Information for Landowners and Private Businesses
Interest in nature tourism is growing in Texas as rural communities look for ways to diversify local economies and landowners look for ways to diversify ranch income. Texas rangelands comprise 59 percent of the total land area of the state. As a state that is 94 percent privately owned, the wildlife resources of Texas are entrusted to the stewardship of private landowners. A basic tenet of wildlife management in Texas has been to empower private land managers with information, technical assistance, and incentives to manage wildlife populations for the public good as well as for individual economic gain.
Many landowners in Texas currently derive substantial income from wildlife-associated recreation in the form of hunting and fishing on their private lands. The 2001 Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-associated Recreation showed that fishing contributed $2.0 billion to the state's economy, while hunting contributed $1.5 billion, and wildlife watching $1.3 billion. Interest in nature-based tourism is rooted in a growing understanding among landowners that providing recreational opportunities for emerging markets of experiential tourists is another important way to derive economic benefit from the natural resources found on private lands. Activities such as birdwatching, photography, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and canoeing are increasingly popular as urban residents and visitors strive to connect with the outdoors.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is actively involved in nature tourism development on the private landowner level through the work of the nature tourism coordinator. The nature tourism coordinator is available to work one-on-one with landowners when they initially have their site assessment done by private lands biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife. The nature tourism coordinator is able to supplement the biological site assessment with guidance on potential nature tourism ventures that could work on the property as the landowner implements suggested habitat management techniques. Through presentations at landowner workshops, TPWD also provides assistance to landowners statewide by answering questions, helping to locate available resources and meeting landowners throughout the state.
For a listing of future nature tourism related workshops offered throughout the state, visit the Texas Nature Tourism Council's Workshops and Events website.