Not long ago, I started work on a PowerPoint presentation to promote the Friends of Galveston Island State Park (FoGISP), but I got bogged down waiting for the muse to strike me with a theme. Somehow, I was prodded up to the FoGISP website, and there it was, “Volunteering to preserve, enhance and educate.” That summed it up in a nutshell, for that’s exactly what FoGISP does at the park.
We preserved the park itself after Hurricane Ike devastated it in September 2008 when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was ready to padlock it for seven years to redesign and to rebuild. The park is a prime piece of real estate sitting between Jamaica Beach and Pirate’s Beach and Cove, so it didn’t take much imagination to suspect that it might never be a park again. That suspicion prompted FoGISP to go to Austin to petition TPWD to permit us to refurbish the Nature Center, supervise the cleanup of the north side of the park, and conduct scheduled nature activities upon reopening. We got the park reopened in March 2009 — only six months later.
I won’t try to list all the other FoGISP preservation projects except for the ongoing prairie grass cultivating and planting that goes on in the two FoGISP supplied greenhouses and potting facility. How’s that for preservation?
We enhance the park visitor experience by rebuilding storm damaged observation towers on Egrets and Clapper Rail hiking trails, by erecting bird blinds on Ducks Pond and Caracara hiking trails, and by providing benches on many hiking trails. I could go on, but I won’t.
We educate when we conduct weekly beach and bay walks, when we conduct Camp Wild each summer, and when we assist the park interpretive ranger in conducting school field trips and kayak tours. Let me count the ways.
The icing on the cake is that it’s all done with volunteers recruited by FoGISP, and that’s true, right up to the board of directors. There isn’t a penny spent on management, and all of our money comes from donors, large and small. That’s how you can hep make the park better. You can be a donor. Just sit down, write a check payable to FoGISP and mail it to FoGISP, P.O. Box 5428, Galveston, TX 77554.
Come on down to the park, and you can see for yourself what FoGISP volunteers and donors do to preserve and enhance the park, and we might try to sneak in some education also.