Our park is many things. It’s a retreat, it’s a place for making
memories, and new adventures. When those who come to
park for adventures forget ‘smore supplies, bug spray, or want
a book to help them identify wildlife, they head to the park
store in our headquarters building.
Park employee, Felicia Lopez, runs the store and is the assistant
office manager. All the amazing swag and books found in
the store are her doing. It’s her personal touch that you see in
the designs from tee shirts, hats, buttons, and stickers.
December used to be our quiet season when visitation was
low, but it’s held steady as a busy season. In fact, our park store
has sold 50% more items this year than last year. Our park rentals
(kayaks, canoes, and bicycles) are the same as last year, and
due to Covid-19 we have heavy restrictions on rentals.
It’s been busy at our state parks and we hope that those
who find peace among the wild things continue to return long
after this pandemic is over. Thank you Felicia for keeping our
store stocked with the helpful items that allow visitors to feel
comfort, treasure memories, and explore more about the
wild world that they visit when here.
This month our park received a few updates.
Two park entry signs were placed at the entrance
of the Hen House Ridge unit along highway 190.
We’re planning on moving the utility poles surrounding
the new entry signs and
landscaping around them.
At our headquarters building, a large and
easy to understand after-hours camping check in
sign was erected, and an interpretive sign
about Martin Dies, Jr.
On the Walnut Ridge unit, a new information bulletin
board was placed in the front of the
nature center, and if you drive further
down the road you may notice a sign
pointing out an area where a logging tram
road once was.
New signs are a big deal in our parks.
There’s lots of team work, time, and effort
that goes into making them. The entry signs are all meant to be recognizable
from park to park. Some 32 state parks have been updated with these new
entry signs, another 60 or so to go. Informational signs such as Who Was
Martin Dies, Jr?, the tram road, and after-hours check-in are meticulously researched
and made to withstand the test of time, current camping rates, UV
rays, theft, and all types of weather. Next time you’re at the park I hope
these new signs catch your eye and make visiting the park more welcoming
This past month I did a lot of work in the wildflower gardens
around the nature center. I wanted to move an insect house from
one location to another, but I wasn’t sure who was currently using
it. I had to proceed carefully.
This insect house is divided into several
apartments with different
natural materials. Looking
at the house, I could see
plugs left from solitary
bees laying their eggs inside
the hollow parts of river cane. What else was hiding inside
the natural materials of this house?
As I delicately placing items from inside the insect
house aside, I uncovered several of the residents. Inside
the pinecone apartment lived several Daddy Long Legs.
Nestled in the pine needles was a slow
moving, very cold stinkbug. Although I
did not snap a photo
of it, there was something
with silk webbing inside the tree bark. I never found the resident,
but it could have been a jumping spider.
Each insect found a spot or apartment, that was that suited them. A house is nothing more than
four walls and a roof, but a home is a refuge. A home is a place to lay one’s head, rest, and feel safe.
Now when I look at the insect house, I know it is much more than a house, it’s a home.
By: Ranger Amy Kocurek
Black History Month Virtual Poetry Readings:
I’m looking for volunteers interested in reading poems or singing songs out
in scenic areas in the park for Black History Month. Is there a particular poem
or song that speaks to you that you want to share with others in honor of
Black History Month? Contact Ranger Amy. I can record the reading at any
time and the reader could be just a voice in nature or in the video.
High School Volunteers:
To sign-up to volunteer, click here!
We are now offering volunteer positions for high schoolers. Volunteering at
the park’s nature center can help youth gain experiences that will help with
college applications, and provide a look into the careers that Texas Parks
and Wildlife offers. The work they contribute can make a difference in how
park visitors view and understand nature.
Would you be interested in giving a virtual program? If so contact Ranger
Amy for more information.
• Kids Storytime. We have NEW BOOKS to choose from. They are fun nature
centered books that teach children about the natural world relating
to E. TX and you can use different props for show and tell after the story.
Would you be interested in doing an on-line program? If there’s a topic that
you’re passionate about sharing this might be a great way to share with an
Gerald Langham and Phillip Height for leading our first day Paddling
Information courtesy of park interpreter Amy Kocurek at firstname.lastname@example.org