"Habitat, Habitat, Habitat"

Excerpts from an interview with Robert L. Cook

Comments of Robert Cook, newly appointed executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife:

On choosing a professional path: "I was born and raised in Central Texas, shooting rabbits and other critters, fishing, spending my days outside. When I found out there was a job where I could get paid to do that, I didn't have to think twice."

On outgoing director Andy Sansom: "Andy was absolutely the best thing to ever happen to the agency. He was a visionary. I used to laugh at him, but we got to be pretty close. But he would suggest things, and it would be months before I would figure out what he was talking about. My hat's off to him."

On conservation vs. recreation: "Our priority is conservation. Sure, we've got to allow for the use and enjoyment of the land, but what we're really responsible for is to maintain that resource, and don't let the various uses deplete the resource. ... I've always said that there were three things that needed taking care of: Habitat, habitat, habitat."

On the importance of private land: "The landowner is the guy who ends up doing it or not doing it, so we've worked really hard to work with landowners as consultants. We go and do habitat analysis and population surveys to help the landowners get involved and conserve that resource."

On TPW's fiscal crisis: "If I could get more money, I would do so. But I want to make it perfectly clear, during the last three sessions of the Legislature, for sure, I know what our requests were, and I know what other state agencies requested, and we came away as happy as we could be. We got a $60 million repair package a couple of years back, and $4.2 million in additional general revenue for state parks this last go 'round, plus voters just passed Proposition 8 [a constitutional amendment authorizing bonds for TPW and other agencies], which I think is a good indicator of support in a difficult time. So, we've managed to get a pretty good shake."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Parks and Wildlife, Robert L. Cook

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