Texas State Parks system makes finalist list for national parks and recreation award

CANYON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 23: A view of Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the United States on December 23, 2020 in Canyon, Texas. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images) (Josh Brasted, 2020 Josh Brasted)

AUSTIN – The Texas State Parks system is one of four organizations listed as finalists for the 2023 National Gold Medal Award. The program honors communities throughout the United States for their dedication and excellence in parks and recreation management.

The recognition comes from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Among the other finalists are Missouri State Parks, Ohio State Parks, and Watercraft; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails. The winner will be announced in October at the NRPA annual conference in Dallas.

“It is an honor for Texas State Parks to be nationally recognized for our efforts to welcome all Texans and preserve the gems of Texas for all generations,” Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, said in a news release.

The announcement comes as the agency is celebrating its 100th year. Founded in 1923, Texas State Parks has been working to preserve the best of Texas’ wildlife, with efforts to educate the public about the land.

“The fact that we were named a finalist among peer institutions across the country really highlights the progress we have made over the past century to fulfill then-Gov. Pat Neff’s vision of a Texas dotted with state parks ‘to be held in sacred trust by the State for the public good, now and forever,” continued Franklin.

Parks managed by the Texas State Parks include Brazos Bend State Park, Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center, Stephen F. Austin State Park, and Galveston Island State Park.