In Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (“TPWD”) manages and conserves the natural and cultural resources of Texas. It also provides hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The TPWD has been established as an agency of the state. It is under the policy direction of the Parks and Wildlife Commission (“Commission”)[i]. The Commission develops and implements policies that clearly separate the policymaking responsibilities of the Commission and the management responsibilities of the director and the department staff.
In addition, the Commission may adopt rules relating to residency for the purposes of hunting or catching any animal in this state through the use of any device that remotely controls another device used to hunt or catch the animal. The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the members of the senate present and voting.
The TPWD receives federal assistance from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other federal agencies. The TPWD complies with state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability. It also provides outdoor recreational opportunities by managing and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat and acquiring and managing parklands and historic areas. It has inherited the functions of many state entities created to protect Texas natural resources.
Currently, the TPWD has 11 internal divisions:
b) Coastal Fisheries,
c) Inland Fisheries,
d) Law Enforcement,
e) State Parks,
h) Administrative Resources,
j) Human Resources ,and
k) Information Technology.
The mission and performance of the TPWD are currently being reviewed by the Legislature as required under the Texas Sunset Act (“Act”). The Act provides that the Sunset Commission, composed of legislators and public members, periodically evaluate state agencies including the TPWD to determine if the agency is still needed and what improvements are needed to ensure that state funds are well spent. Based on the recommendations of the Sunset Commission, the Texas Legislature ultimately decides whether the TPWD continues to operate into the future.
The following are under the TPWD’s control and custody:
a) all recreational and natural areas designated as state parks; and
b) all historical sites acquired by the department.
The Commission also establishes a classification system for state parks and wildlife management areas that categorizes wildlife management areas, parks, or a portion of parks as wildlife management areas, recreational areas, natural areas, or historical sites. However, the Commission may not classify a historical site as a historical park. The commission adopts rules governing the acquisition and development of recreational areas, natural areas, or historical sites[ii].
The Commission also establishes as a priority the acquisition of land necessary for parks that are established by this code and that comply with the classification system and rules adopted by the Commission[iii].
[i] Tex. Parks & Wild. Code § 11.011.
[ii] Tex. Parks & Wild. Code § 13.001.