Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

TPWD Activities and History

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides outdoor recreational opportunities by managing and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat and acquiring and managing parklands and historic areas. It has inherited the functions of many state entities created to protect Texas' natural resources. In 1895 the legislature created the Fish and Oyster Commission to regulate fishing. The Game Department was added to the commission in 1907. The State Parks Board was created as a separate entity in 1923. In the 1930s, projects of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps added substantially to the state's parklands. In 1951, the term oyster was dropped from the wildlife agency's name, and in 1963, the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission were merged to form the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The legislature placed authority for managing fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department when it passed the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1983. Previously, commissioners courts had set game and fish laws in many counties, and other counties had veto power over department regulations.

Texas State Library and Archives (TSLAC) has provided a web exhibit called "To Love the Beautiful: The Story of Texas State Parks." This exhibit includes numerous documents and images from the Texas State Archives, and tells the story of the early days of the Texas State Parks Board, how the early state parks were created in the throes of the Great Depression, how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department came to be, and how the Texas state parks system evolved into the one we know today.

Currently, the agency has 11 internal divisions: Wildlife, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement, State Parks, Infrastructure, Legal, Administrative Resources, Communications, Human Resources and Information Technology. Two senior executive staff provide special counsel to the executive director in the areas of operations and administrative matters. Intergovernmental affairs as well as internal audit and investigations are administered through the Executive Office.


To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.


In fulfilling our mission, we will:

  • Be a recognized national leader in implementing effective natural resources conservation and outdoor recreational programs;
  • Serve the state of Texas, its citizens, and our employees with the highest standards of service, professionalism, fairness, courtesy, and respect;
  • Rely on the best available science to guide our conservation decisions;
  • Responsibly manage agency finances and appropriations to ensure the most efficient and effective use of tax-payer and user fee resources;
  • Attract and retain the best, brightest, and most talented workforce to successfully execute our mission.


Contact Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Carter Smith
Executive Director
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas  78744
Phone: (512) 389-4800
Toll Free: (800) 792-1112


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Texas

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator
Related Success Stories for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Binational Ocelot Recovery Project
Conservation agencies, organizations and foundations in Texas and Tamaulipas, Mexico team up with landowners to save the endangered ocelot through incentives-based stewardship.

Bob Long Safe Harbor
Recovery of the Houston toad by providing safe harbor assurances and incentives to private landowners for their participation in habitat restoration and enhancement

Central Texas Sustainability Partnership
Conflict over habitat for two endangered species resulted in a diverse working group able to address the needs of both the species and affected landowners.

Houston Toad Recovery
Recovery of the Houston toad by providing safe harbor assurances and incentives to private landowners for their participation in habitat restoration and enhancement.

Houston-Galveston Navigation Channels
Inter-agency coordination effort restores key commercial navigation channel, using dredged materials to create two islands and over 4,000 acres of wetlands in Galveston bay.

Marsh Terracing Project
The project incorporated marsh terracing to restore fishery habitat and to test the cost effectiveness of this new restoration technique.

Salt Cedar Brush Management
Texas Landowners with federal cost-share funds are eradicating Salt Cedar in sections of the Canadian River to increase flow and benefit listed fish species.

Texas Master Naturalist Program
Master Naturalist volunteers provide education, outreach and service dedicated to beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.