2024 Land and Water Plan

Texas Parks and Wildlife Code section 11.104 requires Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to prepare the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, which serves as the strategic visionary document to guide TPWD’s mission to conserve land and water resources and to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for all Texans over a 10-year planning horizon. The Plan, originally developed in 2002, includes criteria for determining how to meet the state’s conservation and recreation needs as well as measures for evaluating TPWD’s effectiveness in meeting the Plan’s goal and objectives, and TPWD must evaluate its progress in meeting those goals and objectives every five years. As part of this evaluation process, TPWD shares progress updates with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) at Commission meetings and assembles a comprehensive progress report every five years. TPWD’s efforts are also overseen by the Commission’s Conservation and Recreation Planning Subcommittee, which provides guidance on Plan revisions and reviews TPWD’s progress toward Plan goals.

Plan Goals, Objectives, Strategies, And Actions

Goal 1

Practice, encourage, and enable science-based conservation and stewardship of natural and cultural resources.

Objective 1

Be an exemplary steward of the public’s lands and waters by using the best available science for ecosystem-based management.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 1:

  • Strategy 1.1 – Conserve and sustainably manage important recreational and commercial fish and wildlife resources using the best available science.
  • Strategy 1.2 – Manage landscapes and watersheds holistically, in cooperation with public and private landowners, to restore and preserve fish and wildlife species, habitats, and ecosystems.
  • Strategy 1.3 – Partner with regional conservation organizations, including bird joint ventures and fish habitat partnerships, to collectively pursue regional objectives in restoring, enhancing, and preserving habitats for fish and wildlife.
  • Strategy 1.4 – Develop and implement strategies to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species, wildlife diseases, and other threats to native species and ecosystems.

Actions to Achieve Objective 1:

  • Action 1.1 – Conduct 12,000 surveys annually to assess population trends of recreationally and commercially important species and their habitats.
  • Action 1.2 – Perform 1,500 project-based consultations annually, through state and federal regulatory processes, to inform the conservation of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Action 1.3 – Create and publish maps of subtidal habitats in one bay every three years.
  • Action 1.4 – Restore 10 acres of degraded and lost oyster habitats annually to contribute to the sustainability of the oyster fishery and resilience of Texas estuaries.
  • Action 1.5 – Design, plan, and implement 25 aquatic habitat restoration or enhancement projects annually in Texas creeks, rivers, and lakes.
  • Action 1.6 – Manage 15,000 acres of aquatic invasive or nuisance vegetation annually on Texas lakes to enhance fish habitat and fishing access.
  • Action 1.7 – Stock 41 million fish fingerlings annually in Texas public waters.
  • Action 1.8 – Support 30 public leased fishing access areas annually on Texas creeks and rivers.
  • Action 1.9 – Provide 1,425,000 acres of Texas land annually for public hunting.
  • Action 1.10 – Dedicate 17,000 hours of staff time annually to the management of aquatic invasive species.
  • Action 1.11 – Fulfill statewide sampling goals for surveillance of Chronic Wasting Disease.
  • Action 1.12 – Perform 100 fish kill or fish health investigations annually.

Objective 2

Provide technical assistance, scientific tools, and strategies to restore and protect healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 2:

  • Strategy 2.1 – Provide technical expertise and data to federal, state, and local agencies to assist in improving water quality and quantity for fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 2.2 – Collaborate with public and private entities to integrate planning and management of groundwater, spring, stream, wetland, estuarine, and marine ecosystems.
  • Strategy 2.3 – Perform studies and contribute to the development of hydraulic models and other scientific tools that increase understanding of groundwater and surface water connections.
  • Strategy 2.4 – Provide technical guidance, planning assistance, and financial incentives to restore and maintain appropriate watershed and hydrologic conditions.
  • Strategy 2.5 – Participate in statewide and regional water planning, flood planning, water management, and water permitting processes to help address the needs of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 2.6 – Provide input, including through stakeholder processes, to ensure Texas Surface Water Quality Standards increasingly incorporate biological data to protect the health and productivity of Texas waters.
  • Strategy 2.7 – Foster the restoration and protection of healthy aquatic ecosystems by promoting and facilitating the voluntary transfer of water rights to the Texas Water Trust or a suitable non-profit water trust.
  • Strategy 2.8 – Provide trainings for internal and external users on application of the TPWD Environmental Flow Information Toolkit as a decision support tool to inform voluntary water transactions.
  • Strategy 2.9 – Provide technical expertise and data to inform adaptive management decisions made by expert science teams, stakeholder committees, and state agencies in the development or revision of environmental flow standards and strategies to meet standards.

