Legislation Filed: Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Watershed Association proudly supports the recently filed legislation (HB 3165, HJR 138, SB 2485) to create a much-needed statewide Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Staff joined dozens of partner organizations through Texas Land Trust Council’s Advocacy Day at the State Capital on March 1.  The partners were able to meet with Senators and Representatives for their area and brief them on research, need, and support for a Texas State Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Watershed Association staff met with staffers and legislators in Senator Judith Zaffarini, Representative Carrie Isaac, and Representative Josey Garcia’s offices.

Key points about the Conservation Fund:

    • Texas is home to 7 of the top 15 most rapidly growing cities in the country and currently leads the nation in the loss of rural working lands to development, losing over 240,000 acres a year.
    • Research also shows that 78% of Texas counties will not have sufficient parks in the coming decades.
    • Texas needs additional parks, open spaces, and natural habitats to preserve our quality of life, provide food and fiber, clean water, and to support the multi-billion-dollar agricultural and outdoor recreation economy.
    • Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund (TLWCF) would provide a significant, long-term state funding source for enhanced conservation efforts across the Lone Star State.
    • The TLWCF would provide grants for projects that support, enhance, and protect state and local parks and recreation areas, working agricultural lands and water resources, wildlife habitat areas, and more.

Conversations with staffers and legislators show wide, bipartisan support for the Conservation Fund.  Recent polling shows that 83% of Texans would support the dedication of state revenue to establishing a state conservation fund.

With excess dollars in the Economic Stabilization Fund (often referred to as the Rainy Day Fund), Texas Legislators have a once in a generation opportunity to act now to constitutionally dedicate $2 billion to the TLWCF. The TLWCF can be dedicated as either a trust fund or an endowment, thus funding meaningful land and water conservation into the state’s future.