TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL FEASIBILITY STUDY
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
The purpose for solicitation of private sector expertise and funding capital is to determine whether nature-based lodging and accompanying environmental education programs would be appropriate for development on or adjacent to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) properties. The completed proposal should appear in the form of an economic feasibility/environment education assessment of these added facilities. The study must include both overnight accommodations and education center. Specifically, these studies would assess the program's potential for revenue generation to both benefit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the program operator, along with the program's potential environmental impact. These facilities would serve local and regional recreational and educational needs while enhancing economic development. Because state parks have established user visitation patterns, this initial study will be limited to twenty-four (24) parks located throughout the state. Requests for additional State Parks and Wildlife Management Area studies may be issued following the completion of this initial process. (See appendix 1 for complete list).
Successful proposals will develop an abstract on parks selected by prospective proposers listed for study. This abstract should be a preliminary and brief overview of the sites selected, the relative conditions of each site, and the process to be utilized to complete the economic feasibility and environmental impact of overnight lodging/educational center development. This abstract should deal with each site individually. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will review submitted abstract(s) and award prospective proposers with the right to begin work on a larger economic feasibility and environmental impact study and ultimate proposal to develop and operate nature-based lodging/education centers. This initial development will be limited to six (6) state parks. Following the award for study, proposers will have one (1) year to complete prospective research and study, develop the prospectus and formulate a proposal. The entire cost for the research, study, and analysis and production of all submitted documents will be at the expense of the prospective proposer and at not cost to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In consideration for completion of this proposal and all activity leading to submission of the final document Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will grant an exclusive right to negotiate a contract one (1) with a maximum of four (4) nature based lodging/educational centers in state parks. This exclusive right will be for a period of six (6) months only and will involve negotiation of contract following a standard program through the State Park leased concessions program. The lodge facilities will be developed according to agreed terms between the agency and the awarded developer.
The final study will become the property of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. They shall be considered public records which may be disclosed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to any person upon request, unless the prospective proposer believes that the proposal contains trade secrets or confidential commercial or financial information exempt from disclosure, in which case those parts of each proposal shall be clearly marked as "TRADE SECRETS", "CONFIDENTIAL" or "PROPRIETARY" on each page. Information in a proposal identified by a prospective proposer will be reviewed by the Attorney General's Office to determine if this information is exempt for disclosure.
All requests for information are subject to the Attorney General's legal interpretation of the Texas Open Records Act. Usually all proposals are exempt from public disclosure and not released until the completion of the proposal and contracting award process.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, State, or its employees shall not in any way be liable or responsible for the disclosure of any such records, or any part thereof, if disclosure is required under the Texas Open Records Act or otherwise by law.
The intent of this request for proposals is to establish:
- Detailed research facts concerning the type of lodge based on economic and environmental factors.
- Detailed research facts concerning the type of lodge and environmental education facility that would blend well with the park's environment and have the lowest possible environmental impact.
- Detailed analysis estimating the costs of creating, maintaining, and operating the facility and comparing these costs with estimates of the project's potential for revenue generation.
- Detailed analysis estimating the potential environmental impact of the facility from all sources (e.g., increased visitation, the functioning of the facility itself, etc.) and determining whether this impact is justified given the revenue created.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides outdoor recreational opportunities by acquiring and managing parklands and historical areas and managing and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. It is responsible for protecting, interpreting and managing cultural and natural resources of statewide significance and providing outdoor recreational opportunities. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department oversees more than 600,000 acres of land owned or leased by the state, including 123 state parks, historic sites and natural areas, and approximately three quarters of a million acres in 52 wildlife management areas (WMA). WMA's represent the diversity of Texas habitats and provide opportunities for research on wildlife populations and habitats, public hunting, and an assortment of other outdoor recreational opportunities.
Within the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recreation site destinations, staff has observed the following trends:
- Park users want more interpretation/educational programming.
- Parks and Wildlife Management Areas rank high as premier destinations for watchable wildlife and birding activities.
- Overnight users are seeking more comfortable accommodations.
- Demand for lodge rooms, cabins, and shelters far exceed availability. These facilities are reserved months in advance with many requests being unfulfilled.
- Indian Lodge, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's full service lodging facility remains immensely popular and enjoys an annual occupancy comparable to the national hotel/motel average.
- During the immediate past years, Texas Parks and Wildlife has experienced a decrease in overnight camping revenues, while revenues from day use have increased.
In addition to recreation, the visiting public is becoming more interested in natural, cultural, and historic settings as well as exposure to wildlife areas. State Park visitors seek information about these natural and cultural resources to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the park's resources. Communication or the park's natural, cultural, and historical assets can be accomplished through interpretive and educational programs, and the development of such programs would increase the public's enjoyment of the park.
Traditional outdoor recreation and park use demands are in transition in Texas and demand for these new services will increase in the near future. Understanding that Texans do the majority of travelling in Texas, TPWD must formulate new goals for its users to include the changes in demand.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed partnerships with private entities on many state-owned lands. Public/private partnerships (leased concessions for these types of developments) are becoming more commonplace in the Texas State Park System. Today, state park concessions offer increased economic benefit in many smaller communities while generating revenues to help reduce operating costs. Typical concessions include lodges, marinas, recreational equipment rentals, food service operations, equestrian facilities, park stores, and other accommodations. Public/private partnerships, where appropriate, seek to provide high-quality services, programs, facilities, and opportunities that enhance enjoyment, convenience, and recreational experience for state park
The general intent of the leased concession opportunities is to provide the public with reasonably priced facilities and services in a manner which conserves, preserves, and enhances the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the care and management of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the people of Texas.
Adherence to the general concessionaire guidelines developed by the TPWD should be considered during the development of the final feasibility studies. The guidelines include general information on facility development, public services required of concessionaire, financial requirements or concessionaire, the business operation (personnel, training, rates charges, etc.), the process for leased concessionaire selection and the contracting period (terms and requirements). The guidelines will be made available upon request.
Natural and Cultural Resources
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is charges with the "…demonstration of the stewardship for the State's diverse natural and cultural resources." In meeting this charge the Department shall serve as a model of compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the environmental laws and regulations. Sound principals of natural resource management shall guide operational activities and facility management. For all concession improvements, planning, design, construction, operation and repair of park facilities shall be conducted and managed in a manner consistent with the protection and conservation of biodiversity and Departmental objectives. Cultural resources will be left undisturbed unless disturbance activities are required and archeological clearances are obtained, mitigation may be required. Should a mitigation process be agreed, the resulting mitigation will be at the expense of the contracted Concessionaire and at no cost to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or Texas Historical Commission.
Potentially applicable laws are regulations that may affect the development and implementation of this management plan are:
- Clean Water Act of 1977 (33 USC 1251 et. seq.)
- National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16 USC 470 et. seq.)
- Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USC 1531 et. seq.)
- Texas Natural Resources Code of 1977, Title 9, Chapter 191
- Parks and Wildlife Code - Chapter 43, subchapter C, and Chapters 67 & 68
It is envisioned that this project will include, but not be limited to private firms, professional organizations and individuals. Evaluations will be structured to select the optimum combination of expertise and talent to complete the task. The department reserves the right to make multiple awards under this request for proposals.
II GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goals and objectives of this study are to identify:
- Economic impact of lodge development and maintenance on individual state parks.
- Projected effects of development on visitation rates at State Parks.
- Outdoor recreation and natural conservation needs for the specified state park(s).
- Means of increasing citizen involvement in natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation.
- Environmental impact on state lands caused by the development and increased visitation.
- Alternate development strategies to mitigate negative environmental impacts.