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TPWD News Release — May 14, 2010

Kickapoo Caverns State Park to Host Grand Opening Event June 12

Park Set to Open Daily After Years of Limited Access

BRACKETTVILLE, Texas – After operating as a limited-access park for more than 20 years, Kickapoo Caverns State Park will host an all-day grand opening event free to the public on Saturday, June 12, commemorating the park’s official opening of its doors on a daily basis.

Thanks in large part to increases in appropriated funding from the Texas Legislature in the previous two bienniums, the Texas State Park system was able to hire staff and develop more public facilities and trails, making it possible to safely accommodate a higher volume of visitors at the scenic Hill Country park, and operate regular business hours seven days a week.

Previously, park users could gain access past the locked gate only by advanced appointment and guided tour; now folks will be able to enjoy year-round recreation at Kickapoo for camping, hiking and biking on the more than 12 miles of developed and undeveloped trails, diverse birding opportunities, and viewings of popular seasonal bat flights.

The grand opening event, coined the Kickapoo Kickoff, will feature free camping for the weekend, as well as free admission on June 12, and an opening ceremony to dedicate the new Seargeant Memorial Trail near the park’s newly renovated visitor center is set for 10 a.m. that day. The trail is being dedicated in honor of the late Tommy Seargeant, former Kinney County Judge and rancher. Mr. Seargeant owned the property before selling it to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to become a state park, fulfilling his wishes that the public be able to enjoy what he considered a special and unique part of Texas.

Hiking tours, birding tours, plant and nature walks, hands-on archaeology activities, mountain biking (bikes and helmets provided), and wild cave tours of Kickapoo Cavern are also scheduled for visitors throughout the day, beginning early at 7:30 a.m., with the last activity scheduled for around 5 p.m.

Later in the evening just before sunset, staff and volunteers will also be leading visitors to one of the park’s most renowned attractions: bat flight viewing tours of Stuart Bat Cave, where hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at dusk for their nightly hunting trip for insects during warm weather months.

“Kickapoo Caverns is just a wonderful place to see nature. It’s had little traffic for all these years, and now we’re able to open it up for all of Texas,” said Mike Knezek, park superintendent. “We’re known for our bats, but the park is 6,400 acres with lots of other things to do. We also have 20 campsites for folks to use, and being a camping park, we can do programs like night hikes and star gazing. Out here, there aren’t many neighbors or cities to emit a lot of light pollution or distract from all the sights and sounds of the outdoors. And, we think being open all the time will be a boost to the local economy as people find out what we have.”

Visitors are encouraged to bring some essentials to attend Kickapoo Cavern State Park’s grand opening: sunscreen for outdoor activities, and sturdy shoes and flashlights for hiking and cave tours. And because much of the park is undeveloped and in a remote location—23 miles north of the nearest town of Brackettville on Ranch Road 674—folks will also want to bring drinking water and pack a picnic lunch. Some restaurants, food and convenience items are also available in surrounding towns, all of which are at least a half-hour’s drive from the park.

Reservations are required for those who are interested in camping anytime during the weekend of June 11-12 for the grand opening event.

“Kickapoo is a park that has so many treasures: the bats, the cave resources—and it is rich with birds, even endangered species such as the black-capped vireo; Kickapoo is always abuzz with bird sounds,” said Linda Hedges, state park regional interpretive specialist. “The park is home to all of those things and more, and we want to give it its moment in the sun with a kickoff event, and showcase another unique part of Texas.”

For more information, contact the state parks Customer Service Center at (512) 389-8900, or Kickapoo Cavern State Park at (830) 563-2342, or visit the park’s Web site at www.texasstateparks.org.

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