Smith eyes visitor improvements at LBJ State Park, Historic Site
The Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site is under new command with Dennis Smith as the new park superintendent.
Smith moved to the Hill Country in February with the intention of filling the superintendent position and to be closer to his family located in Johnson City.
“I chose LBJ State Park as a continuation of my career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, especially in the historic sites,” Smith said.
After working security detail for Lady Bird Johnson’s funeral cortege as a park police officer, Smith gained a knowledge of the park and the surrounding areas.
“To move up was a great opportunity in my career,” Smith said. “It’s a beautiful location, and it has all of what I like to do with history and natural resources.”
Smith began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Fort Griffin when he was 16.
After graduating from Texas Tech University, he then began his career in park administration.
“I’ve been with Parks and Wildlife for a total of 23 years, and about 20 of those have been in management,” Smith said.
As the superintendent of Monument Hill in La Grange for 13 years, he gained the knowledge and experience to manage the 717-acre LBJ Park.
Smith looks to make lots of improvements as superintendent, mainly focused on the visitors.
“There are a lot of smaller improvements we need to make to the park for our visitor services,” he said.
Smith plans to upgrade the auditorium and the audio-visual technology inside in order to host more presentations and programs, honor the cash crop of the Beckmann family by expanding the garden to begin growing cotton and add signage for visitors on the trails to easily identify the plants.
“Adding some restroom facilities along the river would be really nice to provide for our visitors that like to go out and fish or major improvements for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, and that’s the visitor services, what we’re here for,” Smith said.
To increase the visitation to the park and awareness of the history built on its grounds, Smith continues the traditions to draw in first-time visitors to the farm and the park.
“Our biggest thing for marketing is our special events,” Smith said. “We try to do one big event every three months at the farm.”
The LBJ State Park hosts the annual Christmas tree lighting, this being the 50th anniversary, a fishing day and a seed stomp in September.
“There are different events going on to try to increase our visitation,” Smith said. “We are, of course, trying to enhance the products in our gift shop to keep people coming in, and working with an ambassador program to do some night sky programs like star gazing to get a night sky designation.”
Smith plans to continue to look after the park, making it a destination for all who visit the Hill Country.
“First and foremost, our goal is to maintain the park and maintain a high-quality experience for our visitors, not just at the farm, but for the health of everything,” he said. “It’s really diverse. There’s a lot here, not just the farm, the headquarters and the pool. A lot of our parks don’t have the expansive diversity, but there’s a lot here for park visitors to enjoy and for us to maintain.”