|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-01-11                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Lydia SaldaƱa, (512) 389-4557, lydia.saldana@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 11, 2012
Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Donates $500,000 to Texas State Parks
AUSTIN - Today, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation board of trustees voted to donate $500,000 to Texas State Parks, hoping to encourage more donations to aid the state park system, which is facing a $4.6 million revenue shortfall caused by heat, drought, wildfires and a drop in park visitation.
"Our intent is to encourage many other donors large and small to step up and help keep our Texas State Parks open," said Kelly Thompson, TPW Foundation board chairman. "Our mission is to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and there has never been a greater need for private support of our parks. We will be aggressively seeking donations for state parks from private individuals, corporate partners, and other foundations to help reach the $4.6 million goal."
Not counting today's foundation donation, more than $460,000 has been raised since Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials appealed for help Dec. 6. That includes online and mailed donations and contributions through the new Texas motor vehicle opt-in donation program.
"We are deeply grateful to the foundation for today's generous contribution, and to all those who have donated in recent weeks," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "We have a long way to go yet, but with this gift we have raised close to $1 million toward our $4.6 million goal, a remarkable achievement in a short time. This is yet another indication of how much Texans care about their state parks."
Park officials continue to stress three ways Texans can help keep state parks open:
--Go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/helpparks to make a tax-deductible donation.
--Make a donation when you renew your motor vehicle registration.
--Finally, because visitor fees pay for about half of park system operating costs, visit state parks often with family and friends.
Park leaders are continuing their call for people to visit state parks, touting cooler weather, parks greening after recent rains, and campfires now allowed again in almost every state park. Check each park's web page online for the latest information.
To learn about the various Texas State Parks and their offerings, or to make online camping reservations, visit http://www.texasstateparks.org. Or call state park information at 1-800-792-1112, option 3, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Resources for news media, including photos of drought and wildfires, downloadable video, and radio news soundbites, are in a Park Awareness News Roundup online.
Since 1991, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been the official non-profit funding partner for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. By bringing together companies, corporations, communities and individuals, the Foundation has successfully raised more than $70 million benefiting a wide variety of projects.
On the Net:
TPWD News Roundup: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/state_parks_appeal_for_help/
Texas State Park Donations: http://tpwd.texas.gov/helpparks
TPW Foundation: http://tpwf.org/

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle 830-866-3533, rob.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Barrett Durst (432) 358-4444, barrett.durst@tpwd.texas.gov; Dan Sholly (512) 389-4866, dan.sholly@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 11, 2012
Desert Dirt Fest comes to Big Bend Ranch President's Day weekend
'The Chihuahuan Desert Dirt Fest' is scheduled to take place Feb. 16-18 in the Terlingua/Lajitas area of southwest Texas. The International Mountain Biking Association's internationally acclaimed and designated 54-mile Epic Ride in Big Bend Ranch State Park will be the festival's featured route on Feb. 18.
The Dirt Fest offers three days of riding opportunities for all levels of riders, from beginners on mostly flat, historic 4x4 double-track ranch roads to advanced riders taking on the challenging single-track of the Dome Trail and Rincon Loops or the Epic Ride up Fresno Canyon to Sauceda. The Lajitas and Contrabando trails are great places to develop and enhance mountain-bike riding skills, while at the same time experiencing and enjoying some of the wildest remaining desert landscapes in the United States.
Each day of the Dirt Fest there will be guided trips led by staff from Desert Sports, members of the Big Bend Trails Alliance and by Big Bend Ranch State Park rangers. Riders are welcome to ride on any of the trails without guides at their own pace. Guided rides in the park will accommodate advanced rider fitness and skill levels and mid-level rider fitness and skill levels.
Thursday's opening-day options include rides of various distances through Big Bend National Park, the guided 30-mile Rincon Loop or the 18-mile Dome Trail or an unguided two-day Epic option.
Friday's options include a single-track ride through the rolling hills at LajitasTrails system, the guided 30-mile Rincon Loop or the 18-mile Dome Trail or an unguided two-day Epic Ride option.
Saturday's options include the grueling 54-mile Epic Ride, the Dome or Rincon Loops, roll your own or a children's' ride.
Riders may also take the two-day Epic Ride option if the 54 miles is too tough and arduous to ride in one day. Riders on this option are invited to make a 29-mile ride on day one then throw their feet up and relax with dinner, a hot shower and a good night's rest before heading out again in the morning. After a hearty breakfast on day two, riders can then complete the 25 miles back to Lajitas. In addition to seeing and experiencing the natural beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert mountains, canyons and springs, visitors can see archeological and historic sites along the way. Water aid stations will be available.
The two-day Epic Ride can be done either Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday. Persons opting for one of the two overnight Epic rides must observe the following guidelines:
--Make Big Bend Ranch State Park lodging reservations through TPWD's Customer Service Center at (512) 389-8919. The Bunkhouse is $35 a night per bunk, or reserve one of three rooms (one queen bed) inside the original ranch residence, the Big House, which is $100 per room (two people maximum occupancy).
--Park entry fees are being waived during the three-day festival.
--Meal reservations must be made and paid for in advance by calling BBRSP at (432) 358-4444.
--A free bag shuttled is offered to riders. E-mail park superintendent Barrett Durst at barrett.durst@tpwd.texas.gov for more information, as there is limited space available.
"This is truly an epic event with plenty of adventure, breathtaking views, spirit and soul rejuvenation, and healthy fun in the sun," said Barrett Durst, superintendent of Big Bend Ranch State Park.
"The two-day Epic Ride opportunity this year should be a hoot. For many, the Dirt Fest adventure will be an experience of a lifetime. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department welcomes the citizens of Texas and from all over to visit and experience their grandest state park," he said.
To pre-register for Dirt Fest, visit http://www.bikereg.com. For more information about the event, call Desert Sports toll-free at (888) 989-6900, or by visiting http://www.desertsportstx.com/mountain-bike-event.
On the Net: