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From the Pen of Carter P. Smith

As a bunch, they help tell the life, history and stories of our great state. Within their boundaries are some of our most sacred soils and our most scenic places. They are tucked away in all corners of the state and plenty of points in between. For generations, they have served to bring families together in settings near and far, high and low, on the land and around the water, to make memories and experiences aplenty.

A point worth noting is that they are yours, all of them.

I am talking, of course, about your state park system, a collection of 95 state parks, historic sites and natural areas that we have the privilege of stewarding on your behalf. Suffice to say, there is much to do, discover, love and learn amidst them. And, this year, our eminently creative and engaging team of storytellers is going to tell our readers all about them as we celebrate the Year of State Parks in the pages of this magazine.

Why a whole year, you may ask? Well, as Dale Blasingame writes so personally and so compellingly in his article about visiting them all, “One Is Not Enough,” you simply can’t do justice to the diversity and majesty of your state parks through one, or even several, visits. From the grand Battleship Texas that fought valiantly in two world wars to the grandest of Texas canyons at Palo Duro to the great Big Tree at Goose Island to the granite dome at Enchanted Rock, all of the sites offer a unique and enriching visitor experience that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere.    

Another reason is that we have much to celebrate in the realm of your parks. During the 84th legislative session, landmark legislation in the form of HB 158, sponsored by Rep. Lyle Larson and Sen. Craig Estes and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, fully dedicated 94 percent of the proceeds from the sales tax collected from the sale of sporting goods to state and local parks. That outcome was the result of the Herculean efforts of many dedicated park enthusiasts over many years. The legislation offers a measure of predictability and certainty in funding to a park system that needs it badly.

While you are reading about the parks, I trust you will enjoy the redesign of another iconic feature of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department — the magazine you are holding in your hands! Our creative team at the magazine has been working diligently over the last year to come up with a new and improved look for a publication that has served Texas’ outdoor enthusiasts proudly for more than 70 years. I hope you enjoy the latest look as much as I do.

J. Frank Dobie famously reminded us that “Great literature transcends its native land, but none that I know of ignores its soil.” All of us at TPWD take that admonition to heart. We are proud to play a part in helping to steward and share some of the best of our home ground, for generations now and to come.

Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.

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