Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:
An Inventory of Parks and Wildlife Department Arkansas-White-Red Basins Inter-Agency Committee Records at the Texas State Archives, 1949-1952, bulk 1950-1951
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) 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…," and existed 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 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 its 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, 52nd Legislature, Regular Session).
The Texas 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 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 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). The Infrastructure Division administers TPWD's Capital Program, which includes all new construction, restoration, renovation, maintenance, and repair projects. It is responsible for all design and construction contracts for the department, and it provides professional design, construction, and project management services to state parks, wildlife management areas, hatcheries, and other department facilities. The division is also TPWD's liaison with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The Arkansas-White-Red Basins Inter-Agency Committee was created in 1950 at the request of the President of the United States. Legislative basis for this committee was contained in the Flood Control Act of 1950, Public Law 516, 81st Congress. The Committee was made up of representatives from federal agencies concerned with water and related resource development and governors of the states involved. Each state had a work group composed of representatives from state agencies or similar bodies involved in the process. The Texas work group members were: Chief Engineer, Railroad Commission; Chairman, Texas Board of Water Development; Executive Secretary, Game and Fish Commission; State Health Officer; Director, Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas; Director, State Parks Board; Executive Director, State Soil Conservation Board; Director, Bureau of Business Research, University of Texas; and Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M University. Public hearings were held in several cities in the region to gather comments and feedback from the public. The Committee conducted water and resource development studies. It produced an initial set of reports that were sent to the various federal and state work groups to solicit comments to accompany the report before it was submitted to Congress and the President. The comprehensive reports were published in 1955.
The Arkansas-White-Red Basins Inter-Agency Committee was created in 1950 at the request of the President of the United States. Legislative basis for this committee was contained in the Flood Control Act of 1950, Public Law 516, 81st Congress. The Committee was made up of representatives from federal agencies concerned with water and related resource development and governors of the states involved. Each state had a work group composed of representatives from state agencies or similar bodies involved in the process. The Committee conducted water and resource development studies. Records consist of meeting minutes, procedure guides, weekly meeting logs, correspondence, public hearing transcripts, and reports on water and other resources in the Arkansas, White, and Red River Basins, dating 1950-1952, bulk 1949-1951. The river basins cover areas in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas. Minutes from the following subcommittees and workgroups are present for some meetings: Technical Conference, Recreation Work Group, Hydrologic Subcommittee, and the Drainage Work Group. A few Census Bureau reports from 1949 are also present. Topics covered include water resources planning, economic analysis of the river basin project, recreation development, navigation economic studies, drainage and flood control works, irrigation, reclamation, water quality, and hydroelectric power.
Correspondents include the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Commerce, the Interstate Compact Commissioner, and the Executive Secretary/Director of the Texas State Parks Board, Gordon Sheares. Although the Texas Game and Fish Commission also had a representative on this committee, no correspondence or similar original documentation of that agency's involvement has been found in these specific records.
Preliminary reports not present in these files along with final reports of the Committee can be found in the Federal Documents Collection of the Library and Archives Commission or in the library at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Titles of all the reports produced by the Inter-Agency Committee are unknown. Minutes of the Inter-Agency Committee are present for 1950-1952; minutes from 1955 to 1959 can be found in the Federal Documents Collection. Transcripts of public hearings of the committee in 1950 are present in these records, some can also be found in the library at TCEQ.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room (Room 100). Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
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.).
(Identify the item), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Arkansas-White-Red Basins Inter-Agency Committee records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2002/131
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 Department on April 22, 2002.
Laura K. Saegert, February 2007
Detailed Description of the Records