Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:
An Inventory of Parks and Wildlife Commission Meeting Files at the Texas State Archives, 1963-2004
The Parks and Wildlife Department is responsible for the management and conservation of the state's wildlife and fish resources; provision of outdoor recreational opportunities to the public; acquisition, development, and operation of wildlife management areas, fish hatcheries, state parks, historic sites, and other public lands; conservation education and outreach; cultural and historical interpretation; and the regulation of fishing, hunting, and boating activities. The Department is composed of ten major divisions which carry out the functions and duties of the agency: Wildlife, State Parks, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Communications, Law Enforcement, Infrastructure, Administrative Resources, Legal, Information Technology, and Human Resources. An Executive Director, selected by the Parks and Wildlife Commission, administers the department. In 2005, the agency employed the full-time equivalent of 3,038 people.
The Parks and Wildlife Department is governed by the Parks and Wildlife Commission, initially composed of three members, increased to six members in 1972, and as of 1983, nine members, appointed by the Governor with approval of the Senate. Members serve six-year overlapping terms. The Commission chairperson is appointed biennially by the Governor. The Commission meets quarterly or more often as needed. Its chief responsibility is to adopt policies and rules to carry out the programs of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) had its beginnings in 1879 when the 16th Texas Legislature authorized the Governor to appoint a fish commissioner to ensure compliance with an Act for the preservation of fish, and to build fish ways and fish ladders (Chapter 92, 16th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1881, the Office of the Fish Commissioner was established (Chapter 78, 17th Legislature, Regular Session). It was created for the "propagation and preservation of fish and to build fish-ways and fish-ladders…," existing through 1885. The commissioner was appointed to a two year term by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate.
In 1895, the Office of the Fish and Oyster Commissioner was created by House Bill 55, 24th Legislature, Regular Session, with the commissioner appointed by the Governor as before. The duties included the protection of fish, turtles and terrapin of the bays and coastal waters of the state, protection of natural oyster beds and reefs, and the protection of the location of private beds. The Commissioner had the authority to appoint Deputy Commissioners to assist in carrying out the duties of the office. In 1907, protection of wild birds and wild game was added to the responsibilities of that office, which became the Office of the Game, Fish and Oyster Commissioner (House Bill 379, 30th Legislature, Regular Session). This Commissioner appointed Deputy Game Commissioners to assist in carrying out the duties of the office.
The single commissioner was replaced by a six-member commission in 1929 and the agency became the Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission (Senate Bill 83, 41st Legislature, Regular Session). The commissioners were appointed to six year terms by the Governor with the approval of the Senate, and were to be selected from different sections of the state. The chair was appointed by the Governor. Duties of the commission included administering the state's laws relating to game and fish; preventing pollution of streams; issuing hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses; collecting fees, taxes, and fines; conducting research; and proclaiming and enforcing open seasons and bag limits on game and fish. The commission also operated fish hatcheries and sanctuaries, administered game and hunting preserves, supervised oyster beds in the state, controlled and exterminated predatory animals and fish, and educated the public in the preservation of wildlife and fish and game resources of the state. It had the authority to create rules and regulations as necessary to carry out their duties. The name was changed to the Texas Game and Fish Commission in 1951 and the size of the board was increased to nine members (Senate Bill 463, 52 Legislature, Regular Session).
The State Parks Board was created in 1923 (Senate Bill 73, 38th Legislature, First Called Session) to investigate prospective park sites in the state and report to the Legislature with recommendations, and to solicit and accept donations of land for state park purposes. The State Parks Board was initially composed of five members, appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Senate to six year terms, and they were to be state officers. The number of board members increased to six in 1937 (Senate Bill 484, 45th Legislature, Regular Session). This board was to begin locating sites for the establishment of the state parks system. It also directed and managed state parks created, except the historical parks which were managed by the Board of Control and/or several separate commissions. The Parks Board was also charged with locating, designating, and marking historic grounds, battlegrounds, and other historic sites in the state, and erecting markers and monuments at such sites. The board also had the authority to create rules and regulations as necessary to carry out its duties. The primary function of the board between 1923 and 1933 was to acquire lands for parks through donations. In 1933, federal funds became available for state park development and the board worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Park Service for the development of better park sites for a state parks system. The CCC provided labor during the 1930s to improve state park lands and facilities. In 1949, the state historical parks were transferred to the State Parks Board, except for the San Jacinto Battlefield, the Battleship Texas, and the Fannin Battlefield, which were still controlled by their respective commissions--the San Jacinto Battlefield Commission, the Battleship Texas Commission, and the Fannin Battlefield Commission (House Bill 120, 51st Legislature, Regular Session). Jurisdiction over the Fannin and San Jacinto Battlefields was transferred to TPWD in 1965 (House Bill 102, 59th Legislature, Regular Session). Battleship Texas was transferred to TPWD in 1983 (House Bill 586, 68th Legislature, Regular Session).
