NEW LEGISLATION COULD PUT HISTORIC LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND ON THE BALLOT
March 6, 2023
The fund, supported by 83% of Texans, would provide critical funding opportunities for parks, agricultural lands, wildlife, and water resources.
AUSTIN — State Representative Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) has filed HB 3165 and HJR 138 to create the Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect our natural resources and expand access to public parks across Texas. This comes as the state is losing over 240,000 acres of agricultural and ranch lands a year to development, and the demand for state and local parks continues to increase as the state’s population continues to grow. The Fund could support the acquisition of land to expand state parks.
“As a lifelong outdoorsman, I have always had the greatest respect for the vast open spaces across Texas, and everything our state has to offer,” said Representative Holland. “Not only are these lands meant to be enjoyed by Texans, but they work every day to provide the food we eat and the water we drink. We must take bold steps to preserve the landscape and culture that makes Texas a great place to live. I consider it our responsibility as Texans and custodians of this land to pass on a state to our future generations for the next 100 years—that my great-great grandchildren would be able to enjoy the Texas outdoors parks, wildlife and nature.”
This legislation has the backing of over 50 of the state’s leading land and water conservation, agricultural, wildlife, and sportsmen’s organizations who have come together to form the Texas Land and Water Conservation Coalition. These groups represent thousands of Texans from all walks of life, connected by a desire to protect Texas for the next generation. A full listing of the organizations follows.
HJR 138 provides a constitutional dedication from the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly known as the “Rainy Day Fund” to establish the Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund. With an historic surplus, Texas legislators have a once in a generation opportunity to act now to constitutionally dedicate $2 billion to create this historic Fund.
HB 3165 creates a governing board that would be led by the General Land Office and include Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, and Texas Water Development Board. Through the established conservation fund, the board would provide grants for existing programs and projects that would preserve our water resources, agricultural lands, and wildlife habitats and provide additional outdoor recreational opportunities for all Texans.
The bill provides base eligibility guidelines for projects and ensures that 50% of the funds go toward the conservation of agricultural lands, water resources, and wildlife habitat, and 50% of the funds go toward state and local parks, wildlife management areas, and other public access conservation projects.
HJR 138 would put the Fund on the November ballot, allowing Texas voters to dedicate these funds to protect and preserve the Texas landscape. Recent polling shows that 83% of potential voters support ballot language for the Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Audubon Texas | Bayou Land Conservancy | Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust | Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust | Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program | Coastal Conservation Association – Texas | Coastal Prairie Conservancy | Colorado River Land Trust | Connemara Conservancy | Conservation Force | Ducks Unlimited | Edwards Aquifer Authority | Environment Texas |Environmental Defense Fund | Fair Park First | Frontera Land Alliance | Galveston Bay Foundation | Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance | Green Spaces Alliance | Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust | Hill Country Alliance | Hill Country Conservancy | Houston Audubon |Houston Wilderness |Klyde Warren Park | National Parks Conservation Association | National Wildlife Federation | Native Prairies Association of Texas | Pines & Prairies Land Trust | San Marcos River Foundation | Scenic Galveston | Sierra Club – Lone Star Chapter | Southern Gateway |Texan by Nature | Texas Agricultural Land Trust | Texas Cave Management Association | Texas Children in Nature Network | Texas Conservation Alliance | Texas Foundation for Conservation |Texas Land Conservancy |Texas Land Trust Council | Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation | Texas Recreation and Park Society | Texas Wildlife Association | The American Farmland Trust | The Conservation Fund | The Cradle of Texas Conservancy | The Nature Conservancy | The Valley Land Fund | The Watershed Association | The Wildlife Society – Texas Chapter | Travis Audubon | TREAD Coalition | Trinity Park Conservancy | Trust for Public Land | Upper Trinity Conservation Trust | Wilbarger Creek Conservation Alliance