Cedar Hill State Park Uses Volunteers to Stave Off Cuts

State saves $2-3 million a year by using volunteer help

By Keaton Fox
|  Friday, Apr 20, 2012  |  Updated 8:01 PM CDT
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Thanks to volunteers, like Doris Guckian, Cedar Hill State Park is open every day. The program saves the state millions of dollars in park operations.

Keaton Fox, NBC 5 News

Thanks to volunteers, like Doris Guckian, Cedar Hill State Park is open every day. The program saves the state millions of dollars in park operations.

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Thanks to volunteers, Cedar Hill State Park is open every day.

Volunteer Doris Guckian lives at the park in exchange for her work under the park's host/volunteer program. The program saves the state millions of dollars.

Guckian said spending a day in the park is work she'll gladly take.

"It's not really work; [it's] always a pleasure," she said.

Guckian enjoys being out in nature and spends much of her day looking for trash.

"I get in the buggy and go down the road," she said.

Mercy McBrayer, the park's volunteer coordinator, said the program is vital for the park amid serious budget distress.

"It saves so much, and it really gets people more involved in the parks," McBrayer said. "It also helps kind of establish this feeling of, 'This is my park.'"

Robert Rinn, the park's assistant superintendent, said the program adds expertise across the park in addtion to helping to keep it running.

"They know what's going on in the park; they're our eyes and ears in the park," Rinn said. "They camp in the park every day, so they know what to tell customers. They're able to give valuable information about how to camp and how to enjoy their stay here."

Without the hosts, the park would have to trim back on its operating hours and stop programs, McBrayer said.

"In this park, in Cedar Hill State Park, we are open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year," said McBrayer. "And without the hosts, we couldn't do that."

For volunteer opportunities at Cedar Hill State Park or other Texas parks, visit its website or call 512-389-4746.

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