Actions to Achieve Objective 2:

  • Action 2.1 – Contribute to the 2027 and 2032 State Water Plans and associated regional water plans by providing technical input on instream flow, water level, freshwater inflow, and water quality needs of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Action 2.2 – Update the statewide assessment of ecologically significant stream segments by 2028.
  • Action 2.3 – Facilitate eight voluntary environmental water transactions, flow agreements, or water level agreements by 2033 that focus on conserving fish and wildlife resources and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Action 2.4 – Provide technical input into the 2024 and 2029 State Flood Plans and associated regional flood plans, focusing on nature-based solutions, floodplain maintenance, and riparian and riverine floodplain ecosystem health.
  • Action 2.5 – Provide technical input into the triennial reviews of the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards to enhance protection of fish and wildlife resources.

Objective 3

Maintain, restore, and protect healthy ecosystems on public lands.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 3:

  • Strategy 3.1 – Seek opportunities to create new state parks of high biological and recreational value near urban and suburban centers.
  • Strategy 3.2 – Inventory conservation, recreation, and historic properties to identify gaps in representation and protection.
  • Strategy 3.3 – Expand existing or acquire additional wildlife management areas in underrepresented ecological regions for habitat management, conservation demonstration, public hunting, and other public outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Strategy 3.4 – Coordinate with federal, state, and local land and water management agencies to sustainably manage public lands and waters for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 3.5 – Focus conservation efforts towards ecologically significant landscapes, including priority watersheds, aquifer recharge zones, wildlife corridors, and migratory bird flyways, to maximize on-the-ground impact.
  • Strategy 3.6 – Publish, disseminate, and promote guidelines and protocols for habitat restoration and management.
  • Strategy 3.7 – Manage invasive, non-native, and feral species populations on TPWD lands to minimize impacts.

Actions to Achieve Objective 3:

  • Action 3.1 – Develop a State Park Land Acquisition Strategy by 2025 that prioritizes land acquisition decisions based on biological value and recreational need.
  • Action 3.2 – Implement 14 cooperative agreements with federal and state agencies to manage wildlife habitats and provide hunting opportunities on public lands.

Objective 4

Foster conservation of healthy ecosystems on private lands.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 4:

  • Strategy 4.1 – Increase the number of wildlife cooperatives and landowner conservation networks focused on conservation of fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Strategy 4.2 – Incorporate watershed management goals and holistic management strategies for upland, riparian, and aquatic habitats into wildlife management plans.
  • Strategy 4.3 – Educate landowners, wildlife cooperatives, and nongovernmental organizations about management options, funding opportunities, and incentive-based programs aimed at achieving conservation goals.
  • Strategy 4.4 – Encourage landowners to cooperatively establish or enroll in conservation agreements to preserve intact, contiguous habitats and wildlife corridors.
  • Strategy 4.5 – Provide technical guidance on wildlife and habitat management, watershed management, and control of invasive, non-native, and feral species.
  • Strategy 4.6 – Provide technical guidance and recommendations on conservation practices and priority landscapes eligible for financial assistance through U.S. Farm Bill conservation programs.
  • Strategy 4.7 – Use wildlife management areas for research and to demonstrate recommended conservation and land management practices to private landowners. 
  • Strategy 4.8 – Educate private landowners on the economic benefits of conservation.
  • Strategy 4.9 – Promote watershed and range management practices that improve ground and surface water quality and quantity.
  • Strategy 4.10 – Provide technical guidance, including incentive-based strategies, for protecting and managing habitats for rare and priority species.
  • Strategy 4.11 – Share information with landowners on the value of historical and cultural resources.

