Garner State Park, 1,800 acres of Hill Country with a spring-fed river and numerous hiking trails, is the most visited Texas state park. Incredibly popular with campers and boaters, it drew more than 275,000 people in 2013.
But its future is threatened if the aging water or sewer services fail, which has happened before. And that's true in many of the state's 95 parks, which are closing more often because of hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance over recent decades.
Lawmakers and state officials say the state's parks badly need a funding boost from the 84th Legislature — and not just for the next two years.
"We're running from crisis to crisis in terms of trying to put duct tape and bailing wire on a problem that needs a whole lot more," Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told lawmakers at the Capitol Tuesday during a hearing of the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee.
Most Texas state parks were built by President Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and the last major renovation effort came in the 1970s. Since then, park facilities haven't been updated much.