Proposed national recreation area could mean vistors, revenue for Texas

According to a study by the National Parks Conservations Association, a proposed national recreation area along the Gulf Coast of Texas could bring a host of benefits to the state, including more visitors, jobs, and revenue. The creation of this new recreation area would also have the added benefit of protecting the coastline from hurricane damage, while preserving the fragile ecosystems that exists there.

Plans for the so-called Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area came about when prominent local businessman John Nau and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker put together a team to investigate the possibilities of creating such a preserve. The proposed site would span four Texas counties, including Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston, and Chambers. That region was specifically chosen for its outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation and the existing infrastructure of both publicly and privately managed lands.

When the NPCA got wind of the plans back in December, they immediately went to work conducting their own research on the possible economic impact of the new national recreation area. Their findings bode well for the future economic healthy of the region. The organization predicts that creating the NRA would triple the number of visitors to the region in the first ten years alone, which translates to a projected $192 million in local revenue, along with more than 5200 jobs.

Economic gains aren’t the only touted benefits for the new NRA either. The designated lands would also serve as a buffer from powerful storms coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, helping to mitigate damage to property further inland and keeping flood waters to a minimum as well. Furthermore, residents living in and around the recreation area would also see a rise in their quality of life too. Having a fantastic, and federally protected, outdoor playground in their backyard, provides unhindered access to nature that might not be there if the land isn’t protected.

The NPCA report notes that the designation of the new National Recreation Area won’t result in the economic benefits alone, but will lay down the ground work to facilitate development of the region. A coordinated approach to that development could turn the Texas Gulf Coast into a premiere outdoor destination however, which could attract hundreds of thousands of visitors on an annual basis.

Having visited this area myself, I can say that it is already a good destination for outdoor enthusiasts. That said however, it has the potential to be even more amazing if it garners the national recreation area designation. That would not only protect it for future generations to enjoy as well, but help facilitate the development of an infrastructure that will make it more accessible as well.

[Map courtesy Dan Servian, Direwolf Graphics]