Actions to Achieve Objective 4:

  • Action 4.1 – Collaborate with the Texas land trust community and cooperating landowners using conservation easements to protect an additional 56,000 acres of private working lands by 2033.
  • Action 4.2 – Implement and maintain TPWD-approved wildlife management agreements on 20% of the total land acreage of Texas.
  • Action 4.3 – Enhance the scope and functionality of the Land Management Assistance system to allow the tracking and reporting of TPWD’s cost-share programs (including the number of participating properties and acreage restored or improved) by 2025.
  • Action 4.4 – Maintain the Texas Ecosystem Analytical Mapper Tool to enable access to data and information on vegetation communities and inform the management and conservation of fish and wildlife habitats.

Objective 5

Maintain the highest level of scientific validity and credibility.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 5:

  • Strategy 5.1 – Conduct, support, and disseminate peer-reviewed research to ensure the science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 5.2 – Establish procedures that ensure all formal research follows the scientific method including the use of peer-review throughout the process to yield useful and credible findings.
  • Strategy 5.3 – Ensure study designs are rigorous and adequate to yield stated objectives.
  • Strategy 5.4 – Obtain technical training, pursue competitive research grants, and secure necessary resources to conduct innovative scientific research.
  • Strategy 5.5 – Disseminate research findings through technical presentations at professional conferences and through publication in peer-reviewed reports and journals.
  • Strategy 5.6 – Conduct periodic reviews of standard protocols, including fish and wildlife resource monitoring, to ensure internal use of the best scientific methods.
  • Strategy 5.7 – Develop position papers explaining the scientific basis for TPWD’s perspectives and approaches.
  • Strategy 5.8 – Maintain lists of research needs and peer-reviewed publications for priority species, habitats, and ecosystems.

Actions to Achieve Objective 5:

  • Action 5.1 – Conduct or collaborate on 70 applied research projects annually to inform the management and conservation of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Action 5.2 – Host 10 science events (e.g., virtual webinars, workshops) annually to facilitate information-sharing among TPWD scientists, external cooperators, stakeholders, and the public.

Objective 6

Restore, recover, and protect Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including state and federally listed species.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 6:

  • Strategy 6.1 – Coordinate delivery of priority conservation actions identified for Species of Greatest Conservation Need within the State Wildlife Action Plan for Texas.
  • Strategy 6.2 – Cooperate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to implement conservation actions for federally listed species identified in conservation agreements and recovery plans.
  • Strategy 6.3 – Review best available science, conduct applied research to fill knowledge gaps, and periodically reassess the listing status of State Threatened species, State Endangered species, and Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

Actions to Achieve Objective 6:

  • Action 6.1 – Reassess the conservation status of 25 Species of Greatest Conservation Need annually.
  • Action 6.2 – Review the best available science and update the lists of Species of Greatest Conservation Need, State Threatened species, and State Endangered species at least every five years.
  • Action 6.3 – Expand or restore the occupied range of five Species of Greatest Conservation Need by 2028 through repatriation, habitat restoration, and other conservation actions.
  • Action 6.4 – Perform a statewide assessment and prioritization of Conservation Opportunity Areas by 2026 to identify and focus conservation efforts on landscapes important to Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

Objective 7

Establish and enforce regulations to conserve fish and wildlife resources.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 7:

  • Strategy 7.1 – Provide a comprehensive law enforcement program that strategically enhances public awareness, understanding, and support of the TPWD mission.
  • Strategy 7.2 – Using the best available science and human dimensions data, provide recommendations to policymakers that encourage legal, sustainable, and ethical use of natural resources.
  • Strategy 7.3 – Coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies to combat environmental crimes.
  • Strategy 7.4 – Educate and work collaboratively with businesses and industry to achieve compliance with natural resource regulations.
  • Strategy 7.5 – Promote Operation Game Thief to curb illegal exploitation of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 7.6 – Elevate voluntary compliance levels of licensees, permittees, and the general public through interactions with hunters, anglers, and other natural resources users.
  • Strategy 7.7 – Implement, strengthen, and enforce regulations that prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species, wildlife diseases, and other threats to native species and ecosystems.

