People visiting Texas parks are like a Tea Party convention -- they're white, old and cranky.
That's not quite the spin the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department puts on the results from their latest customer survey, but it seems pretty clear to us.
TPWD surveyed 27,000 customers over five years and found most people satisfied with things, except for the damn bathrooms and showers, which is a favorite subject for old people to bitch about, after taxes, noisy kids with their iPeddies, and sex on TV.
Overnight and daily visitors "indicated they wanted to see more improvements in restrooms and showers. Lack of upkeep of such facilities perennially ranks as the top reason for dissatisfaction with Texas state parks," TPWD said.
Such concerns will be addressed through the agencies "Getting Better All the Time," initiative, which itself sounds like a way to attract the youngsters....through song that's more than 40 years old.
Still, it's a start. And TPWD says it wants to attract more kids and Hispanics.
Only one-third of visitors to state parks come with children, the survey showed.
"This does not bode well for the future of conservation in Texas" said Walt Dabney, Texas state parks director. "If children aren't exposed to nature at an early age, they are unlikely to participate in nature-based activities as adults or become stewards of these natural places. State parks offer a safe and accessible way for today's urban youth to experience the natural world and we must do all we can to let Texas parents know that these are their public places to enjoy."
Another finding -- few Hispanics use the parks. (Except the ones on the border, WHICH THEY USE TO ENTER THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY, we add in all-caps to save certain commenters the trouble.)
Except for "a handful of parks" (see above, although we're seeking further info from TPWD), "park visitation by Hispanics is very low," the agency said. While Hispanics make up 37 percent of the state population -- "and this population will be the majority demographic group by 2030," TPWD notes -- only 11 percent of them go to the state parks.
The agency has contracted with a San Antonio marketing firm to see how to improve that. We suggest they start by finding a popular 50-year-old Hispanic song to title the campaign.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.