TPWD News Release — April 10, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas — About $18 million in bond funding for critical repairs to Texas state parks, wildlife management areas, fish hatcheries has been approved, the latest installment of about $101 million in Proposition 8 bond funding approved by Texas voters in 2001.
The Texas Legislature approved debt service funding for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the last legislative session to cover issuance of the latest $18 million round of Prop 8 bonds. This had been a top priority legislative request from the department.
Steve Whiston, TPWD Infrastructure Division director, told the TPW Commission April 5 that an important part of the latest Prop 8 bond package would pay to repair 11 sites damaged by Hurricane Rita, which ripped through East Texas in September 2005. The estimated cost of repairs needed is $3.1 million.
The department is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recover the costs for repairs at TPWD facilities. Prop 8 funds will be used to pay for these repairs up front, with hopes to receive FEMA reimbursement later.
So far, FEMA has approved projects and determined them eligible for reimbursement at Martin Dies Jr. State Park, Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Pass Battleground State Park and Historic Site, Village Creek State Park, Lake Livingston State Park, Lake Houston State Park (currently being transferred to the City of Houston), Mission Tejas State Park and the Jasper Fish Hatchery.
FEMA approval is still pending for TPWD funding requests to repair three wildlife management areas hit by Rita, including J.D. Murphree WMA, Lower Neches WMA, and Tony Houseman WMA.
Whiston also updated commissioners on progress to date with Prop 8 funding. In 2003, TPWD got the first $36.6 million issue of Prop 8 bond money. This funded 118 repair projects at state parks, wildlife and fisheries sites statewide, including many big-ticket water-wastewater systems, almost all of which are now complete. As projects have been finished, savings accumulated that allowed TPWD to add another 19 repair projects funded by the 2003 issued bonds, some of which are ongoing.
In the original Prop 8 legislation, five specific state park sites were earmarked for renovation or improvements, including the San Jacinto Battleground, Battleship TEXAS, Admiral Nimitz Museum (transferred earlier this year from the state park system to the Texas Historical Commission), Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center at Sheldon Lake State Park, and Levi-Jordan Plantation.
For 2004/2005, TPWD sought but was unable to obtain debt service funding to issue Prop 8 bonds.
For the current 2006/2007 biennium, the department is moving ahead with the latest $18 million bond package.
For 2008/2009, TPWD will seek legislative support for debt service to fund the remaining approximately $46 million in Prop 8 bonds, including additional bond funding for critical statewide repairs.
Below is the list of 37 sites where repair projects will be funded beginning this year with the current round of $18 million in newly approved Prop 8 bonds.