Last week I used this space to verbally backhand one of the Texas Parks and Wildlife initiatives that I feel is moronic. This week I’m here to sing their praises because as much as I disagree with them on certain topics I think that the majority of the time their programs are right on. So this time I’m here to give a pat on the back to the Texas State Parks program.
This subject has come to light due to the recent plea by TPWD for people to visit the parks because of a loss in revenue. TPWD is coming up short on the money needed to pay the operating expenses on state parks, half of which is provided by usage fees. Attendance at parks has dropped considerably over the past year due to drought and wildfires. I know this past spring we redirected one camping trip from a state park that had a burn ban to another that did not. When the whole state was under a burn ban many people canceled camping trips altogether.
There are at least 12 state parks within a two hour drive of my front door, and I’m betting there are just as many around you as well, so there is no excuse not to visit one sometime in the next few months. No matter what outdoor hobby you participate in you can do it in a state park.
Since it’s fall/winter we won’t spend a lot of time on water based recreation opportunities but just understand that most state parks have well manicured swimming areas, canoes for rent, and plenty of room to fish (and you don’t even need a license if you are fishing inside the park). As a matter of fact, Tyler State Park is one of the areas stocked with trout in the winter giving you a unique fishing opportunity. Check this website for stocking locations and dates throughout the state. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/trout_stocking.phtml
For mountain bikers and hikers there are countless well maintained trails throughout many of the state parks. These trails range from simple hikes around lakes to single tracks often used in mountain bike and adventure races. For a $5 or less daily entrance fee it’s hard to find better biking trails than those offered in our state park system.
Texas state parks even have items to educate and entertain those interested in the history of the region. Dinosaur Valley State Park has ancient footprints from when lizards roamed south of Dallas and Hueco State Park has pictographs dating back thousands of years.
There are parks for bird watchers, equestrians, campers, history buffs, geocaching; I’ve even watched a movie under the stars with my family at Martin Creek State Park. If you enjoy spending any time outside there is no reason not to visit a park this year.
For more information on Texas State Parks visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/