By Emily Banks Wooten
LIVINGSTON — After several years of a decline in visitors, Lake Livingston State Park is once again a hub of activity and relaxation.
Lake Livingston State Park was the subject of a recent Lunch & Learn hosted by the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce.
Jessica Bright, the new park superintendent, and Joseph Green, the assistant park superintendent, provided the program.
Bright has been with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for 13 years and came to Livingston from Huntsville.
She said that in a normal year, close to half a million come through the park. Their records reflect that 70 percent come from the Houston, Baytown, Sugarland area; 12 percent come from rural areas of Texas; and 5 percent come from outside of Texas.
Bright said there are 153 campsites and that 80 are full hookup. The park includes 684 acres and about 400 acres of that is developed. There are six miles of trails.
She said the park made almost 16,000 educational contacts last year, the economic impact added to Polk County was $1,189,179, 22.1 jobs were created and about $46,000 in sales tax was generated.
Commenting on what the park has to offer, Bright said there are the campsites and trails, three boat ramps, the concessionaire that rents kayaks, a swimming area and a recreation hall that can be rented.
She said the swimming pool has been closed for about eight years because it was not financially viable and there is talk of possibly using that space as a group day use area.
Green is originally from Tyler and has been in Livingston for about five years. He said running the park is like taking care of a small community.
He said they have state contracts, try to put money back into the local economy and utilize a lot of local businesses. He said he is more familiar with the maintenance and upkeep of the park.
He said they work closely with the Trinity River Authority of Texas and have a relationship with the Master Naturalists.
He touched on the issues the park has had with its water supply, adding that they are about to spend a considerable amount of money on the water supply. He said they previously used water wells and used 300,000-500,000 gallons a month. He said the water supply has had a real detrimental impact to their business. They’re not closed, but they can’t take reservations. He said they probably receive 100 calls a day but they have a 55-year-old water system and the well pretty much collapsed. He said they like to be self-sufficient and use their own well but right now are having to use Lake Livingston Water Supply. He said they are laying a thousand feet of pipe daily to connect because Lake Livingston Water Supply has multiple wells in that area, in addition to a new surface water treatment plant.
Green said that pre-COVID they were booked solid every day for six months but that they are building back up. He said guests may stay a maximum of two weeks consecutively, but then must leave for 24 hours. He said they are looking into putting in an automatic gate that would open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. He said they have also talked about a splash pad or a dog park among other things.
Among the activities available are an archery range, campsites, hiking, biking, fishing, birding, 10 screened shelters, interpretive events on Saturdays and free fishing without a license in Texas state parks. There is also a nature center inside the park store and a large observation tower outside the store. The entrance fee is $6 per person ages 13 and up.
To find out what is going on at Lake Livingston State Park, check out the calendar of events or the Facebook page.