Actions to Achieve Objective 7:

  • Action 7.1 – Dedicate 500,000 hours annually to educate the public and enforce fisheries and wildlife rules and regulations.
  • Action 7.2 – Dedicate 165,000 hours annually to educate the public and enforce water safety rules and regulations.
  • Action 7.3 – Perform a comprehensive gap analysis by 2028 of laws, regulations, and enforcement strategies needed to conserve fish and wildlife habitats on public lands, public freshwaters including state-owned streambeds, and Texas tidal waters including state-owned submerged lands.
  • Action 7.4 – Perform a comprehensive gap analysis by 2028 of laws, regulations, and enforcement strategies needed to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.
  • Action 7.5 – Perform a comprehensive gap analysis by 2033 of laws, regulations, and enforcement strategies needed to prevent the introduction and spread of terrestrial invasive plant and wildlife species.

Objective 8

Protect and interpret cultural resources.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 8:

  • Strategy 8.1 – Expand efforts to connect visitors with the cultural heritage of Texas.
  • Strategy 8.2 – Coordinate with the Texas Historical Commission on activities that protect and promote historic sites.
  • Strategy 8.3 – Implement archeological site-monitoring plans using best preservation practices and standards.
  • Strategy 8.4 – Develop training for TPWD site staff on the identification and protection of archeological and historic resources on public lands.
  • Strategy 8.5 – Document and mitigate impacts to cultural resources in all planning activities on TPWD sites.
  • Strategy 8.6 – Cooperate with federal and state agencies and tribes to protect cultural resources on relevant TPWD properties and projects.

Actions to Achieve Objective 8:

  • Action 8.1 – Assemble a Cultural Resource Inventory Strategy for Texas State Parks by 2025 that prioritizes locations for which to conduct inventories and publish cultural resource reports.
  • Action 8.2 – Conduct five cultural resource inventories on state park sites by 2028.
  • Action 8.3 – Provide six training courses annually for relevant TPWD personnel on the identification and protection of archeological and historic resources on public lands.
  • Action 8.4 – Review 200 project planning proposals annually to address impacts to cultural resources on TPWD sites.
  • Action 8.5 – Assemble six new archeological site monitoring plans annually.
  • Action 8.6 – Install 18 interpretive exhibits at state parks focused on cultural heritage by 2028.

Objective 9

Anticipate and plan for emerging conservation issues.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 9:

  • Strategy 9.1 – Engage in international, national, state, and regional scientific forums to identify and address emerging issues.
  • Strategy 9.2 – Develop and implement climate adaptation strategies to enhance ecosystem resiliency and mitigate anticipated impacts to fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 9.3 – Evaluate and provide technical input to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife resources from energy, utility, and fuel technology projects.

Goal 2

Increase access to and participation in the outdoors.

Objective 10

Provide a variety of high-quality, nature-oriented outdoor recreational opportunities on TPWD sites.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 10:

  • Strategy 10.1 – Increase public fishing and hunting opportunities.
  • Strategy 10.2 – Provide diverse outdoor recreational opportunities (e.g., urban and suburban programs, paddling trails, backcountry camping).
  • Strategy 10.3 – Expand outdoor programs for Texas youth.
  • Strategy 10.4 – Construct and maintain facilities and amenities that broaden access to the outdoors, protect natural resources, and enhance the quality of experiences for people of all ages, abilities, and interests.
  • Strategy 10.5 – Optimize visitation and visitor experience while protecting natural and cultural resources.
  • Strategy 10.6 – Increase public awareness of recreational opportunities at TPWD sites.
  • Strategy 10.7 – Increase compatible recreational opportunities and programs at wildlife management areas.
  • Strategy 10.8 – Manage public lands and waters for sustainable use and enjoyment compatible with TPWD conservation goals.
  • Strategy 10.9 – Expand and enhance state park sites by acquiring inholdings and adjacent tracts from willing donors and sellers.
  • Strategy 10.10 – Use the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, the Statewide Inventory, and the Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan to inform land acquisitions and other strategies for expanding public outdoor recreation.

