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Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov [RM]

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TPWD News Release — Aug. 29, 2005

Twenty Texas Communities Get $3.75 Million In Park Grants

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved $3.75 million in grants at its Aug. 25 meeting to provide recreational opportunities and park facilities, and create greenbelts for communities throughout the state.

Montgomery County was awarded the largest grant — a $1 million Regional Park Grant to develop the Spring Creek Greenway. It was the only grant out of three regional park grant applications received by Jan. 31, 2005, requesting $5 million from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account for park and conservation projects.

The 76th session of the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of a regional park grant program to be funded through the TRPA. The program is designed to support multi-jurisdictional projects of regional significance serving Texas’ metropolitan areas. Projects proposing intensive use recreation and/or regional conservation and recreation are eligible to request matching funds. Funds available include $1 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The commission approved four Local Park Grants of $500,000 each for a total of $2 million. Funds for this program come from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The TRPA was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions of the state in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is generated from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods. Funds available include $1.5 million from Fiscal Year 2006 TRPA revenue and $500,000 in federal Land and Water Conservation Funds. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received 17 applications by Jan. 31, 2005, requesting $7,307,700 in matching fund assistance.

In the Small Community Grant funding category, the commission approved 15 park projects totaling $750,000. All were funded at the maximum $50,000-per-applicant level. As of Jan. 31, 2005, TPWD received applications from 35 sponsors requesting $1,695,842 in matching funds.

The Small Community Program provides 50 percent matching fund reimbursement grants to eligible local governments with a population of 20,000 or less. In recent years, the demand for these funds has dramatically increased, as has the competition for these limited resources. All applications submitted in this category are evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized with the criteria, rating factors and points according to the “Project Priority Scoring System.”

A number of communities that applied for local and regional grants were not successful during this funding cycle in acquiring park grants because of increased competition for a shrinking pool of grant money. One reason is recent budget cuts that resulted in a significant reduction in Texas Parks and Recreation Account program funding that provides grants to various local and regional community park projects. For this reason, TPWD has less grant money available to award for parks and recreation programs. The TRPA appropriations were reduced from $20.44 million in Fiscal Year 2002-03 to $13.02 million for FY 2004-2005 and $5.64 million for FY2006-07.

Below is the complete list of grants awarded Aug. 25, listed in alphabetical order by county. Type of grant received is indicated in parentheses:

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