Keeper of the Dome

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NOW LEADING one of Texas Parks and Wildlife De-partment’s top five most visited parks, Doug Cochran sees challenges and oppor tunities in managing Enchanted Rock State Natural Area’s 1,600-plus acres, which includes the iconic, 640-acre granite dome outcropping. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Rainy weekdays at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area allow the staff to catch their breath and catch up on the myriad maintenance and day-to-day duties. New park superintendent Doug Cochran still had a full “to-do” list during Monday’s showers, but took time out to talk about his first four months on the job.

Cochran came to the job after 15 years as the City of Victoria’s parks director. He also had done municipal parks department work in College Station, the home of his alma mater, Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation studies.

“I still can’t believe I’m here,” he said. “I worked 15 years in Victoria, but I wasn’t ready to retire and this job came open. The people in Fredericksburg are so genuine and welcoming.”

Cochran, who lives just 45 seconds from the park’s entrance, said he is looking at all aspects of the park, to improve the visitor experience for one of the state’s top five destinations in the entire Texas Parks and Wildlife Department System.

“We’ve got a wonderful staff,” he said of his staff of 10, adding that they are currently understaffed by about one third. “They love what they do and working with people.”

To help the staff work more efficiently, Cochran said they are looking at short-term improvements to trails, signage and water projects. Long-term, Cochran wants to improve the park’s visibility in both gateway cities, Fredericksburg and Llano.

“We want to be good partners. Fredericksburg and Llano are so important to us,” he said. “It’s important that we get to civic groups or local schools and make presentations for science or history teachers. When students can hear from a park ranger, it can help them better learn about geology or our ecosystems.”

For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!

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