Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Texas Wins National
Gold Medal Award for
Best State Park System 

Texas State Parks has received the 2023 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, an honor that recognizes Texas as having the best state park system in the country.

The National Gold Medal Award Program is governed and administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, and the award was announced at the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual conference in October.

“It’s no secret to the more than 9 million people who visit Texas State Parks every year that we have one of the nation’s premier systems,” says Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “However, it is touching and fitting to receive this prestigious award during our centennial year, truly substantiating the progress we have made over the past century to fulfill the vision laid out by Gov. Patt Neff of providing places where the people of Texas could enjoy the beauty of this great state.”

Texas State Parks was named a finalist
along with Missouri State Parks, Ohio State Parks and Watercraft, and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Award Program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces
recreation, and one class, awarded on odd-numbered years, for state park systems.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. Four finalists in each class are chosen to compete for grand honors each year.

“We really tried to highlight for the judges the extensive amount of work we have done in recent years to increase accessibility and diversity in our parks,” Franklin says. “We have
used the excitement created by our centennial celebration as an opportunity to invite new audiences to take advantage of the recreational and health benefits provided by their state parks, and to prepare a new generation of stewards for the next 100 years of growth.”

Less than two weeks after winning the national gold medal, Texas State Parks won the 2023 Heritage Award from the Texas Travel Alliance in recognition of the positive contributions of state parks to travel and tourism in Texas.

 Courtesy NPRA

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