Actions to Achieve Objective 10:

  • Action 10.1 – Facilitate 31.5 million paid state park visits by 2028.
  • Action 10.2 – Provide fishing opportunities and related outreach to 30,000 visitors annually at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
  • Action 10.3 – Construct 65 miles of trails on state park sites by 2033.
  • Action 10.4 – Provide outdoor programs at TPWD sites reaching 226,000 youth annually.
  • Action 10.5 – Add 82,000 acres to the state park system by 2033.
  • Action 10.6 – Acquire and initiate development on five additional properties to add to the state park system by 2033.
  • Action 10.7 – Coordinate with federal, state, and local land management agencies to plan, construct, and provide access to five state park sites currently owned by the state park system by 2033.
  • Action 10.8 – Increase the amount of state park acreage within a 60-mile radius of the Texas Triangle by five percent by 2033.

Objective 11

Encourage people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to experience the outdoors.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 11:

  • Strategy 11.1 – Provide education certification programs for hunters and boaters.
  • Strategy 11.2 – Conduct outreach activities and events targeted specifically for underrepresented communities.
  • Strategy 11.3 – Engage underserved populations through multilingual programs by using translation services that connect TPWD programs to expanded audiences.
  • Strategy 11.4 – Collaborate with organizations that serve Texans with disabilities in delivering TPWD outdoor recreation and education programs.
  • Strategy 11.5 – Enhance inclusivity by offering accessibility accommodations for outdoor programs and activities.
  • Strategy 11.6 – Expand Texas Outdoor Family program offerings.
  • Strategy 11.7 – Develop and implement programs that encourage children to connect with and experience nature.
  • Strategy 11.8 – Offer recreational workshops that physically engage participants in outdoor activities.
  • Strategy 11.9 – Encourage engagement in TPWD programs by fostering partnerships with education-focused non-profit organizations.
  • Strategy 11.10 – Develop and expand digital content and services that encourage the public to experience the outdoors.
  • Strategy 11.11 – Inventory and prioritize projects to enhance accessibility at TPWD sites.
  • Strategy 11.12 – Include accessibility information in all program descriptions.
  • Strategy 11.13 – Post accessibility information for each public site on the relevant TPWD web pages.

Actions to Achieve Objective 11:

  • Action 11.1 – Update the Texas R3 Strategic Plan by 2026 to recruit, retain, and reactivate anglers, boaters, hunters, and target shooters.
  • Action 11.2 – Certify 60,000 students annually in hunter education.
  • Action 11.3 – Certify 30,000 students annually in boater education.
  • Action 11.4 – Reach 400,000 Texans annually through delivery of angler education, aquatic education, shooting sports, and other outreach and education programs.
  • Action 11.5 – Introduce 2,000 Texans to camping annually through Texas Outdoor Family workshops.
  • Action 11.6 – Increase fishing participation annually by 2%.
  • Action 11.7 – Increase hunting participation annually by 1%.

Objective 12

Encourage nature and heritage tourism.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 12:

  • Strategy 12.1 – Collaborate with public and private organizations to identify and implement creative strategies for promoting nature and heritage tourism.
  • Strategy 12.2 – Assist local communities and private landowners in developing economically viable recreational venues for activities such as wildlife watching, stargazing, photo safaris, camping, and other nature-based recreation.
  • Strategy 12.3 – Partner with public and private organizations to establish and promote natural and cultural areas and trails.
  • Strategy 12.4 – Market TPWD sites as nature and heritage tourism destinations.
  • Strategy 12.5 – Promote TPWD’s nature tourism and wildlife viewing information and resources through the Texas Travel Alliance and Texas State Agency Tourism Council.

