If you love camping, you love the outdoors, you love quiet, you love nature, you love Enchanted Rock, read on. Your dream job has just been taken. Doug Cochran was appointed as the superintendent of Enchanted Rock SNA on July 1st. I spoke with him last week.
Robert: “Where do you come from, Doug”
Doug: “I was born in San Antonio and went to high school in Laredo. I got a degree in parks and recreation from A&M in 1982. I worked for the City of Victoria park department for 28 years. The way I see it, I trained for this job for 28 years.”
Robert: “What do you like about living in the park?”
Doug: “I’m forty five seconds from my office! Of course, I’m on call, and I do get called out often. I am a long time camper, too. I love the Texas State Park system. Out here, it’s really quiet. I enjoy the animals, the songs of crickets and the birds, but the quiet is wonderful.”
Robert: “What is your vision for this park?”
Doug pointed to a plaque on the wall of his office. “Right there. The mission statement.” I got up and read the plaque:
To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
“That sums it up. That’s my job, working with the staff, enhancing the visitor experience. Asking questions of the staff, for example, “Why do we do that?” Sometimes there is a better way.
Robert: “How do you feel about volunteers?”
Doug: “Volunteers will help us be more successful. We have three park host sites, but only one host. I’d like to have three. We’re not doing a bad job, but I want to find ways to do it better. We’re going to recruit and using more volunteers during peak times, too. That will really help our staff, with volunteers taking care of some of the work.”
Robert: “How tight is the budget?”
Doug: “Collecting user fees is very important. We expect more visitors than ever this year. We might have to purchase water again. Trails, trash, keeping the place looking good; with an increasing number of people here, we have a lot to keep up with.”
Robert: “What can you do about the long lines on the highway when the park is full?”
Doug: “My first concern is for the safety of the staff and people waiting on the highway. There is potential for someone to get hurt. I am going to work with TXDOT, Fredericksburg, Llano, the DPS, we are going to come up with some better signage. I’d like to see a shuttle service from the cities here, to minimize the cars. I’m introducing myself to the city council in Fredericksburg next week. I am going to be very engaged with the local communities.”
Robert: “What message would you like to put out to our readers?”
Doug: “Pick up trash. Yours or someone else’s. Be careful not to impact this place any more than necessary. Remember we are always short of water. There are a lot of people on the trails. This park is a unique experience; let’s keep it that way.”
Look for more information on what is happening at E Rock on this blog or on our Facebook page.
Robert Deming, Friends of Enchanted Rock volunteer, lover of all things natural, camper, climber, regular E Rock visitor, Facebook and Blog editor for the Friends.