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The Winter 2011 Edition of State Parks Getaways is Here!
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent this bulletin on January 12, 2011 01:43 PM

State Parks Getaways Winter 2011 header

Resolve to Get Back to Nature … and Take the Kids

Lifes better outside videoIf you’re thinking this is the year to make a change in your life, we have some ideas.

What’s cheaper than a movie, healthier than a veggie plate, and way more fun and creative than a video game?
Time spent outside --- where life really is better. Read about the influence of time outdoors on health and well-being and ideas to help your family “go outside and play”. Get reconnected to nature and to your kids!

Time spent in nature improves health and well-being, reduces stress and builds self-esteem and confidence --- for you and especially for your kids. You don’t have to look further than the smile on your child’s face to know it’s true.

If you need more inspiration, watch this video reminder of what Texas State Parks have to offer your family.  

Become a Camping Family – No Experience Needed

Texas Outdoor Family video The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled a full calendar of Texas Outdoor Family workshops in 2011 designed to introduce even more families to the ease and joy of camping. 
 
Watch a video to see what to expect on a workshop weekend. Since the program’s inception in 2008, over 1,300 families have participated, and 87 percent of these families had not camped in a Texas state park in the last five years.

“It was such a great experience,” Stephanie Jamail says. “We learned what it takes to prepare ourselves to go camping, what size tent and what kind of gear we need, and how easy it is to use state parks.”

The Jamail Family of Mountain City, attended a workshop at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet last year. Darryl Jamail and his wife Stephanie, who have children ranging from 5 to 9 years of age, hadn’t been camping in more than 25 years and were hesitant to take their youngsters on a campout.  But Darryl says the supply list provided by workshop organizers after they had signed up proved to be a great “jump starter” and found the overnight camping trip fun for all.

The workshops cost $65 per family for up to six people. All that campers need to bring are sleeping bags or bedding, personal items, and food and drinks. Skilled outdoor specialists and trained volunteers provide hands-on instruction in everything from setting up a tent and building a fire to how to promote environmental awareness in children.

Take an Epic Mountain Bike Ride in Big Bend Ranch State Park

Take an Epic bike ride videoIt’s a wild ride through the Wild West. The Fresno-Saucedo Loop mountain bike trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park has landed coveted kudos, named as the only Epic ride in Texas by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), and one of only two in the southwestern U.S. This press release provides more details.

 “The Fresno – Sauceda ‘Dream Ride’ is the quintessential Epic ride,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife staff writer Karen Hoffman Blizzard, who wrote of her experience in the November 2009 issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.  “It takes you out of the ordinary and into the Zone.” Read her first-hand account.

Check out this video to understand why this park is becoming a destination for mountain bikers. Its 300,000 acres of incredible desert is a vast playground that can challenge even the most hardened biker. The old four-wheel-drive jeep roads, single-track spur trails, side canyon hikes, stunning scenery, cultural treasures and natural resources make for great biking adventures. To learn more about the many miles of trails, read the Big Bend Ranch State Parks’ Mountain Biking Guide on the Web.

Try out the Epic Ride trail and many others at the Chihuahuan Desert Dirt Fest, featuring three days of spring riding in Big Bend Ranch State Park and surrounding area, February 17 – 19, 2011. There’s a ride for all skill levels. 

Gear Up for Spring Fishing

Gear up for spring fishing videoWishing you could get back to fishing or try it for the first time? The first step is getting some gear together. The fishing department of a local sporting goods store can be overwhelming, but don’t let that get in your way. This video will help you get the gear basics in hand. Then check out a list of state parks where you and your family can fish without a fishing license. Children age 12 and younger can enter state parks for free. Fishing can be an inexpensive activity that may become a lifelong hobby.

State Parks Still Getting Better All the Time

CCC CabinSome of your favorite parks will be looking even better this year.
 
A full slate of major repair projects under way this year are designed to rejuvenate the aging Texas state park system and greatly improve customer service, thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and statewide voters.

Listen to audio stories from "Passport To Texas" describing the changes in Dallas/Ft. Worth area parks, Palmetto State Park, near Luling and Gonzales, and Garner State Park.

Some capital repair projects will address the most-cited concern among Texas state park visitors: aging and deteriorating bathrooms in state park campgrounds and cabins.

The legislature appropriated $69 million in bonds in 2007 to fix up historic structures, electrical and water/wastewater systems and bathrooms, and bring park infrastructure into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most of the money, $44 million, is for dozens of state park repair projects underway across Texas. The legislature also approved $25 million in bonds to dry berth the Battleship Texas.

Debunking State Parks Myths

Camping and PicnickingRumors abound about state parks. These "Passport To Texas" radio stories do some myth-busting of a few common fears. Listen to and share these stories to quell the misinformation.

Myth #1 State parks are boring.
 
Myth #2 In order to get the most out of the experience you have to go extreme.

Myth #3: State Parks are filled with dangerous and scary animals. 

Ashe Juniper: There’s More to it Than Cedar Fever.

Ashe juniperThe much-maligned Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei), an evergreen infamous for causing the seasonal allergy know as “cedar fever,” plays an essential and positive role as a Hill Country native shrub and tree.

Read about this important member of the Hill Country environment in this article from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Supporting many species with food and shelter, the bark of old growth Ashe juniper trees is an essential nesting material for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler which nests only in central Texas.

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