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Government Canyon State Natural Area to Open Mid-Week During Holidays
SAN ANTONIO – Texans looking to experience the beauty and adventure of the Texas Hill Country during holidays will find greater opportunity to enjoy the outdoors at Government Canyon State Natural Area in west Bexar County, beginning this Spring Break.
Texas State Parks has decided, starting March 13, to open the state natural area during select holidays throughout the year, including Christmas Day. Government Canyon typically has been open only four days a week, closing Tuesday through Thursday so staff can continue implementing a comprehensive natural resources plan.
During 2012, Government Canyon will remain open mid-week to accommodate holiday day users. New opening holiday dates are: March 13-15 (Spring Break), June 19 (Emancipation Day), July 3-5 (Independence Day), Nov. 20-22 (Thanksgiving) and Dec. 25-27 (Christmas).
“Despite recent statewide budget cutbacks that impacted our agency and resulted in losing employees, Government Canyon management saw an opportunity to increase access to the state natural area without diminishing the ability to effectively steward resources, provide customer service and ensure safety on busy weekends,” says state natural area Superintendent Chris Holm. “By choosing weeks during the year when we knew that a large number of people would be off from work or school, we felt we could offer a greater opportunity for Texans to visit, without jeopardizing our mission as a state natural area.”
Since opening in October 2005, Government Canyon State Natural Area has been closed mid-week so staff could work unimpeded on such tasks as conducting prescribed burns to return nearly 700 acres to natural grassland savannah and to enhance woodland and cave habitat for seven indigenous federally endangered species. Crews also have kept busy developing and maintaining almost 40 miles of hiking and biking trails to ensure visitors will be able to access the natural treasures found inside the natural area.
Being closed midweek also has allowed staff to move forward on development plans that have only been partially implemented since the opening. One long-awaited part of the plan is the opening of the first campground, which has been delayed due to staffing shortages and tight budgets.
“We are excited about opening camping for the citizens of San Antonio and beyond,” says Chris Holm, Government Canyon’s superintendent. “Despite the many challenges we’ve faced, we are moving forward with campground development by constructing two host sites for campground volunteers, who can help run the campground. Otherwise, the campground would have to remain closed until we have enough paid staff to responsibly manage it.”
Although no formal campground opening date, Holm says that soon, nature enthusiasts, scouting groups and families will have the opportunity to enjoy an evening star-gazing, learning about nature during evening ranger programs and telling stories around a campfire.
For further information and to view a schedule for future years, visit the Government Canyon page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/government_canyon/ or visit us on Facebook.
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