TX BHA Policy News - October 2023

SB 1236

Recently, SB 1236 was passed by the Texas government. This new law removes the opportunity for hunters to use public riverbeds and streams for hunting as it bans using rifles and archery equipment (unless equipped with a reel and line) in public waterways. During the recent legislative session, this decision has been met with opposition from various groups, including the Texas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. However, despite the opposition, SB 1236 was passed unanimously by the State Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. This law has significant implications for hunting access and opportunities, especially in a state with limited public access and a booming population.  Texas BHA has initiated a petition, which can be found here (https://www.backcountryhunters.org/save_public_hunting_opportunities_on_texas_waterways).  This issue was also covered on Cal’s Week In Review, episode 224: Sharked! Interview with Rob Wittman and Texas SB 1236 Hunters Lose access in the Lone Star State, which can be found here (https://www.themeateater.com/listen/cals-week-in-review).

How You Can Make a Difference:

Step 1) Sign and share this petition to help us build an advocate list to address SB 1236 during the next legislative session.

Step 2) Sportsmen and women in the United States cite lack of access as the number one reason they stop pursuing their passions of hunting and fishing. The elected officials who unanimously passed S.B. 1236 must be educated on this issue. Hunters who rely on public waterways to pursue their outdoor traditions and put meat on the family table must speak up. Use the link below to identify your state representative and send them a courteous and detailed message about the negative repercussions this tremendous loss of access will have on current and future generations of Texas hunters. Use this link to find and contact your state representative: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

Proposition 14 (The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund)

On November 7th, 2023, Texas can decide on a ballot measure to amend the Texas Constitution to create the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund by voting for Proposition 14 (Creation of the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund Amendment). If approved, a $1 billion endowment fund to create additional new parks across the state is the most significant investment in parks in our history, all without increasing taxes. Using a part of the large state government surplus, the Texas Legislature passed SB 1648 in both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and approved the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund.  Governor Abbott signed it on Memorial Day, and it will go to the voters as a constitutional amendment this November. The Texas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) commends the Texas state legislature in approving Senate Bill 1648 and Senate Joint Resolution 74, authored by State Senator Tan Parker (R-District 12) and sponsored by State Representatives Armando Walle (D-District 140) and Justin Holland (R-District 33), and signed by Governor Greg Abbott on May 29, 2023.

Texas BHA urges Texas sportsmen and women to vote in favor of the amendment, which will provide long-term and stable funding for new state park acquisition, which will significantly improve our ability to preserve and protect our varied and unique natural and cultural resources, simultaneously making them accessible to our ever-growing population and demand for public land. The Centennial Parks Conservation Fund comes at a time when we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Texas State Parks and the 60th anniversary of the merger with the Texas Game and Fish Commission, which formed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, consisting of 4,871 acres and west of Fort Worth, is scheduled to open later this year, the first new state park in 20 years.

TPWD Announces Habitat and Angler Access Program Projects for 2024-25

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries Division has selected ten new projects to be supported by the Habitat and Angler Access Program (HAAP) for 2024-25. HAAP, launched in June 2021, sponsored its first round of projects in 2022-23 and is primarily funded by purchasing freshwater fishing licenses. “The Habitat and Angler Access Program offers us a tremendous opportunity to support much-needed fish habitat enhancement initiatives and shoreline-based access improvements, improving the conservation of fisheries resources and quality of angling for Texans,” said Michael Homer, Abilene District fisheries biologist and HAAP coordinator. The second round of projects is expected to be completed by August 31, 2025. The following request for proposals for fiscal years 2026-27 will be announced in spring 2025.

Projects selected for 2024-25 are listed below:

  • Fishing Pier at Lake Bridgeport (City of Runaway Bay)
  • Fishing Piers at Lake Livingston
  • MediPark Fishing Pier in Amarillo
  • Hill at Sims Fishing Lake Access and Habitat Project
  • City of Early Town Center Kayak Launches
  • Miller’s Pond Fishing Pier and Pond Aeration Project
  • Garner State Park Riparian Restoration Project
  • TreeFolks Reforestation Project
  • Iraan Riparian Restoration and Angler Access Project
  • Upper San Marcos River Invasive Species Control Project

Stay up-to-date with Texas BHA policy news and ways to get involved by becoming a member, joining our mailing list, or following us on social channels (Facebook, Instagram). 

About Ryan Buege

Policy Chair for the Texas Chapter of BHA. He lives, hunts, and fishes in Central Texas.

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