Colorado Bend State Park has added two new staff positions and purchased new equipment, thanks to increased funding provided by the Texas Legislature. The changes should mean safer and more comfortable facilities and a more enjoyable visitor experience.
For 2008, the park received an operating budget increase that allowed them to hire an interpretive specialist responsible for resource management and expanding public access.
“The hope is to add more hiking trails, offer more guided tours and enhance volunteer-led events,” said park manager Cory Evans.
The park also received additional seasonal funding to hire a new part time worker to help maintain park facilities for visitors, as well as help cave and waterfall tours. Additional funds also allowed for a new utility vehicle and updated equipment for general park operations and cleanup.
State investments at Colorado Bend should generate a strong return for the host community, based on Texas A&M University research which proved state parks draw tourist dollars from outside their host counties. A university research report in 2005 focused on 80 state parks studied in the project. Statewide, these 80 parks generated an estimated total of $793 million in retail sales, had a $456 million impact on residents’ income and created roughly 11,928 jobs.
Researchers say investing money on facilities upkeep, interpretation and services to enhance the visitor experience can boost the economic value of parks.
“State parks are analogous to retail stores,” said John Crompton, Ph.D., with the university’s Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. “Economic success depends on what happens inside the facility. Investments in park services and amenities mean more visitors and higher per capital expenditures, which equals higher revenues to the state and more jobs and income for local residents.”
The complete “Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks” research report, including fact sheets on each of the 80 parks studied, can be downloaded from the TPWD Web site.
Details on Colorado Bend State Park, including visitor facilities, hours and fees, maps and directions, can also be viewed online.