State parks remain open for the time being

by By Cristin Parker

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) is keeping state parks open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Texas state parks are open, and our staff is ready to welcome you for the day or for overnight stays,” Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin stated in a letter to park visitors, released on TPWD’s website. “Outdoor spaces are well suited to increased social distance, but we still must remain diligent in taking steps to make your visit as safe and enjoyable as possible.

In a release published on the TPWD’s website, officials report, “We are working to keep your family healthy on your next visit to Texas state parks.

“The parks are open, but we’ve made some changes. Most events will continue as planned, though we have changed or cancelled events that involve shareable or touchable materials. We are temporarily suspending equipment rentals (kayaks, etc.).

“Further changes are possible as we receive new information from health authorities.

“We will close any park that has a connection to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Check our alert map for closures. If you are diagnosed after visiting a park, please call the park to let them know.”

Park restrooms and other facilities are cleaned daily and will be cleaned more often on busy days.

“We always clean cabins and other buildings between each guest stay,” TPWD’s website states. “At least twice daily, we will wipe down hard surfaces and other commonly touched items in both public and staff areas with a disinfectant.

“We will provide hand soap in all bathrooms and hand sanitizer in facilities without running water. Bring your own hand cleaning materials for extra safety.”

TPWD also recommends visitors purchase and print camping and day-use permits at home before making a trip. This will minimize or even eliminate time spent in the park office.

Some folks may prefer to stay home during this time. Anyone with a camping or day-use reservation that begins any time in March, can cancel it without penalty by calling the Customer Service Center at (512) 389-8900.

“We appreciate your loyalty and trust,” Franklin said. “With the uncertain and evolving health situation in the U.S., our highest priority is the health and well-being of our visitors, volunteers and employees.”