Texas Weather Blasts Nature Tourism

Natural disasters and drought have taken a toll on Texas nature tourism this year. In an average year — nature tourism has a nearly 16-billion dollar impact on the state's economy. But this year Texas took some losses in the tourism department. Laurie Johnson has more.
Hurricane Ike, along with buddies Gustav, Edouard and Dolly, threw a giant party along the Texas Gulf Coast that will take months, if not years to clean up.

Other parts of the state were ravaged by wildfires. And Texas had a tough drought this summer as well.

Miles Phillips is a nature tourism expert at Texas A&M University.

"You get blow-down of trees. You get saltwater intrusion into areas, which kills off certain vegetation. I've had reports of fish kills. You know it's the kind of thing -- it's cyclical and these things are part of the natural cycle. There will be damages in place to place and that cycle will mean that a place may change."

Places may change so much that nature tourism to those areas won't be possible for quite some time.

"We have a lot of out-of-state visitors that come here. We're internationally known for the variety and quality of birdwatching. Hunting is obviously well-established and significant in Texas."

Camping, fishing and wildflower viewing are all affected by the crazy Texas weather this year.

State officials don't yet have estimates on how all of this will affect the bottom line.

But nature, being what it is, will recover.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...