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November 2006 Park Picks

Picture of the cover to the November 2006 magazine

Fort Boggy State Park

Nature rules at this East Texas haven — but watch out for hungry hogs.

By Marsha Wilson Rappaport

At Fort Boggy State Park, thick oak and elm trees form a lush green canopy over a clear-water swimming lake that’s often filled with laughing children. Meanwhile, on the banks, their parents and grandparents try their luck at fishing. It is a scene that may seem far away, in both time and space, when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic, but it’s really just a matter of pointing the car toward a more peaceful destination.

Fort Boggy State Park is located in Centerville. The original inhabitants, the Keechi and the Kickapoo, were joined by the families of John Byrns and Christopher C. Staley in 1840. After C.C. Staley was killed by raiding Native Americans, the settlers built Fort Boggy for protection. The area was used as farmland until the 1930s. Since then, it has returned to a near-pristine natural state.

Fort Boggy abounds in wildlife. On a perfect May day, while I walked through the flowing savannah grasslands, a monarch butterfly landed on a branch, a majestic hawk circled overhead, and a large grasshopper stopped to rest on my foot. With the help of some fat earthworms, I pulled in a couple of feisty brim from the lake.

Melvin Dube, a cattleman from McDade who was enjoying the day at a family reunion, commented: “Wildlife is a very important part of our environment. It needs a place.”

Park Superintendent Mike Kleinert is charged with keeping man and nature in harmony within the 1,847 acres of this largely undeveloped park. He admits that it can be a challenge. For example, the park’s unpaved roads and trails are feeding grounds for feral fogs.

“They’re still tearing up the roads,” chuckled a good-natured Kleinert as he pointed to a mound of dirt where hogs stopped a new trail in its tracks.

“We also have snakes, like copperheads,” said Kleinert. “But we have to remind our visitors; it’s like a stranger coming into your house. You cannot harass or disturb the wildlife while you are in our parks.”

Fort Boggy visitor Gary Dunklin, a retired businessman with disabilities, credits Texas parks with helping him and his wife combat the stress caused by his fixed income and medical problems.

“I’m a big fan of the Texas State Parks Pass,” said Dunklin as he tossed a handful of multicolored corn into the lake. “We can travel though Texas and hit every state park on the route.”

Fort Boggy currently has a beach, swimming area and two hiking/mountain bike/nature trails. There is also a covered pavilion with picnic tables and a barbecue pit.

For more information, call (903) 344-1116 or visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fortboggy>.

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