In 1895, the Texas Legislature created the Fish and Oyster Commission to regulate fishing. The legislature added the Game Department to the commission in 1907. The Legislature created the State Parks Board as a separate entity in 1923. In 1963, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was formed through merger of the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission.
In 1983, the Texas legislature passed the Wildlife Conservation Act, giving the department the authority for managing fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties. The department operates 95 state parks and historic sites, 51 wildlife management areas, eight fish hatcheries, and numerous field offices statewide.
On January 1, 2008 and September 1, 2019, TPWD transferred management of several historic sites to the Texas Historical Commission.