'Triple-whammy' hits Texas state parks in the pocketbook

Green jay and cardinal at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission / File Photo

Drought, fire and fewer visitors have created a $4.6 million deficit for Texas state parks. Officials are asking the public to donate money and visit their parks more often.

Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife agency said officials are not yet planning park closures or reduced hours and are hopeful the campaign launched Tuesday will raise the money.

Visitor fees provide about half of the parks' $69 million operating budget. Smith said record heat and drought and several devastating wildfires have dropped visitation and revenue by as much as 25 percent.

Texas has 94 state parks and historic sites which draw nearly 8 million visitors annually.

The Rio Grande Valley has four state parks:

Resaca de la Palma in Brownsville Estero Llano in Weslaco Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley in Mission Falcon State Park on the shores of Falcon Lake