Actions to Achieve Objective 12:

  • Action 12.1 – Expand email subscriber lists for nature tourism programs annually by 10% through effective management, promotion, and targeted communication efforts.
  • Action 12.2 – Maintain the 79 existing Texas Paddling Trails for access to paddling, fishing, and wildlife viewing on rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal areas through 2028.
  • Action 12.3 – Increase Texas Paddling Trails by 150 miles by 2028.
  • Action 12.4 – Ensure 100 new miles of paddling trails are located within 60 miles of urban centers.
  • Action 12.5 – Engage Texas Master Naturalist volunteers in annual site visits to help promote and update information for at least 33% of all Great Texas Wildlife Trails sites by 2028.
  • Action 12.6 – Update the Great Texas Wildlife Trails website twice annually to ensure updated information on nature tourism destinations is provided to the public online.
  • Action 12.7 – Increase the registered number of Great Texas Birding Classic teams to 240 by 2028.

Goal 3

Educate, inform, and engage Texans in support of conservation and recreation.

Objective 13

Cultivate support for the conservation of natural and cultural resources.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 13:

  • Strategy 13.1 – Lead efforts to encourage Texans to protect natural and cultural resources.
  • Strategy 13.2 – Advance public awareness and understanding of the significance and benefits of well-managed lands and waters.
  • Strategy 13.3 – Promote land and water management practices that benefit fish and wildlife resources.
  • Strategy 13.4 – Increase public awareness of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and related contributions made by hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts through user fees and license purchases.
  • Strategy 13.5 – Conduct demonstration projects and host field days to promote the benefits of restoring native habitats.
  • Strategy 13.6 – Encourage participation in TPWD volunteerism programs (e.g., Texas Master Naturalists, Texas Nature Trackers) in support of natural and cultural resources conservation.
  • Strategy 13.7 – Demonstrate the benefits of rainwater harvesting, renewable energy, and other green technologies.
  • Strategy 13.8 – Develop a communication approach that prioritizes multilingual and accessible resources to engage and serve all constituents effectively.
  • Strategy 13.9 – Post information at each TPWD site regarding its acquisition, mission, purpose, rules, and recreational opportunities.
  • Strategy 13.10 – Promote the enjoyable, responsible, and ethical use of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
  • Strategy 13.11 – Collaborate with classroom educators and health and physical education instructors to advocate for a lifelong interest in outdoor recreational activities.
  • Strategy 13.12 – Expand the availability of training and curriculum tools to educators and conservation partners.

Actions to Achieve Objective 13:

  • Action 13.1 – Conduct 800 presentations and consultations annually for the public focused on the management and conservation of fish and wildlife resources.
  • Action 13.2 – Conduct a Hunting for Conservation workshop annually to grow advocates for hunting and wildlife conservation.
  • Action 13.3 – Conduct a Fishing for Conservation workshop annually to grow advocates for fishing and aquatic resources conservation.

Objective 14

Increase awareness of the value of urban and suburban ecosystems.

Strategies to Achieve Objective 14:

  • Strategy 14.1 – Provide technical guidance and planning assistance to municipalities, developers, and the public on the conservation of urban and suburban ecosystems.
  • Strategy 14.2 – Collaborate with local governments to manage and conserve green space, watersheds, aquifer recharge zones, and parklands.
  • Strategy 14.3 – Explore new ways to involve urban and suburban residents in outdoor activities.
  • Strategy 14.4 – Provide technical guidance and materials to urban and suburban audiences on coexisting with wildlife.
  • Strategy 14.5 – Increase awareness and engagement by urban and suburban audiences in TPWD conservation and outdoor recreation programs.

Actions to Achieve Objective 14:

  • Action 14.1 – Support 18 high-use urban fishing sites annually through the Neighborhood Fishin’ Program.
  • Action 14.2 – Complete 30 local park construction projects annually supported through the Recreation Grants Program.
  • Action 14.3 – Produce and disseminate seven videos annually that provide technical guidance to the public on urban and suburban wildlife topics.