Texas Should Really Care About Parks and Wildlife

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 21, 2007

Dear Editor,
    It’s been decades since the Legislature has adequately funded our state parks. Even still, dedicated state employees (yes, they do exist!) of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have soldiered on, managing Texas’ parks and historic sites amazingly well.
    But now, if Texas Historical Commission Chairman John “Skeletor” Nau gets his way, he will take control of historic sites, despite the fact that THC lacks the infrastructure, staffing, and skills to manage and operate these landmarks of our heritage. Unfortunately, Nau has bought enough influence at the Capitol to make this happen: After taking the governor on a trip to the Bahamas, Nau and his Silver Eagle Distributing Company gave a few hundred grand to well-placed elected officials (including Perry, Dewhurst, and Craddick).
    And voilà! Speaker Craddick directs the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman to secretly begin negotiating transfer of historic sites to THC. In January, Nau meets with Perry, and the next week the governor directs TPWD to provide a list of historic sites and their budgets to Nau.
    Texas’ historic sites belong to the people of Texas. They are too valuable, too important to us, our ancestors and our children and grandchildren, to become pawns in such a power play. This is a classic tale of vanity and influence attempting to overpower common sense. THC should indeed keep its important roles, regulating historic archeology and preserving Texas history. But we already have an institution with the staff, skills, and infrastructure to manage and operate historic sites – Texas Parks and Wildlife. TPWD should be properly funded and allowed to do its job, not robbed of properties it has managed and protected for decades.
Kathleen McTee
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