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From the Pen of Robert L. Cook

Our new hunting and fishing licenses go on sale in early August. The SuperCombo hunting and fishing license with all the bells and whistles — including the new $5 freshwater fisheries stamp — costs $64. By adding the $15 federal duck stamp, you can hunt and fish in Texas for every legal species during the next 12 months. In addition, our new Annual State Parks Pass, which gets you into every state park and historic site in Texas for one year, sells for $60; for another $15, you can add a second pass for your better half. There are no better recreational deals anywhere.

Occasionally, people call me to say they do not want their tax dollars wasted on anything to do with hunting, fishing or boating. Now and then someone else will encourage me to spend a larger percentage of tax dollars on our state parks or historic sites and less on our fish hatcheries and wildlife management areas. When I hear from these folks, I explain how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is funded.

The vast majority of TPWD funding comes from revenue paid by our “users.” Our users fall into two main groups. One group consists of the people who picnic, camp and enjoy the outdoors in our state parks, along with those who visit our historic and cultural sites. The revenue from park entrance fees, cabin fees and park concessions goes into an account that we call Fund 64, the State Park Fund. A second group consists of people who hunt, fish and boat in Texas. The revenue from the sale of all hunting and fishing licenses and stamps, as well as the money from boat registration fees, goes into an account that we call Fund 9, the Game and Fish Fund.

These are “dedicated” accounts; by statute, Fund 9 and Fund 64 are kept separate from each other. Revenue from state parks cannot be used for hunting, or for fish hatcheries, or for game wardens or for any purpose other than state parks and historic sites. The only exception is a new statutory requirement directing that 15 percent of boat registration fees go into Fund 64 for state-park-related activities.

That exception aside, revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and boat registration cannot be used for our state parks or historic sites. Fund 9 can only be used in our inland and coastal fisheries research, surveys and hatcheries and in our wildlife surveys, research and hunting programs and in enforcement of game, fish and boater-safety laws.

The only general revenue that is appropriated by the Texas Legislature for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to use is primarily directed towards our state parks and historic sites, with some funds allocated for the repair and maintenance of our buildings and facilities across the state, and some allocated for our local and community park grant program.

We try to be efficient and cost-effective in everything we do. We work hard to not waste any funds made available to us. Your use, enjoyment and appreciation of the sites and natural resources for which we are responsible are important to us, and we appreciate your support. Get outdoors. Get involved. Enjoy.

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