Texas Parks and Wildlife manages the Texas State Park Ambassadors, a program meant to connect and empower young explorers and state park enthusiasts to advocate for state parks through recreation, training and volunteer opportunities.
Master’s student, Addison Regennitter was chosen as the 2020 Texas State Park Ambassador for Lake Somerville State Park’s Birch Creek Unit.
Regennitter graduated from Texas A&M in 2019 with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Natural Resource Development (MRND) program through Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and will graduate in 2021.
Getting in touch with nature
As part of the ambassador program, Regennitter is required to complete 40 hours of hands-on service, community outreach and social media projects.
Regennitter says that through her time at Texas A&M and during her service as an ambassador, her awareness surrounding the importance of state parks has only grown.
Photo courtesy of Addison Regennitter
“All throughout college, I spent many days camping and backpacking at Texas State Parks during school breaks to rest and unwind from the stressors of college life. Now that I’m almost finished with school, I can truly recognize their value in my past and their value for conservation in the future.”
Regennitter says that visiting a Texas state park is a great way to relax and get in touch with nature.
“State parks are not only a safe haven for native species, but they’re a safe haven for people to escape their everyday lives and get a dose of nature.”
If you’re looking to visit Lake Somerville State Park, Regennitter offered up some suggestions to help connect you with the great outdoors.
Five things to do at Lake Somerville
- Hike the Lake Somerville Trailway. This connects both units of Lake Somerville State Park (LSSP) and is 26 miles round-trip. You can travel on foot, by mountain bike, and even on horse. There are 9+ other shorter trails in the park for those who aren’t up for 26 miles in one visit!
- Birding. LSSP – Birch Creek Unit has some great birding areas around the park where you’ll be able to see many species year-round. Besides the lake, there is the Flag Pond, a 350-acre wetland habitat meant to host wintering waterfowl. It was built in 1926 by a private hunting club, but is now maintained by the park and even has an outdoor classroom.
- Camping. Both the Birch Creek Unit and the Nails Creek Unit have many campsites, ranging from primitive and tent only to camper/RV sites and even equestrian group sites. There’s something for everyone.
- Water Sports (including fishing). Both units have fishing piers and fishing equipment on loan at the park store to use at the parks—remember that you don’t need a fishing license if you fish from the shores of a State Park! Both units also have boat ramps to get you out on the water, and you can rent canoes and kayaks from the park store.
- Picnic. Coming to the park for the day to have a family picnic is very popular at the park because there are plenty of day-use sites, including several large pavilions.
Photo courtesy of Lake Somerville State Park
In the spring and summer, park visitors are met with explosions of color from native wildflowers that grace the trails.
Chances are, visitors will also probably see some wildlife while they’re there. If they look hard enough, or get lucky visitors might catch a glimpse of river otters. Regennitter also said visitors should be on the lookout for resident bald eagles, who have made nests viewable from around the park.
“Other bald eagles only stay in Texas through winter, but Lake Somerville State Park is a great place to catch a glimpse of the national bird,” Regennitter said.
Safe, socially-distanced recreation
While COVID-19 postponed or canceled many summer activities, Texas State Parks have taken a variety of precautions to keep patrons safe and socially distanced. Texas Parks and Wildlife, along with many the dedicated park staff and volunteers, have worked hard to ensure visitors can continue enjoying Texas State Parks.
Regennitter said it’s this dedicated group of people that has made her experience as an ambassador so worthwhile.
“My favorite thing about being an ambassador is how many incredible and passionate people I’ve met so far who are all working towards the same goal – being stewards for our State Parks so that all people can have access to nature, both today and in the future.”
As of June 29, Texas State Parks are open for day users and limited camping. To check availability or make an online reservation to visit Lake Somerville State Park, go to https://texasstateparks.reserveamerica.com.