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Michael Barnes

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation at 25

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It’s hard to imagine where our state’s public lands would be without the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.


Ygnacio Garza and Chuck Nash, both former chairmen of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s 25th anniversary party

The nonprofit does the type of good work shouldered in town the Austin Parks Foundation, the Trail Foundation, Waller Creek Conservancy, Barton Springs Conservancy, Pease Park Conservancy, etc. And the statewide foundation, based in Dallas, partners regularly with heroic groups such as the Nature Conservancy of Texas and the Conservation Fund on big projects, such as acquiring Powderhorn Ranch, that huge coastal tract destined to be a park and a wildlife preserve.

Naturally, during its 25th anniversary tribute at ACL Live, the foundation saluted Andrew Sansom, about whom I’ve never heard anything but the highest praise. He’s now head of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in San Marcos, but he was played a pivotal role in the creation of the statewide nonprofit that has raised more than $100 million “to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas.” The group, by the way, does all this on about $1 million a year in operational funds and a slim staff of about a dozen folks.

I spoke with the foundation’s director, with some past TP&W commissioners and with a current land acquisition expert who plans to retire from the state agency and move over to the foundation in the coming months. He’s got quite a few choice anecdotes that must be shared, one hopes in a future American-Statesman profile. Retirement is a good time for that.

Update: In a previous version of this post, Andy Sansom’s name was misspelled.