TPWD News Release — April 23, 2012
AUSTIN – Why not do something special this Mother’s Day by treating mom to an outdoor adventure and a picnic lunch amid appetite-stimulating scenery at a one of more than 90 Texas State Parks. Not only will mom and the family enjoy a healthier and happier day, but they also will be helping state parks close a budget gap.
After dining al fresco, take mom on a nature trail hike, go mountain biking, rent a canoe or pose for family photos among this year’s bumper wildflower crop. Texas boasts 94 state parks and historic sites in every corner of the state and within a short drive of major metropolitan areas that need your support now more than ever. Twelve state parks are located within an hour’s drive of Austin, nine within an hour’s drive of San Antonio, eight parks less than an hour away from folks living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and seven about an hour’s drive from Houston.
State parks offer an affordable and wholesome way to celebrate holidays, such as Mother’s Day, and spend time with family and friends. Children 12 and younger receive free entrance and senior citizens who meet certain qualifications may receive discounted entry fees. As always, Texas State Park Pass holders enjoy waived entry fees for themselves and their guests. To see what’s going on in Texas state parks Mother’s Day weekend, visit: www.texasstateparks.org/mothersday.
Visitor fees pay for roughly half of the cost to operate the state park system, so visiting state parks is the most important way people can help the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department close a $4.6 million funding gap caused in large part by a drop off in visitation due to last year’s record heat, drought and wildfires. Since early December, donations from organizations, businesses and thousands of park lovers have brought in more than $1.7 million, but parks aren’t financially out of the woods yet.
Several Houston area families will get a jump on Mother’s Day festivities by camping and cooking out at Brazos Bend State Park near Needville a week prior to Mother’s Day, which this year falls on Sunday, May 13.
Chef Tiffany Blackmon from The Texas Beef Council will be at the park at lunchtime on Monday, May 7, to demonstrate to visiting families how easy it is to prepare a healthy picnic meal for mom. Council representatives will share tips on how to make budget-friendly picnicking easy and fun through proper preparation and safe food handling. To review a variety of camping-friendly recipes, visit: http://www.texasstateparks.org/mothersday
After lunch, park interpretive staff will take families on an Elm Lake nature hike and will conduct an interpretive show-and-tell with baby American alligators. The alligator is the Brazos Bend State Park mascot and gators are readily seen in many areas of the 5,000-acre park that fronts 3.5 miles of the Brazos River.
A mother alligator serves as a great role model, guarding her cache of buried eggs to dig up when she hears the first chirps of her offspring. Adult females often hang around their babies for up to a year to protect them from predators such as bullfrogs and bass.
Brazos Bend State Park’s outdoor cooking demonstration and interpretive program on May 7 is one of dozens of tourism events being held throughout Texas to celebrate Texas Travel and Tourism Week, May 5-13, which coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week. State parks play a vital role in the overall Texas travel industry that in 2010 generated $ 57.9 billion in direct travel spending and supported 529,000 jobs, according to the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Office.
To learn about state parks near you and the various activities and events they offer, or to make online overnight reservations, visit http://www.texasstateparks.org . You can also call 1-800-792-1112, option 3, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an overnight reservation.
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