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Is Texas’ Overcrowded, Underfunded State Parks System Being Loved to Death?

Texans love their state parks. But state’s public lands are overcrowded and rapidly deteriorating.

Maybe it’s time to take the long view.

On weekends and holidays, it’s now common for visitors to be turned away at Enchanted Rock and Balmorhea as well as Government Canyon, Guadalupe River, Ray Roberts Lake, McKinney Falls, Pedernales Falls, Hueco Tanks and Garner.

More people are enjoying Texas’ 95 state parks than ever. In the 2017 fiscal year, there were 10 million visitors, a 20 percent increase over 2012. Visitation at some destinations has skyrocketed. For example, the number of visitors to McKinney Falls, a small park on Onion Creek in far southeast Austin, nearly doubled in the last decade, jumping from 128,000 in 2008 to 319,000 in 2017.

Earl Nottingham/Texas Parks and Wildlife

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