In 1963, the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission were merged to form the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (House Bill 21, 58th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1967, the Historic Structures and Sites Act was passed by the 60th Legislature, House Bill 58, Regular Session, charging the Parks and Wildlife Department with stewardship of the state's cultural heritage sites. In 1983, the Legislature passed the 1983 Wildlife Conservation Act (Senate Bill 94, 68th Legislature, Regular Session), which gave the agency the authority to manage fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties. Prior to this act county commissioner courts set game and fish laws in many counties, and other counties had veto power over Department regulations. In 1985, the legislature granted the agency authority over shrimp and oysters (Senate Bill 609, 69th Legislature, Regular Session).
(Sources: Enabling legislation, numerous years; Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; and from information found in the Texas Parks and Wildlife records.)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is responsible for the management and conservation of the state's natural and cultural resources, provision of outdoor recreational opportunities, conservation education and outreach, and interpretation of cultural and historical resources. These records include copies of minutes, agenda, transcripts, and supporting documents of meetings and public hearings held by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, dating 1963-2004. Foldered minutes and supporting documents are present for 1963-1972 (mostly 1963-1964, 1972), 1979, 1983-1995, 1998. Bound volumes of minutes (with materials sent out as agenda packets) are present for 1972-1978. There are also microfilm copies of minutes with supporting documents for 1963-mid July 1983, November 1987-2004. The bound meeting materials include verbatim transcripts of the commission meetings, agenda items, lists of attendants, reports, background information on individuals, memos, letters, park and budget proposals, recommendations on the proposals, summaries of public hearings held, clippings, photographs, maps, charts, tables, etc. The non-bound meeting files contain summaries of agenda items and supporting documents, including operational plans, proposed budgets, master plans for parks, resolutions, memos, letters, contracts, deeds, reports, photographs, maps, proposals, etc. The microfilm contains minutes, summaries of agenda items, transcripts from hearings and meetings, supporting documents, and vouchers. The film largely duplicates the paper files, but large reports, proposals or some other items were not always filmed, just noted on the film that the item would be handed out at the meeting. The State Archives has decided to keep the paper files to provide copies of the items not filmed. Beginning in 1995, the film includes either transcripts or minute summaries of standing or ad hoc commission committees (generally the Public Lands Committee, Finance Committee, Regulations Committee, Conservation Committee, Ad Hoc Committee on Infrastructure, Outreach and Education Committee, and the Public Hearing Committee). There is a small amount of loose meeting materials (resolutions, proposals, correspondence, planning documents) and a few loose hearing transcripts. Topics discussed at the meetings include division activities, changes in or addition to TPWD laws and regulations, orders issued by the commission, etc.
This series was removed from the overall TPWD finding aid due to the electronic file size limitations imposed by the online finding aid web site (TARO). If you are reading this electronically, click on the following link to access the overall finding aid, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department records. If you are reading this in paper in the Archives search room, the finding aid, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department records, is found in the first divider within the same binder.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Microfilm readers are available for use in Rooms 105 and 300 in the Lorenzo de Zavala Archives and Library Building.
Researchers are required to use gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials.
(Identify the item), Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting files. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1996/102, 1997/015, 1998/169, 2000/150, 2002/114, 2003/039, 2004/090, 2005/187, 2006/019, 2006/056, 2006/103, 2006/125
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. on May 3 and September 20, 1996; June 11, 1998; May 10, 2000; March 27, 2002; February 17, 2004; August 31, September 20 and November 8, 2005; January 25, 2006; and by the Legislative Reference Library on October 18, 2002 and January 11, 2006.
Lisa Hendricks, July 1996
Tony Black and Jason Walker, July 1998
Laura K. Saegert, January 2006
Minutes and meeting supporting documentation files were appraised by the State Archives staff as archival on October 18, 1999. For more information about the appraisal of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's records, see the appraisal report done by State Archives staff on file in the search room of the Archives and Information Services Division. It is not available online.
Microfilm of minutes are transferred to the State Archives on a yearly basis.
Transcripts from Commission meetings and hearings from 2000-present are posted the TPWD's website; meeting agenda are posted from fiscal year 1998-present ( http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/index.phtml).
The original minutes are on file at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
Detailed Description of the Records