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The original item was published from 5/3/2016 2:08:48 PM to 5/15/2016 12:05:01 AM.

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Cedar Hill News

Posted on: May 3, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Cedar Hill State Park to get $2.8M from state for flood damage

CH State Park flood 2015

Flooding and other unpredictable weather over the last 18 months have caused an estimated $40 million in damage to Texas’ state parks, including some popular getaways in North Texas. Changes in state funding of parks will help alleviate lost revenue and damage caused by the flooding.

Cedar Hill State Park and Ray Roberts Lake State Park are among the 65 state parks that have been forced to close some sections recently due to high water. A few parks, including Lake Whitney near Hillsboro, remain totally shuttered due to flood damage.

But Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say are they are better positioned than in years past to deal with those costs. That’s because lawmakers last year rejiggered the state parks’ funding model, ensuring that the system gets all the tax dollars that it was promised.

“Having a secure source of funding to help address … the impacts of the storm events over the last 18 months is huge,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s executive director.

Smith on Monday briefed a House Appropriations subcommittee about the impact of the Legislature’s funding reboot, which provided state parks an additional $83.6 million over the biennium. That’s a nearly 29 percent increase, officials said.

Under the new legislation, the parks and wildlife department receives all of the income it’s supposed to get from the state’s sales tax on sporting goods. The agency had been shorted for years, as lawmakers used some of those dollars to help balance the budget.

Carter called the funding boost “transformative,” pointing out how it will help with deferred maintenance, capital projects and other improvements. And he pointed to the recent flood damage as an example of the department’s newfound financial flexibility.

Cedar Hill State Park in southwest Dallas County, for instance, was drowned last year by high waters. And the park is still drying out. In late April, renewed rainfall forced the closure of two camping loops, all trails and the marina.

Department spokesman Tom Harvey said later Monday that $10 million was allocated this year for flood repairs – including $2.8 million for Cedar Hill and $2.3 for Ray Roberts Lake. He said the agency is still determining the source for the remaining $30 million.

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