contend not only with burgeoning pressures on our fish and wildlife populations and their habitats, but also with a citizenry that is more urban, more diverse and more disconnected from the outdoors than any previous generation.”
In coming years, he writes, the department will face a wide variety of issues ranging from loss of wildlife habitat to the availability of water. State parks will have to be maintained and improved, and new park land acquired.
“The essential work of your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will always be measured in generational terms, not in short-term fiscal cycles,” Smith concludes. “In many ways, it is tantamount to the timeless parable about planting a tree so that someone else can enjoy the shade it ultimately provides.” The 50th anniversary website www.lifesbetteroutside.org features stories and photos already submitted by people across the state. The department is inviting people to submit stories and photos about their best outdoor memories in Texas and sign up to become ambassadors, pledging to do things like visit a state park, take a kid hunting or fishing, and watch and share a video showcasing what’s made life better outside in Texas.
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