HOUSTON – If you wanted to take a breather or get out of the house and escape to a park, you will be able to do it soon.
Gov. Greg Abbott directed all state parks and historical sites to reopen Monday after requesting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to temporarily close them nearly a week ago. The move was a part of the state’s effort to encourage social distancing and prevent people from gathering in large groups.
“Social distancing is our best tool to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Abbott said in the news release. “The temporary closure of our state parks and historic sites will help us achieve this goal by preventing the gathering of large groups of people. I urge all Texans to continue to stay at home except for essential services as we respond to COVID-19. By following these social distance practices, we will overcome this challenge together.”
With nearly 740,000 day and overnight visitors in March, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said they were facing increasing challenges and risks in keeping state parks open. They cited difficulty in ensuring compliance with social distancing, maintaining adequate supplies and keeping park facilities sufficiently sanitized.
At Brazos Bend State Park in Fort Bend County, campers said they were saddened they wouldn’t be able to complete their visit but understood the need for the closure.
“For us it’s a little bit of a disappointment that we can’t stay a little bit longer but I can’t say it’s unexpected it’s just the world is changing these days,” said Eric Brinley, of Friendswood.
All state parks and historic sites will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will remain closed until Abbott decides to reopen them.
According to the TPWD, the Texas State Parks Customer Service Center is working to reimburse people who had booked overnight stays through the reservation system. All group and facility reservations have been canceled through April 30. Those reservations will not be charged normal administrative fees.
Some of the state parks in the Houston-area include Huntsville State Park, Brazos Bend State Park, Galveston Island State Park and Battleship Texas State Historic Site.
For more information, visit the TPWD website.