The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department faces a $4.6 million shortfall following a difficult period of wildfires and drought. Bill Zeeble has more on the Department's plan to improve the bottom line.
Parks and Wildlife Director Carter Smith says the Department has faced tough times before in its 88-year history.
Smith: But certainly now, this is a particularly daunting one. We have a very real and urgent and critical need, But fortunately we don't think it's an insurmountable one.
That's because Smith expects park visitation will pick up. Attendance funds half the department's annual $69 million dollar budget. Recent extreme heat and fires reduced attendance, forcing revenues down by 25 percent. Smith hopes for increased dollars as well from the vehicle department. Beginning in January, the legislature will let Texans make a Parks and Wildlife donation when renewing vehicle registrations. So Smith is optimistic, but cautious.
Smith: There are no specific plans to close parks. But if past weather events rear their head again in spring and summer, with corresponding declines in park visitation, then there's no doubt we're going to have have to look closely at our operations budget and make appropriate adjustments.
Smith says expects the vehicle registration renewal donations could amount to $1.5 million.