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
The kayak put-in at Jenkins Bayou has a dandy new surface – no more mud!
We have outgrown the kayak shed at Oak Bayou. It has been demolished and is being replaced by a larger structure.
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.
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.
Overall Winner – Jack Chaiyakhom
Winner Digital – Jody Determann
Winner – Cell Phone _ Mary Openshaw
The winners for the Friends of Galveston Island State Park Photo Contest have been named. We had over 80 entries for the contest which ran from January 1st through February 28th. Thank you to all who participated:
Overall Winner – Jack Chaiyakhom – One year pass to the State Park
Best Cellphone Pix – Mary Openshaw – $25 gift certificate to the Galveston Island State Park Store
Best Digital Pix – Jody Determann – $25 gift certificate to the Galveston Island State Park Store
Are you looking for that perfect location to host a gathering of friends? Perhaps you are searching for that private little slice of paradise where you or your family can sneak away for a relaxing “stay-cation” right here in Galveston. Well, look no further than our own Galveston Island Sate Park. Starting in August, the Park will offer for rent the Maco Stewart House and the nearby Ranch House. These two homes, situated on the shore of beautiful Lake Como, have been restored to their former glory after suffering significant damage as a result of hurricane Ike. They are now available to the public to rent by the day, the weekend or the week.
The Maco Stewart House and the Ranch House are located on what were once the palatial grounds surrounding the Stewart Mansion. George Sealy originally built the Spanish-style house, now known as the Stewart Mansion, located on the bay at Stewart Road and 13 Mile road. After Maco Stewart acquired the land in a property exchange in 1933, the mansion was enlarged and extensively renovated, resulting in the building that we see today. The mansion remained in the Stewart family until 1944, when it was donated to the medical branch of the University of Texas to be used as a children’s convalescence home. It eventually became too expensive to operate and was abandoned.
In Maco Stewart’s will, he stipulated that, after the death of his wife and sons, the associated ranch, which is now Galveston Island State Park, be left to the state of Texas to be used and maintained as a fish, game and oyster preserve. His wish was that this ranch would be a source of enjoyment to the public for generations to come. In 1975, Galveston Island State Park was opened to the public, fulfilling Maco Stewart’s dream.
If you would like to come out to the Park and enjoy this private getaway and make your own unforgettable memories, just contact the Park office to inquire about cost and reservations. If you are a member of FoGISP, let them know.
Seen just outside the park
Sandhill cranes are arriving to over-winter in Galveston.
For information about sandhill cranes, refer to All About Birds.