Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Appropriation Rider for Local Park Grant Funding
August 27, 2009

I. Executive Summary: Staff will brief the Commission regarding appropriated funds approved by the 80th Legislature for Local Park Grants in the amount of $16,685,000 for matching funds to designated projects and sponsors. Projects will then be recommended for funding.

II. Discussion: The Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA) was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions of the state in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is generated from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods. The Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Appropriation Act approved for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contains an appropriation rider that reads as follows:

"Local Park Grants. Out of funds appropriated above in Strategy B.2.1, Local Park Grants, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) shall allocate up to $16,685,000 in matching funds for the following grants."

The list of 18 projects includes:

  • $ 1,400,000 in matching funds for grants to Texas zoos
  • $ 1,125,000 in matching funds for the City of Grey Forest - Frank Madla Park
  • $ 800,000 in matching funds for Rio Grande City - City Park

These entities have submitted the required application materials to receive consideration to receive the specified portion of the appropriation. A summary of each project is attached in Exhibits A and B. These projects are mandated expenditures by the Texas Legislature, and do not require competition with other grants. The City of Grey Forest does not have sufficient match to utilize the entire legislative earmark, so a lesser amount is recommended.

III. Zoo Grants: Included in the appropriation rider projects was a mandate for the allocation of $1,400,000 in matching funds for projects to benefit Texas zoos. To accomplish this mandate the staff developed a one-time program for competition for these funds, and solicited applications from Texas zoos. The funding criteria sought applications from nonprofit organizations and municipalities that operate zoos, and encourage projects that develop or renovate infrastructure that meet a recreation need, and zoo programs that educate visitors and provide recreation opportunities. The development grants are up to $250,000 in matching funds, and the program grants are up to $30,000. Ten grant applications were received requesting $1,542,942 in grant funds. Funding criteria include: Number of participants being served, environmental and conservation needs being addressed by the project, diversity of recreation opportunities provided, promotion of Texas native or endangered species, use of green building techniques, and providing for outdoor conservation experiences.

Since the total grant requests only exceed the mandated funds by $142,942, small reductions in requested funds are recommended for each project.

IV. Recommendation: Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"Funding for the special appropriations rider projects as listed in Exhibit A are approved."

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Project Summaries

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit A

Project Summaries
Zoo Projects

SPONSOR Abilene Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Development of a portion of a larger project known as the Elm Creek Back Yard Exhibit. Funds are requested for a portion of the costs of the exhibit interpretive center and cougar viewing platforms associated with the exhibit.
SPONSOR Amarillo Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Development of a 2,000 square foot education center focusing on Texas Panhandle wildlife with classroom, animal holding room and central exhibit room. The Zoo is also requesting programming funds for school programs that will allow the zoo to deliver educational and innovative environmental education programs to area students PreK through college. Programs include: Texas WILDS, Conserving Wild Treasures, Tales of Scales, Claws and Jaws, Tropical Rainforest and more.
SPONSOR Austin Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Develop a 1,256 foot trail for access to exhibits, replace 5 picnic tables and install interpretive signs to educate visitors about Texas native and endangered species.
SPONSOR Brownsville Gladys Porter Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Develop an abandoned railroad easement adjacent to the existing zoo into a native botanical park and play area. Facilities will include walking trails, misting pool, interactive playground, ground squirrel and Texas tortoise exhibit, native Texas turtle pond and aquatic plant exhibit, interpretive pavilion, butterfly propagation facility and educational graphics. The Zoo also requests programming funds for educational programs for school kids in the Rio Grande Valley to learn more about native fauna of south Texas with emphasis on threatened species, native Texas animal ambassadors, creating backyard exhibits, and water conservation.
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Develop a new raptor/large bird mew holding and training structure (515 square foot). Species include Golden and Bald eagles, falcons, Swainson hawks and Burrowing and Barn Owls. Programming funds are also requested by the Zoo for education about the Golden eagle. The Zoo also requests programming funds to be used to educate visitors on birds of prey and desert eco-systems.
SPONSOR Fort Worth Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Requesting programming funds to develop a curriculum and train the trainer program for a pilot program for citizen science monitoring and teacher training for three Texas native turtle species.
SPONSOR Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Redevelop an existing barn into the Children’s Animal Center, for visitor interaction and education focusing on native Texas animals, including Texas horned frog, Texas tortoise, Coatimundi and Attwater’s prairie chicken. Construct a new barn for animal care and management. Construction of a butterfly garden and trail, and nature walk.
SPONSOR Houston Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Funds for a small portion of the overall cost of a new African Forest exhibit. Funds will be used to assist in the vegetation of the exhibit with native Texas plants. The Zoo also requests programming funds to be used for students who will participate in hands on research in the Toad Tracker program. They will collect data (including weights, measurements, etc.), tag toads and conduct amphibian population monitoring.
SPONSOR San Antonio Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Demolition of an existing outdated seal exhibit, replacing with an amphitheatre for education of guests about native Texas wildlife.
SPONSOR Waco Cameron Park Zoo
PROPOSED ELEMENTS Develop a new 7,500 square foot pavilion with restrooms and food preparation area. The pavilion will provide group outdoor recreation opportunities at the zoo site. The Zoo also requests programming funds for 4th graders from Title 1 schools to learn about Texas animals, their ecosystems and how they can help conserve our natural resources. Programs will be conducted in the classrooms during the school year, summer school and summer camps.
SPONSOR City of Rio Grande City
LOCATION Rio Grande City, Starr County
PROPOSED ELEMENTS The City of Rio Grande City will acquire 18.623 acres of publicly-owned non-parkland located in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes lighted baseball fields, trail, playground, pavilions with picnic tables and grills, pavilion/restroom with picnic tables and grills, utilities, roads, parking, restroom/storage/concession building, fencing, walkways, and signs.
MATCH SOURCE The value of the publicly-owned non-parkland from the Rio Grande City CSD, and city funds.
SPONSOR City of Grey Forest
LOCATION Grey Forest, Bexar County
PROJECT NAME Senator Frank Madla, Jr. Natural Area
PROPOSED ELEMENTS The City of Grey Forest will acquire 42.1 acres by purchase/donation/conservation easement located in the northwest area of Bexar County. Proposed development includes entrance portal, pavilion, trails, council ring, picnic tables, cave gate, water well, drinking fountains, composting toilets, signage, volunteer/research station, rainwater catchment system, roads, and parking.
MATCH SOURCE In-house labor, private donation of land, cash, labor, equipment, and materials.