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Texas Parks And Wildlife Getting By With Help From Private Donations

Last year Whole Earth Provision raised $30,000 for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and hopes to break its own record this year.

Texas State Parks suffered a tremendous drop in visitors in 2011 that was blamed on extreme heat, the drought and the devastating wildfires - especially in Bastrop State Park.

The parks department put out a plea late in the year asking Texans to start visiting the parks again. Parks spokesman Bryan Frazier said state lawmakers that year helped by offering some new methods to raise funds.

"The legislature set up a revenue stream so that when people register their vehicle or their trailer or their boat, they could at that time, make a donation to parks," Frazier said.

Whole Earth Provision raised the money by asking customers at the register if they would contribute, and the company is going to do that again this year.

Donations from stores in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston will be used to help defray day-to-day operational expenses at more than 90 state parks.

By donating $20, customers will receive a Texas State Park Guide and $5 state park gift card that can be used for entrance fees.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.