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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-04-23                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Bryan Frazier, TPWD, (512) 826-8703 or bryan.frazier@tpwd.texas.govRob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 23, 2010
Texas State Parks Launching New Reservations, Business Software System May 12
TxParks to Make Park Web Reservations Cheaper, Improve Park Pass Purchases
AUSTIN -- The state park system of Texas is scheduled to launch a new business software system this spring, that integrates customer-friendly features along with comprehensive and trackable real-time park and financial data, and is expected to improve numerous facets of the agency's business and reservation functions for parks.
A key benefit for park customers is that people making online camping reservations will no longer pay the extra $3 fee that has been traditionally charged for booking via the Web.
"In the long run, this will be very beneficial for the millions of people who love our state parks, and for our state agency," said Walt Dabney, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state parks director. "However, we do ask folks to bear with us on a few short-term inconveniences. We'll have to temporarily suspend statewide park reservations for two weeks when we transition to TxParks. And there may be occasional delays to pay and enter some parks the first few weeks as we break in the new system."
The new system, coined TxParks, is scheduled to go live May 12, and is being implemented across the board at all 93 state park locations as well as the park Customer Service Center for centralized reservations, which is located at the division's Austin headquarters. Phase 1 of the new system, which has been contracted out to Active Network, a company specializing in outdoor reservations software, has been in development for more than two years.
In order to meet the system's go live date in May, the park's central reservation desk and all internet reservations will be temporarily suspended for two weeks, beginning at 6 p.m. April 27, while the new software is installed, and then resume business as usual at 9 a.m. on May 12. During this hiatus of the main central reservations office, park visitors can still contact the Customer Service Center with questions, but those needing to make reservations, will need to contact each park individually during those two weeks.
Although the new system is expected to make wholesale improvements to most all aspects of future park services-such as faster on-site customer processing, site fulfillment of State Parks Passes, as well as improved state park reservations-customers may experience some interim delays, as park operations migrate to the new platform. However, steps have been taken to reduce the amount of down time associated with the switchover, such as installing the new system after the annual spring break camping reservations rush.
"For starters, Phase 1 of this new system launch will make state park annual pass cards now immediately available for folks to take with them as soon as they purchase one; no more temporary cards or lag time waiting through the mail. And they can use their park pass and discounts on their very first visit," said Mike Crevier, state parks business management director. "By eliminating the fee that is currently being charged to campers who want to make a reservation over the internet, we hope to encourage more folks to use the convenience of online reservations."
Other benefits to the system include the availability of new State Park Gift Cards, which can be procured at any park and redeemed as a cash equivalent for any park purchase or rental, such as entrance or camping fees, state park store merchandise, canoe or kayak rental, or any other transaction. New, color-coded Parklands Passport cards, commonly called "Bluebonnet Passes," which are free to senior citizens, people with disabilities and disabled veterans, also will be available. All park-related pass cards will also now include a bar code and magnetic stripe on the back, and will be scan-able for customer data upon park entry.
Furthermore, the new holistic software program should also help the park system more efficiently serve its customers by simply knowing more about the kinds of things they want, as well as when and where they want them. The business software component is able to produce reports that more accurately calculate fiscal control, and track consumer trends, popular items and features.
For more information about Texas State Parks, contact (512) 389-8900, or visit the Web site at http://www.texasstateparks.org/.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 23, 2010
Major Construction Restoring, Improving Cleburne State Park
CLEBURNE -- Two major rebuilding projects at Cleburne State Park, one completed, the other about to start, restore important park features missing for years. Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife budgeted nearly $2.83 million for new structures which should become favorite draws for Cleburne visitors.
Already completed is a brand new, two-dorm group barracks buildings, complete with modern men's and women's bathrooms and a breezeway between. The barracks accommodate 44 guests in bunk beds.
A mid-summer start is expected for the second project, which includes new concession and bathhouse structures, separated by a breezeway. The former concession structure had been closed for several years, leaving the park without a store.
The Cleburne improvements represent another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at making the parks more fun, safer and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The concession and bathhouse project, located in a key area along the northwest side of spring-fed Cedar Lake near Cedar Grove Camping area and the playground, also includes restoring the surrounding area.
"It is located by the spring-fed lake," says project manager Greg Thelen "We're going to refurbish the beach area, cure some erosion problems, bring in sand and basically create a nice beach area."
With an anticipated 300-day work schedule, the two new buildings should be ready in time for summer 2011 guests. Cleburne gets about 60,000 guests annually.
"This bathhouse area is the premiere hang-out spot on the entire lake," says Thelen, "but it has deteriorated over time, along with the building, and people stopped using it. When this building is completed and this beach rebuilt, it will be a major day-use destination for people coming to the park."
The park has been without a store for six years, due to the condition of the old concession building. The new structure will offer room for a small, grill-type food service and a small store.
Just across Cedar Grove camping loop from the concession bathhouse, the group barracks are also a popular and appreciated feature. There is a strong demand at Cleburne and other state parks for barracks-style accommodations. Families, scout troops, church groups and others are among those leasing the entire unit.
The old barracks was in much use despite being held together, literally in some places, by baling wire. "It will be a great addition compared to what we had," says Park Superintendent Collis Park.
