McKinney Falls State Park to Host CenTex Survival Fair

January 16, 2013

McKinney Falls State Park to Host CenTex Survival Fair

Calling all wilderness survival experts-in-training! The CenTex Survival Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23. at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin.

“I absolutely cannot wait for this event,” said Amber Conrad, park ranger. “We’ll have local food and bluegrass music as we educate people about outdoor safety through awesome activities like fire-building and a geocache challenge. You can’t beat it.”

Fair-goers will have the opportunity to meet first responders responsible for outdoor emergency services and learn about their jobs by crawling through fire engines, ambulances, rescue boats and other vehicles, seeing live demonstrations and trying on rescue equipment. Walk-in Take 10 CPR trainings will be available at the fair through Austin-Travis County EMS. Activities such as archery, flint knapping, atlatl throwing, a geocache challenge and live wildlife shows will be available all day.

The fair will feature a Go Fish! youth fishing workshop where children can earn their Junior Angler Education pins while learning to tie basic knots, identify fish and get a chance to catch their first fish. Children may start the 30-minute rotating station workshop at any point during the event. There will be a fishing contest with prizes for children and adults. Because fishing is free in all state parks, anglers do not need a fishing license to participate but must register for the contest before beginning to fish.

Activities and booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tacos, barbeque and fresh kettle corn from local vendors, as well as general concessions and live music throughout the day. Survival hikes on a one-mile loop will last about half an hour and leave the Smith Visitor’s Center at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The CenTex Survival Fair is hosted by the park’s volunteer group, the Friends of McKinney Falls State Park. Proceeds for this event support the group’s Junior Ranger Summer Camp, an affordable outdoor day camp benefiting city youth ages 9-12 held annually at McKinney Falls. Registration for the camp begins in March on the group’s website at

The CenTex Survival Fair event is free and open to the public after park entrance fees. State Park Pass holders and children 12 years of age and younger are admitted without charge. McKinney Falls is located in Austin’s backyard just off U.S. 183. The park is completely within the city limits of Austin and features two natural water falls, miles of hiking and biking trails, campgrounds and the City of Austin’s Tree of the Year “Old Baldy”.

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Alabama State Parks Offer Free Admission September 29, 2012

September 17, 2012

Alabama State Parks Offer Free Admission September 29, 2012

In recognition of National Public Lands Day, Alabama State Parks will waive day-use fees on September 29, 2012. Participating parks include those operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Locations and directions are found at

Day-use fees average $1 to $3 per person at most state parks. Fees for park amenities such as canoe rentals and cave tours will still apply, but there will be no cost for activities like hiking, biking, bird-watching or geocaching.

Parks Director Greg Lein says that National Public Lands Day was designated to recognize all that our public lands have to offer. “If there are people who have never visited a state park, this would be a great time to gather the family, pack a picnic lunch and spend a day enjoying the outdoors,” he said. “Since our state parks are dependent on user fees to operate — not state taxes — we hope that people will come back another time and pay the nominal entrance fee to visit a park.”

Several of Alabama’s state parks have benefited from land additions through purchases by the Forever Wild Land Trust, including Monte Sano and Cathedral Caverns. Forever Wild directly benefits Alabama’s outdoor enthusiasts through access to public recreational lands and supporting activities such as backpacking, bird-watching, boating, canoeing, camping, field trials, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, nature study and wildlife watching.

As hunting season approaches, hunters can also celebrate the Forever Wild Land Trust’s support of Alabama’s public hunting lands program by hunting on a state Wildlife Management Area (WMA). While Alabama’s public hunting lands program continues to lose no-cost lease lands previously made available under the state’s WMA system, Forever Wild has added new public hunting lands at 16 of the state’s 37 WMAs.

Alabama’s State Parks and Forever Wild lands are part of a larger national system of state-run public lands. These lands are available to all citizens, many of whom rely on them for recreational activities that support a healthy lifestyle.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  To learn more about ADCNR, visit

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Alabama State Parks Offer Free Admission September 29, 2012