Executive Director, Carter Smith, can be seen in a video on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website asking to public to donate money to help keep “these special treasures open”.
The budget shortfall is credited to, “record drought and heat, devastating wildfires, and a drop in visitation,” according to the website.
Locally the outlook is not as grim as it is in some state parks. Visitation at Choke Canyon State only fell by 1,973 visitors between 2010 and 2011. In 2010 the park had 95,740 total visits and in 2011 there were 93,767 total visits. The park calendar year runs from September through August.
Park Manager Rudy Mesa felt the decline was due to the burn ban. Camp fires have not been allowed in the park for months and charcoal cooking on the cabin grills was only allowed back within the last month prior to that it was propane cooking only.
While Mesa said lake levels are down about 11 and a half feet all the boat ramps have remained open and the fisherman are still coming.
With the start of December came one of the slowest months in park visitors annually but Mesa is hoping visitation will pick up after the first of the year.
Mesa like everyone else that works for Texas State Parks and Wildlife is encouraging people to do what they can to help save the parks.
In Smith’s video he says the three ways residents can help is by a tax deductable year in donation on their website (www.tpwd.state.tx.us), a donation at the time of vehicle registration or by going to visit a state park.