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Funding, drought cited as reasons TWPD will soon end lease with Lake Texana State Park

By JR Ortega
May 4, 2012 at 12:04 a.m.

Lake Texana flows near the Lake Texana State Park, which will be managed by  the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority on Sept. 1.

Meeting about transition

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will be briefed May 23 at the department's Austin headquarters about the proposed termination of the lease and the transition of the park operations to the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority.A public hearing is planned this summer but no date has been scheduled.

About Lake Texana State Park

The park was acquired by a 50-year lease agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation/Lavaca-Navidad River Authority in 1977. The park was opened in September 1981.

Lake Texana is a reservoir on the Navidad River and has about 125 miles of shoreline.

The lake was named after the town of Texana, which was founded in 1832 near the junction of the Navidad and Lavaca rivers.

Wildlife include white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, armadillos and raccoons. Bobcats and turkeys occasionally have been sighted, and alligators are also numerous.

Most popular activities include boating, camping, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, canoeing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, birding and fishing. Tours are also available.

SOURCE: Texas Parks and Wildlife website, tpwd.state.tx.us

For more information about Lake Texana State Park, call 361-782-5718 or visit tpwd.state.tx.us.

Lake Texana's calm and still waters have turned choppy.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which has operated the park for more than three decades, announced Thursday its plan to terminate its lease with Lake Texana State Park on Aug. 31 and turn over control to the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority on Sept. 1.

The termination is not a surprise, said Patrick Brzozowski, the river authority's general manager. This is because the department has seen a steep reduction of state park funding coupled with record heat, drought and wildfires.

"While we are disappointed with the department's decision to terminate its operation here in Jackson County, we understand that the decision made by TPWD is a direct result of the confidence they have in LNRA's ability to provide quality sustainable outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities for the public," Brzozowski said. "Saying this, however, doesn't lessen the burden that's being placed on us.

He said he is hoping for a smooth transition for the river authority as well as the park's more than 40,000 annual visitors.

Other state parks across Texas also adjusting as well because of fund reductions and record dry weather, he said.

The Lake Texana State Park is proof of the trend.

Last year, the 100,000-acre lake had water levels 11 feet below normal, something Brzozowski had never seen, according to the Advocate's archives.

Such weather and low water levels could drive away patrons and their money.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is confident the river authority will continue the park's mission of promoting outdoor recreation, said Texas State Parks director Brent Leisure in a news release.

"The Lavaca-Navidad River Authority has been a valued partner for many years and we are comforted to know they intend to carry on the tradition of operating this park with continued public access for outdoor recreation," Leisure said.

The park is well attended for its fishing, boating and other casual and educational outdoor activities across its lake and its 575 acres.

Plans are for the department to work with the river authority throughout the summer for a transition the park's patrons won't notice, Brzozowski said.

"Upon concurrence of LNRA's board of directors, our first order of business will be to examine our current recreation operation and determine how best to incorporate the state park amenities to create a unified park system," he said.

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