East Texans Sign Petition To Save Texas State Parks - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/11/06-Palestine

East Texans Sign Petition To Save Texas State Parks

Last month, the city of Palestine found out for the first time in 30 years the Texas State Railroad would no longer be running out of their town. Palestine's railroad depot, however, is just one of 46 state parks being affected because of state budget cuts. Now citizens are asking the Governor and State Legislature to put funding back into the state parks system.

It was a cold and windy afternoon in Palestine, but that didn't stop volunteers spread out across the city from getting people to sign their petition.  "We're trying to get as many signatures as we can of citizens of Palestine and the surrounding areas to show the Legislature and the Governor that Texans support the Texas state park system and want to see it be one of the best in the country," said Palestine Mayor Carolyn Salter. Hundreds of citizens signed the petition today.

"We have gotten so much support from all across the state," said Andrea Baird, petition organizer. "Other cities, from other parks, businesses just organizations across the state that are really pushing for this."

On the petition, they ask the Governor and Legislators to read the Texas Parks and Wildlife mission statement, which is "to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations."

Because of the state budget cuts, Texas Parks and Wildlife was forced to close down the Palestine depot, which citizens say will hurt their city financially.  "In Palestine it's important for our tourism," said Mayor Salter. "Heritage tourism is the main tourist activity and main tourism draw to our community."

Volunteers today say the petition is not just for Palestine, but for the entire Texas State Parks system.  "We hope to encourage the legislature to support the parks system more fully, through the sporting goods tax and through the general fund," said Mayor Salter.

Volunteers say they're hoping to get 5,000 signatures. Today they received almost 700. If you'd like to sign the petition the Palestine Visitor and Information Center will have it until February 20th.

Molly Reuter reporting, mreuter@kltv.com

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