From the Pen of Carter P. Smith
It has been a staple in our family for as long as I can remember — a place to retreat to for rich and colorful storytelling, unparalleled scenery of Texas’ wildest places, trips to the backcountry and to the near shore, and special insights into the issues surrounding our beloved lands, waters, fish, wildlife and parks.
I am talking about, of course, the very thing you are now reading — Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.
Since 1942, the writers, editors, photographers and artists associated with this magazine have proudly brought you what I believe to be the gold standard for comprehensive coverage of Texas’ great outdoors. It’s the place to go for anyone who wishes to learn a little more about our home ground.
If you want to delve into the plants of the Big Thicket or the bears of the Big Bend, probe the birds of the Brush Country and the fish in the bays, you’ll find it here. If chasing pheasants or blue quail is your thing, we cover it. Interested in wetting a line in the Laguna Madre or Toledo Bend? We’ll share tips from accomplished anglers. Curious about the Buffalo Soldiers or the men from the CCC? We’ll tell you their stories. Would you like to visit one of your 93 state parks and historic sites? Explore them first in these pages. Are you intrigued by the state and stewardship of our springs, creeks, rivers, lakes and bays? So are we.
I love this magazine. Every time I open its pages, I think about my grandmother, a farm girl from Killeen who liked nothing better than to fuss over the birds in her backyard and to travel across the state with my grandfather, visiting some new haunt she had read about in the magazine. She loved the pictures of the wildlife and the tales of parks and places she had visited or wanted to visit. She thought her grandson should know about such things, so she gave me a subscription every year for Christmas. I read every issue cover to cover.
When I came back to the department almost four years ago, advice about what to do and what not to do came freely and fully. Some admonished me to not forget the parks or the redfish or the hunters and anglers who pay our bills. My old friend Dan Pedrotti told me in no uncertain terms that I’d better not screw up the bighorn sheep program. And I am sure my grandmother would have said: Don’t you dare mess with the magazine.
But here we are, at a time when we must make changes. As one might surmise, they are born out of necessity by a new biennial state budget that brings appreciable cuts to the agency and to its programs. The magazine is no exception.
Rest assured, the magazine will live on, but changes are on the way. I ask you to continue to support us (just as my grandmother always did) as we make necessary changes to keep the magazine going strong.
For starters, we are going to reduce the number of annual issues from 12 to 10, combining those in August/September and January/February. We’ll make other adjustments, too, like significantly reducing the number of free copies we distribute.
Regrettably, we’ll have fewer resources to pay for the work of consulting writers and photographers, men and women who have contributed immensely to the quality of this magazine for a long time. We’ll have to rely more on our own creative talent, so you’ll read and see more from agency fish and wildlife biologists, park staff and game wardens, plus colleagues like our accomplished photographer Earl Nottingham and TPWD media specialist Mike Cox, who is a noted Texas historian and whose very own grandfather, L.A. Wilke, was an editor of this magazine. (See story on Page 50.)
What I can assure you will not change is our deep and abiding commitment to bringing you the best of Texas. This magazine is your magazine, and for almost 70 years, we’ve proudly brought the great outdoors to generations of Texans. Thank you for being one of our loyal readers, now and into the future.