State parks returning to full capacity levels

State parks returning to full capacity levels
. (Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Facebook page)

AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening order, Texas Parks and Wildlife says state parks have begun a strategic and thoughtful process of expanding capacity statewide.

A news release from the agency said masks are strongly encouraged for park visitors, especially when indoors or in areas where it is difficult to socially distance and restrictions affecting group sizes have been lifted.

“We’re excited to welcome more visitors to our parks,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “We want Texans to know that the safety of our visitors and our park staff is our top priority as we increase visitor capacity. Prior to COVID-19, and throughout the last year, our parks have seen growing visitation and our teams are working hard to accommodate those who want to get outside and experience the incredible natural and cultural resources our parks have to offer.”

The release said while most parks will be able to expand capacity immediately, others may continue to have some capacity limits. The release said a few parks are still recovering from February’s winter storm and are completing repairs or have other operational considerations. Capacity limits were already typical before the pandemic for some heavily-trafficked parks, to protect natural resources and to make the visitor experience safe and enjoyable.

“This time of COVID-19 has reinforced the power and criticality of providing quality, accessible, and affordable outdoor recreational opportunities for all Texans,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “Getting outdoors is essential for people’s physical and mental health, and Texas State Parks play a critical role in meeting this need.”

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