The new barracks are made from more durable material, will have modern and larger bathrooms with lockers for both genders, will be more energy efficient, and have built-in bathroom heaters and heated and air-conditioned dorms. Like all new Texas State Parks construction, they will meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards.
Visitors find plenty to do at Cleburne State Park, located just 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, and 14 miles from Cleburne.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps on the site where Native Americans and cowboy trail drivers used to camp, the park opened in 1938. The 528-acre park encircles 116-acre Cedar Lake, a no-wake lake that features a lovely three-tier spillway built by the CCC in 1935.
"We have people who bring their big boats, their pontoons, and we don't have any problem with it," Park says. "A lot of people like to kayak and canoe. They use fly rods. We are noted for a lot of crappie. Inland Fisheries (a division of Texas Parks and Wildlife) stock catfish in here every year. We're in the process of working with Inland Fisheries right now to improve our fishing."
The park has 58 campsites, all with water and either 30- or 50-amp hook-ups. Some include sewer facilities. There are also six screen shelters.
The heavily-wooded park is a draw for wildlife lovers, with plenty of raccoons, turkeys, ducks, bobcats, possums, rabbits and squirrels, plus plentiful songbirds and other native fliers. Trail bikers also are attracted to the six-miles of wooded hike and bike trails.
Watch the official TPWD Cleburne State Park video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luCTtzpn-lo
For more information on the park, call 817/645-4215. Or visit the Cleburne State Park website, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/cleburne
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 23, 2010
Improvements Rolling Out at Lake Whitney State Park
WHITNEY -- Spring brought a new activity to Lake Whitney State Park's popular mix of fishing, boating and wildlife watching: facility upgrading. Workmen are already busy on a host of improvements slated for this water-focused central Texas park.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is boosting electrical services in several Lake Whitney camp loops, adding new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant restrooms in the recreation hall, building a brand new restroom in one camping area, adding new sewer lines in another, and upgrading four screen shelters and their amenities to meet ADA standards.
Almost $3 million in improvements are scheduled for 45-year old Lake Whitney, another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at making the parks more fun, safer and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Lake Whitney Superintendent Jeffrey Towers said work began in early April on the first camping area most visitors see on entering. "We will get new electricity, new sewer and new water in the Big Trailer Park camp loop."
Most of the electrical work in that loop and several others consists of upgrading 30-amp outlets into the 50-amp pedestals needed by bigger and more energy-hungry modern camping vehicles. Lake Whitney State Park has numerous camping areas and four will get 50-amp outlets.
"They are mobilizing to really get after it," said TPWD project manager Greg Thelen. "Work will be staggered where possible to avoid shutting down too many camping sites at once. They will mainly focus first on the Big Trailer Park loop," said Thelen. "Once that is done, we are going to hit the rest of the (affected) loops in succession."
Many sites get more than upgraded. Eight current "water only" sites will also get 50-amp electrical pedestals and sewer capability. All the water lines are being replaced in the Big Trailer Park camping loop.
Improvements will not stop there. The park's recreational hall will get two new ADA-compliant restrooms, one each for men and women, to supplement its current restrooms. The building's entrance and exit will be modified to meet ADA standards.
ADA modifications are also coming to four of the park's 21 screen shelters -- three in the main shelter area and one in the group camp area.
Most of the shelter improvements are outside, Thelen said. "It means pouring a concrete pad for parking that meets ADA standards, followed by a sidewalk, picnic table and a campfire ring, all of which are ADA compliant.
Yet another project, this one serving campers on the east side of the park, is the replacement of an existing restroom with a modern facility that is Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) compliant.
For swimmers and boaters, the park -- only 61 miles south of Fort Worth and 38 miles northwest of Waco -- is a doorway to almost all of 23,560-acre Lake Whitney on the Brazos River. The Lake was formed in 1951 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the river.
Located along the lower eastern shore of Lake Whitney three miles southwest of Whitney, the park is naturally geared to water lovers. Most of its camping areas are directly along the shore. In fact, many of the park's 131 campsite spaces are on small fingers of land jutting into the lake.
Many campers can stroll right into the water from their campsites, Towers said. "Most of our shoreline is rocky, but the swimming area is sandy. There are some small bluffs."
The park covers about 800 acres of both open and wooded land. There are two trails, each about a mile long, one for hiking only, the other for hiking and biking. A boat launch ramp can handle small flatbottoms to large pontoons. Nature lovers will find a wildlife observation blind on the east side of the park and an interpretive trail on the west side.
Lake Whitney is one of the few Texas State Parks boasting a private plane airstrip. "We have some people camping under their planes," said park office manager Sandra Davis. "The other campers go look at their planes and talk about them." Miniature aircraft groups also use the 2,000-foot paved runway.
Wildlife watching ranks high among Lake Whitney's most popular activities. Campers may spot deer, wild turkey, raccoons, possums, the occasional coyote or bobcat and, for the lucky and sharp-sighted, now and then a bald eagle. Feathered predators also include several kinds of hawks. Bird watchers can count on being busy; almost 200 winged species have filled birder checklists here.
Watch the official TPWD Lake Whitney State Park video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqa68_Kiih0
For more information on the park, call 254/694-3793. Or visit the Lake Whitney State Park website, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lake_whitney
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