Agency History

TPWD Activities and History

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides outdoor recreational opportunities by managing and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat and acquiring and managing parklands and historic areas. It has inherited the functions of many state entities created to protect Texas' natural resources. In 1895 the legislature created the Fish and Oyster Commission to regulate fishing. The Game Department was added to the commission in 1907. The State Parks Board was created as a separate entity in 1923. In the 1930s, projects of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps added substantially to the state's parklands. In 1951, the term oyster was dropped from the wildlife agency's name, and in 1963, the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission were merged to form the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The legislature placed authority for managing fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department when it passed the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1983. Previously, commissioners courts had set game and fish laws in many counties, and other counties had veto power over department regulations.

Texas State Library and Archives (TSLAC) has provided a web exhibit called "To Love the Beautiful: The Story of Texas State Parks." This exhibit includes numerous documents and images from the Texas State Archives, and tells the story of the early days of the Texas State Parks Board, how the early state parks were created in the throes of the Great Depression, how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department came to be, and how the Texas state parks system evolved into the one we know today.

Currently, the agency has 13 internal divisions: Executive, Wildlife, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement, State Parks, Infrastructure, Legal, Financial Resources, Communications, Human Resources, Support Resources, and Information Technology. The Chief Operating Officer provides special counsel to the executive director in the areas of operations and administrative matters. Intergovernmental affairs as well as internal audit and investigations are administered through the Executive Office.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department History: 1963-2003