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Texas State Park entry fees waived during Lone Star Legacy Weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Anyone interested in discovering the state’s natural and cultural treasures while raising funds to support conservation and historical preservation should visit one of the more than 120 state parks and historic sites during Lone Star Legacy Weekend Oct. 19-20.

Lone Star Legacy Weekend activities will include everything from fishing contests to car shows and concerts to living history demonstrations, nature tours and wild game dinners.

Also participating in the third annual weekend celebration will be Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Lighthouse Lakes Trails and a handful of wildlife management areas (WMA). The previous two Lone Star Legacy Weekends have raised $145,000.

Lone Star Legacy was launched in 1998 by the nonprofit Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas to boost public conservation efforts, create greater awareness of the state’s top natural and cultural resources and raise private funds to support TPWD sites statewide. Since its inception, the campaign has raised approximately $9 million in cash and pledges for TPWD sites.

This is the third year in a row for the statewide celebration and fundraiser marked by special events and activities at state parks, fisheries centers and participating WMAs throughout Texas. Those making a donation to their favorite state park, the Texas State Park system or other TPWD site will receive a complimentary packet of wildflower seeds.

“Lone Star Legacy Weekend represents an ideal opportunity for Texans to get out and enjoy the incredible state park system, fisheries centers and wildlife preserves that belong to them,” said Robert L. Cook, TPWD’s executive director. “There are still millions of Texans who don’t realize what they’re missing. We encourage them to join us in celebrating the outdoors and our unique heritage at dozens of special events taking place from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast.”

The foundation’s fundraising initiative was launched on the heels of the first of several reports noting that TPWD faced considerable financial challenges in maintaining and operating more than 200 state parks, historic sites, WMAs, fish hatcheries and other facilities. The entire amount of each Legacy donation goes into an endowment fund. Once a facility’s endowment account reaches a certain amount, the interest generated can be used for operations, equipment and other needs.

Walt Dabney, TPWD’s state parks director, says it’s important that people understand just what state parks represent in order to garner public support in times of tight state budgets.

“Our parks and other facilities are bare-bones operations,” Dabney said. “If we’re going to be able to offer anything beyond just keeping them open and clean, we need to have additional resources. Lone Star Legacy donations and our dedicated volunteers represent the difference between just being there and staying open to actually being able to offer educational and interpretive programs that enhance the visitor experience.”

While no entrance fees will be charged at participating Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sites, donations will be accepted to benefit the Lone Star Legacy campaign. Overnight camping, some historic home tour fees and various activity fees, such as tickets to ride on the Texas State Railroad, will still apply. Toyota and its Texas dealers are underwriting state park admission fees to make Lone Star Legacy Weekend possible. For more information about Lone Star Legacy events, visit (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) or call 800-792-1112.