Austin, TX, 6/18/2007: Longtime parks and conservation advocate George Bristol was recognized by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) with the organization’s first annual Texas Land & People Award. TPL presented the award to George during an event to celebrate the accomplishments of the 80th legislative session for parks in Texas. The Texas Land & People Award is given to individuals and organizations that demonstrate extraordinary commitment to conserving our natural lands, enhancing local or state parks systems, and protecting the natural assets that define our unique communities.
“We spoke to parks leaders and conservation organizations across the state, asking for nominations for our first annual award,” said TPL Texas State Director Nan McRaven. “All of them said, ‘George, George, George’.”
The gathering was held at the Austin home of Joe and Tana Christie. The celebration’s two-fold focus on the successes of the session and honoring George converged easily as guests spoke of George’s seminal role in working with legislators to refine and pass critical parks funding bills.
Walt Dabney, Texas Parks and Wildlife Director of State Parks spoke during the program. “What a champion of the state parks system. Bristol never quit. He didn’t do it for himself; he did it for the people of Texas.”
Parks supporters in Texas have much to celebrate since the session concluded on May 31. As a result of bills passed at the end of the Texas Legislature’s 80th session, the state parks system will see its annual operating budget effectively doubled for the next two years. And House Bill 12, which removed the longtime funding cap imposed on revenue generated from the state sporting goods sales tax to be used for parks funding, was approved on the last day of the session.
For years, George has worked closely with legislators, parks advocates, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administration to ultimately restore state parks funding in 2007. But, according to George, it took a number of years to align all the rings so that elected officials, the media, and supporters were all pulling in the same direction.
“I do appreciate the award,” said George. “I know there needs to be somebody who has the dream and can quarterback efforts like this, but I am mindful I couldn’t do it alone. Show me a quarterback who takes the field alone and I’ll show you someone who’s going to get killed. It takes a team to move a mountain.”
George is president of the Texas Coalition for Conservation, which helps diverse conservation-minded groups develop and promote a unified message to educate elected officials, other decision-makers, and the public about Texas’ vital need for substantial and sustainable conservation financing.