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Wild Times July 2024

New Foundation Launches $20 Million Texas Land Conservation Fund

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) is thrilled at the news that The Horizon Foundation has committed $20 million to support land conservation efforts across Texas. The announcement from the newly established foundation was made at the Texas Land Conservation Conference last week in Austin.

“Like many Texans who cherish the natural resources of our state, we are deeply concerned about the continued degradation of vital, fragile ecosystems across Texas, and we realize that far-reaching efforts must be made now to protect and conserve them” said The Horizon Foundation President Rod Sanders. “Our goal is to galvanize the philanthropic community to join our efforts to protect Texas’ land and water resources today, before they’re lost forever."

The need is huge. Texas is home to over 30 million people and is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., with population estimates suggesting the state may top 50 million people by 2050. While growth is good for the economy, it puts increasing pressure on open space, wildlife habitat, and water resources.

The funding will support the voluntary purchase of land for conservation purposes, as well as the purchase of conservation easements, which are voluntary agreements that forever protect the natural and cultural resource values on a specific parcel of land. Currently, federal and state funds are available for land conservation, but the majority of these sources require 25-50 percent match funding. Without a dedicated source of private or public funding, much of these funds go unspent. The Horizon Foundation’s $20 million commitment will help fill that gap, providing a welcome lift to the longstanding efforts of Texas’ committed conservation community, including TPWF.

For more information on this new initiative, visit The Horizon Foundation's website.

  Story #2: April 8 Total Solar Eclipse to Cast its Shadow on Texas  

April 8 Total Solar Eclipse to Cast its Shadow on Texas

Millions of Texans are over the moon about the rare chance to witness an extraordinary celestial event right here in Texas on Monday, April 8—a total solar eclipse!

When the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun, the sky will darken as if it were dusk, with transitional “twilight periods” before and after. The fascinating phenomenon will wow onlookers while bewildering a stunned wild, briefly awakening night owls and sending songbirds to their nests until the Sun reappears among Texas’ vast skyline.

The upcoming eclipse will traverse North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada, with the eclipse’s shadowy path cutting right through Texas. The path of totality—where you can fully experience the total eclipse and observe the sun’s corona or “ring of fire”—will begin in Del Rio at 1:30 p.m., and travel through a wide swath of the Hill Country; the large metropolises of Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth; and over 30 Texas State Parks before exiting Texas through Texarkana.

Just how rare of an event is the upcoming eclipse? Though a total solar eclipse occurs an average of once every 18 months, the next time one will take place in North America is in 2044, making it an exceptionally rare occasion. And, to split the odds even further, the chance of living in the path of totality during a total solar eclipse is once every 375 years.

Don’t miss out on this truly once-in-a-lifetime event, which was written in the cosmos for the estimated 32 million Americans living in the eclipse’s path.

Planning to view the April 8 eclipse from a Texas State Park? You must act quick! Day passes are required and will be available online here or by phone starting March 8 at 8 a.m. CDT.


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  Story #3: Specialty Equipment will Enhance Eclipse Experience at Texas State Parks  

Specialty Equipment will Enhance Eclipse Experience at Texas State Parks

With over a third of Texas State Parks directly situated within the eclipse’s path, park staff are busy gearing up for huge crowds. Thanks to a donation from Lyda Hill Philanthropies through TPWF, a variety of specialty equipment to enhance eclipse viewing will be available at parks along the eclipse’s path.

The generous donation includes 20,000 eclipse safety glasses, tabletop sun-spotter telescopes, telescope tripods and solar filters, binocular filters, smartphone sun photography adapters, and eclipse-themed books, which will be divvied up among the involved state parks.

"Visiting a Texas State Park is an adventure on any day, but April 8 promises to be a treasured memory for those who have the opportunity to take in an unobstructed, spellbinding view of this monumental l event,” said Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin. “We are so thankful to Lyda Hill Philanthropies for this generous donation, and this specialty equipment will continue to be used and enjoyed by park visitors for years to come."

On the day of the eclipse, Texas State Park staff will offer special programming aimed at safely observing the celestial spectacle, explaining the science behind the phenomenon, and inspiring an appreciation for its cultural and historical context.

“As a science enthusiast, I am glad to support efforts to allow more Texans to experience this special, rare phenomenon at one of our State Parks,” said Lyda Hill, Entrepreneur and Founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “An astronomical event like a total solar eclipse is the sort of memory that can inspire a lifetime of appreciation for nature and science, something I wish for all fellow Texans."


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