Park Pick: You've Got A Friend
Thanks to passionate advocates, McKinney Falls is better than ever.
By Tommy Cude
If you’re a regular at McKinney Falls State Park, you may have met a few of our staff members. Our 15 staffers are here to welcome you and to make sure you have a quality experience. We keep things working in this 774-acre park that’s been compared to a small city, with more than 300,000 visitors each year. Our park, located 13 miles from the state Capitol, opened in 1976.
We are experts at ranger-ing. We can fix things that break — sinks, water lines or picnic tables. We’re expert at making visitors feel comfortable so they can enjoy the pleasures of the park. But if truth be told, we want to do even more. And for that, we know we need a little help from our friends.
We revived a Friends of McKinney Falls State Park group with great results. These intrepid individuals routinely lead programs that introduce visitors to everything from atlatl competitions to wildflower identification. Because of our friends, the park offers nature hikes, even at night. They sell ice and firewood to visitors, and all the profits go back to the park.
Recently, our friends group extended such a hearty welcome to the young adults from AmeriCorps and the National Civilian Community Corps (who have donated 2,400 hours of service to park projects) that McKinney Falls received a prestigious sponsor award.
Soon, our visitors center will reopen after flood (2013 and 2015) repairs. Operated by our friends group, the building will showcase the park’s gorgeous falls. It will feature new exhibits on entrepreneur Thomas McKinney, Texas history and El Camino Real de los Tejas. The friends group is also raising funds to build a bird blind, improve fish habitat in Onion Creek and create a nature playscape.
All parks need partners and advocates, so please step up to volunteer at your favorite park. We hope that for many of you, it’ll be McKinney Falls. After all, our friends get to do so much cool stuff.
Remember, you can never have too many friends. Find out more about our friends group at www.mckinneyfalls.org.
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