By Carter Smith
As the official nonprofit partner of our department, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation advances a compelling mission and an unwavering purpose — the sense and sentiment that taking care of our lands, waters, fish, wildlife and parks matters to us all, now and forever.
Since its launch more than 25 years ago, the foundation’s stated vision has embodied, and amplified, a pretty fundamental notion — that all Texans will have access to the wild things and wild places in our state for generations to come.
In the conservation space — and arguably the public and political ones, too — it is the rarest of the proverbial big tents still left standing. It is a space that transcends party and politics, city and town, ideology and demography, profession and person.
Within its supporters can be found private rights advocates and public lands defenders, big-game hunters and big-list bird watchers, ardent nature enthusiasts and economic developers, big-city dwellers and rural ranchers, and progressive leaners and conservative thinkers. Pick your label, and you’ll find someone there among them.
What really counts to those who have embraced the foundation over the years is a deep and abiding concern for this place we call home. Quite simply, its calling speaks to the very heart of who we are as Texans and what we love about our home ground and the people and places and fish and wildlife that occupy it.
Over the years, the organization’s impact has been both generational in scope and expansive in scale. Thanks to the power of philanthropy originally imagined by both Governors Bill Clements (see Page 48) and Ann Richards, who played roles in launching it, the foundation has quietly attracted and harnessed a deep spirit of generosity among its many supporters. The commonality is found in those who still believe that wildness matters deeply to Texas and to Texans, that untold riches and rewards exist for kids in experiences within nature, that parks should be acquired for a growing public, and that private lands must be respected and conserved for their intrinsic natural values, both seen and unseen.
The foundation has more than put its money where its mission is, funding worthy conservation and recreation projects that likely otherwise would have sat idle were it not for the considerable passions of supporters. With programs such as getting more kids and families into nature, expanding the state park and wildlife management area systems, rebuilding oyster reefs along the coast, restoring pronghorn antelope in Trans-Pecos grasslands, helping “gear up” our game wardens and combating aquatic invasives, the foundation has invested mightily and purposefully in things that matter to outdoor enthusiasts.
As the foundation looks forward to its next 25 years of both doing “well” and doing “good” for conservation, it has launched a new public awareness campaign: “We Will Not Be Tamed.” In partnership with a host of other well-known and iconic Texas brands, the foundation will encourage all Texans to appreciate the wildness of our state, the vastness of our spirit and the will to conserve what makes our state so special. Featuring the stories of a diverse collection of outdoor enthusiasts who cherish their time afield paddling in kayaks or casting fly rods, chasing quail or hiking and biking the trails, this campaign will bring to life many of the reasons not only to enjoy the outdoors, but to invest in conserving them as well.
So, as you peruse the pages following this one, taking in stories and pictures about bass tournaments and Bill Clements, Llano and Lockhart, Palo Duro Canyon and old movie sets, I also hope you’ll take time to read Karen Blizzard’s excellent piece on the foundation called “For the Love of Texas” (Page 42). Whether your family has been here for generations or you just arrived here last year, I think you’ll find that you, too, can help us love Texas.
Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.