GREAT OUTDOORS: 50 and Going Strong

Great Outdoors pic1-3-21-13

Special to the Parade

Great Outdoors pic2-3-21-13It seems like the years are going faster and faster, and who would have ever thought we would be going strong in 2013. Back in 1963, our Texas legislators voted to combine two state agencies to create the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPW).

We were watching the new TV show the “Beverly Hillbillies” and dancing or listening to “My Boyfriend’s Back.” This was also the year when the Texas Longhorns were in line to win a national football championship.

Several decades later, TPW is ready to light 50 candles on its birthday cake.

It seems that time has truly flown by – young men beginning their rookie year as game wardens are now in high places or have retired. Good friends such as TPW Information Officer Paul Hope have passed on but will never be forgotten. The man in charge of the Brownsville office, in addition to being an excellent game warden, has proved his worth time and time again. Many of TPW’s finest wardens started right here in South Texas, protecting our coastal waters and ranchlands.

This year, TPW will mark its 50th anniversary using technology not even imagined back in 1963. The department has set up a 50th anniversary web page. Go to, where people can share stories and photos about their memorable moments in the Texas outdoors and thereby inspire others to enjoy nature. I will be adding mine this week about the redfish and the osprey. Longtime readers of this column may remember this story.

While online, the agency hopes people will sign up to become a Texas Parks and Wildlife ambassador and pledge to do things like visit state parks, take a kid hunting or fishing, and watch and share a video showcasing what’s made life better outside in Texas.

“With all the bounty and beauty of our natural places, our parks, our wildlife, and with everything that’s at stake in our state today, we are excited about our 50th birthday,” said TPW Executive Director Carter Smith, “but we don’t want it to be all about us, and we want to look to the future as we celebrate our past.”

While acknowledging the many contributions of former and current TPW employees, Smith says the agency wants the half-century celebration to focus on the people who support the department, and to inspire a new generation of supporters.

So blow out the candles and make a wish for Texas wildlife and the people who support it. There are many more I have known and could mention, but my space is limited.

Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography go to: If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at

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