Austin’s only state park desperately needs volunteers

McKinney Falls State Park (Kate Weidaw, KXAN).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The only state park in Austin is in desperate need of volunteers. The Halloween floods from 2013 and the Memorial Day floods of 2015 destroyed portions of McKinney Falls State Park and in an effort to get the community more involved, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hopes community members will help revive portions of the park.

It was during those massive flooding events that Onion Creek flowed out of its banks some 40 feet and destroyed the park’s visitor center and also led to the volunteer group breaking up. With the combination of budget cuts and multiple needs for the park, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is trying to form a new group of volunteers to take over the daily operations of the visitor’s center when it reopens next year and also raise money for the park.

“We have a variety of opportunities at the park like short one-time events like trail cleanup to more long term helping lead our interpretive events and education programs and getting our friends group together to run our visitor’s center when it’s up and open,” says Brandi Heasley, Texas Parks & Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator.

In addition, with the wide variety of birds and visitors who like to look at them, park rangers would like to construct bird blinds. They also want to transform the two swings that make up the playground into an actual playground.

Fundraising would also be a large component so the park has dedicated funds raised by volunteers which can eliminate the long process of asking the state for money.

“There’s things that come up last minute, so to be able to utilize those funds for those small problems that arise so we don’t have to go through the huge process,” Heasley says.

There is a free event being held at McKinney Falls State Park from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday to bring volunteers together. The event will feature a free mountain bike riding tour and free food.

The hope is for 30 volunteers to help the park. For more information, call McKinney Falls State Park Volunteer Coordinator at 512-243-1643.

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