Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why It Matters: The continuation of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides a unique opportunity to discuss the important role that state fish and wildlife agencies play in the conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all citizens, including sportsmen and women. Given the laundry list of accomplishments that state fish and wildlife agencies have realized, combined with the conservation challenges that face us today, it is imperative that state fish and wildlife management agencies are not just allowed to continue their operations, but are empowered with the resources needed to achieve conservation successes now and into the future. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the role of Texas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Buckingham and Caucus Member Representative John Cyrier in sponsoring the legislation needed to continue the operations of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the benefit of all Texans.
On a rolling basis, Texas’ various state agencies are subject to a process referred to as “sunset” in which the agency’s operations are reviewed and the agency’s continuation is considered. Based on that review, the Texas State Legislature is tasked with developing and passing legislation, as needed, to continue the operations of the state agency under review. This year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is among the state agencies in need of renewal. Fortunately, Texas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Dawn Buckingham and Caucus Member Representative John Cyrier have sponsored legislation that would extend TPWD’s operations.
Senate Bill 700 (SB 700) and House Bill 1615 (HB 1615) would, among other things, extend TPWD’s operations through FY 2033. On April 19, SB 700 was passed unanimously by the Senate while HB 1615 was heard and considered in the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. While there is little opposition for either bill, this sunset review period presents an opportunity to discuss the important role that state fish and wildlife management agencies play in the conservation of our nation’s natural resources for the benefit of all citizens. In Texas, one of the most geographically and biologically diverse states in the nation, TPWD’s staff are charged with managing the Lone Star State’s fish and wildlife resources. Given the history of wildlife management efforts in Texas, coupled with the conservation challenge facing our nation, it is critical that agencies like TPWD are not just permitted to continue their operations, but are equipped with the resources needed to successfully manage the state’s resources for the benefit of all Texans.
On Monday, April 19, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation shared a letter of support for both SB 700 and HB 1615 with members of the Texas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. In the letter, CSF reiterated our view that TPWD is an essential agency in Texas and is the entity best equipped to make science-based wildlife management decisions at the state level. All eyes are now on the Texas House of Representatives where both HB 1615 and SB 700 await further consideration.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?