Galveston Island State Park has two thousand acres of surf, beach, dunes, coastal prairie, fresh-water ponds, wetlands, bayous and bay shoreline. It is a richly diverse preserve with hundreds of species of wildlife — you may see roseate spoonbills resting in an oak mott, tree frogs croaking out their mating calls, skimmers nesting in terraced wetlands, egrets fishing the ponds, coyotes prowling the nighttime grassland, sandpipers skittering in the surf and pelicans surveying from high above.

For recreation, you can swim at the beach, hike or bike the miles of trails, kayak the wetlands and fish the bay or surf. The Park is also a science laboratory for naturalists and students of marsh ecology, bird migration, shoreline stability and wildlife habitat.

Even though a short visit can be refreshing, an overnight stay at campgrounds that front the beach or bay offers the promise of a star-filled night with the soothing sound of water meeting the shore.

Friends of Galveston Island State Park (FoGISP) is a non-profit corporation founded by a group of conservationists, naturalists and educators in February, 2001 in order to assist and promote the Park.

Read the blog entries below to keep up with our activities.


Images by Jack Chaiyakhom, winner of our first photo contest

Great day for a run/walk

Almost 100 runners and walkers took part in this year’s Fun Run/Walk and were treated to beautiful weather (as well as taquitos from Whataburger). Thanks to all our volunteers and sponsors.

And they’re off …


In case you were wondering which way to go …


The race wouldn’t be complete without Dr. Fistein and her trusty companion


First place, 5k


First place, 10k


The Park’s 5k and 10k courses are now certified

Dave Bary, lead for this Saturday’s Fun Run/Walk, thought FoGISP might be able to attract more participants if the 5k and 10k courses were certified by USA Track & Field (USAT&F), so he kicked off the rather arduous process that eventually resulted in certification.

The first step was to set up a short calibration course.

Dave and Debra marking out the calibration course

Debra Pence then used her bicycle, which was fitted with a special counter, to determine how many “clicks” it took to cover 300m, the length of the calibration course. To ensure accuracy, she had to travel the calibration course in each direction, multiple times.

The counter

The last stage was for Debra to ride the 5k and 10k courses designed by Dave. She had to ride both courses in each direction, noting the setting on the counter at the beginning and end of each run. During these rides, Lynn Smith and Alan Wilde were on duty stopping traffic, since Debra had to use the wrong side of the road in places (USAT&F insists that you use the shortest line between any two points).

Debra grinding it out

Dave knew with a high degree of accuracy the number of “clicks” it took for Debra to travel 300m. Now he also knew the total number of “clicks” required to travel each course and, from these, he was able to calculate the exact distances Debra had traveled. After ensuring that each course was within the limits specified by USAT&F, he submitted the paperwork for approval.

Kudos to Dave and Debra for a job well done!

They’re back ….

The new kayak shed is operational, with only a few minor jobs to complete.

The kayaks are in place – and were used by Ranger Lisa and Kim to lead a party of hardy souls on January 1. Brrrr!

Here are the FoGISP volunteers who helped load up the new shed.


Demonstrating renewable energy at the Park?

Have you ever wondered why the wind turbine situated behind the Nature Learning Center never turns? And why there is a lean-to next to the turbine?

It turns out that the wind turbine and five solar cells – yes, those are solar cells on top of the “lean-to” – were installed in 2009 to create a live demonstration of renewable energy. Time and neglect caused the turbine to stop turning (bad bearings) and the solar cells to stop creating energy (a bad inverter); however, thanks to Wayne and Root, the solar cells are back online.

FoGISP is investigating the possibility of restoring the wind turbine so that we can again demonstrate the generation of renewable energy. Wish us luck – the company that made the turbine is out of business, though parts are still available.

What we add to the Park …

During 2016/2017, the Friends of Galveston Island State Park achieved the following:

  • 5k/10k Fun Run – 82 participants braved the 26-degree weather.
  • Beach and Bay Day – This annual event showcases the Park and demonstrates how nature can be enjoyed responsibly. 1,247 visitors were attracted to the Park, backed by 86 volunteers and 12 sponsors.
  • Camp Wild – This year’s day camp attracted 60 kids and 74 volunteers.
  • Coastal prairie restoration – Our volunteers grew and planted little bluestem, long-spiked tridens, brownseed paspalum, gulf coast muhly, 3-awn, dunes paspalum, and bracted blazing star. We also took part in two workdays designed to rid the Park of Chinese tallow, an invasive
  • Kayaking – We led and helped lead numerous kayak trips, both day-time and sunset. We had several kayak-related workdays and purchased a new kayak, as well as new life jackets for children.
  • We staffed the Nature Learning Center for 37 weekends, while also providing guided walks in the beach and bay sides of the Park.
  • We ran 27 school trips, introducing 2,000 children, chaperones and teachers to the wonders of the Park.
  • We supported the Park’s Bird Sit event.
  • Volunteers took part in a number of outreach events, including Sea Center Texas Nature Day, Boy Scouts Outdoor Experience, World Oceans Day Festival and TAMUG Spring Fest 2017.

In 2017/2018, you can expect more of the same, perhaps with some enhancements and additions. We are also planning to replace the existing kayak shed to give us more space to support this increasingly popular activity. We also plan to replace the bridge at the kayak pond.