Sunday, August 29, 2010

Woodlands Park Rules and Guidelines

Every Woodlands Texas park has rules posted. Some are particular to a special type of park and others are generalized for the park system here. There is good reason to have these rules. Let's say for example, you want to take your dog to a dog park. There are alpha dogs and highly protective dogs - for their master and for their toys. No one wants to step in dog waste. So there are consistent rules for dogs in all the parks. If you use the park, you must clean up behind yourself. Some people say "this is just common sense". I would agree, but some people don't seem to have that sense or if they do, they lack respect for other people rights to enjoy the park as found by the disrespectful person.

A few key items to note
1. Dusk is not dark. It is before dark. If you have to use a flashlight to see, you should not be in the park period! People live adjacent to parks and ponds. Keep them in mind. They will likely be the ones reporting you to the authorities should you be in viewing distance of their home or making noise. Privacy of residents is important. Please respect that.
2. Trash in our ponds kill fish. Please do not leave plastic bags or other trash on the banks. They often get into the water and kill fish. Trash in our parks is also an an unsightly and health hazard nuisance. Our community does not appreciate your trash. In fact, often it is a resident that has to pick up after you, not a paid contractor. This community is rich in assets but not is spending power, so it does not spend a lot of money on maintenance. That is the responsibility of the visitors to our parks.  Please pick up after yourself and carry out everything that you carried into the park. I admire those people who pick after others in addition to themselves. They don't particularly want to do it, but they have an appreciation of beauty and cleanliness. If your want to distribute your trash into our park, you are not welcome in the park.
3. Rowdiness to the point of aggravating other visitors in the park is also not appreciated. Just be courteous to others and understand they came to appreciate the outdoors and nature the park affords. Sounds of creatures such as birds and the tranquility of nature are reasons people are in the parks. Excessive noise is not appreciated.If you play music on some electronic device, play it for yourself, not the park.
4. People appreciate seeing children and families in the parks. They also appreciate pets as long as the owner takes responsibility for cleaning up behind the pet and the pet is not a threat to their family or pet. Leashes are required! Doggie bags are required. There are biodegradable bags that can be purchased from various sources. The Parks department here provides bags from Dogipot. Website
5. Dog parks have a different set of rules. Your dog should have its shots. There are serious diseases that can be passed from one dog to another.  Protect your dog by keeping its shots up to date. Keep aggressive dogs on a leash until they get to know the other dogs. Sometimes a dog is not suited socially to mix with others and should never be released to mix with other dogs. Do not let your aggressive dog harm another person's dog. You are liable for what your dog does, not the park system. That dog is part of their family.
6. If you are a vendor, you must have a permit to sell your goods on public property in The Woodlands. This particularly applies to food and drink vendors.
7. Honor designated parking locations. Do not park on the grass! Do not park on prohibited locations on streets. Chances are that you will be reported by local residents. If you don't know where to park, ask anyone you may see or call the parks department.
8. Ponds have special rules. You can fish the ponds, but must return the fish back to the water to live.  This is enforced. Fishing is defined as placing bait on a hook attached to a line for the exclusive purpose of hooking a fish and bringing it to shore. Net fishing is generally not allowed, although the park rangers allow nets for catching bait fish. Ponds are small and the community expects to not have to repopulate the ponds at a cost to the community. A Texas fishing license is required on all public ponds and lakes.1 Please be aware that Texas Game Wardens are not generally enforcing this on The Woodlands bodies of water, so there are differing statements regarding this regulation, but the regulation is clear. I advise conforming to the regulation rather than depending on local and possibly temporal interpretation of law. State fines are fairly stiff. Fishing for keepers is allowed in Lake Woodlands and the reservoir; these rules are enforced by the Woodlands Park Rangers.  Keeping fish is also allowed when extracting fish from private stocking for events such as the catfish stocking of Creekwood Park for children twice a year. Fishing from non-motorized boats in Lake Woodlands and the reservoir is allowed. Trolling motors are not considered a motor for this purpose. Keep the wake of your boat non-existent. Kayak fishing is encouraged on Lake Woodlands and the reservoir. Kayaks are rented by The Township for recreation that includes fishing. Refer to the related article. 2  Also, it is a good idea to honor the little known state regulations on turtles and frogs. Taking turtles from the ponds is regulated by state hunting laws. A hunting license is required to take turtles or frogs from public waters, even on private property.1   
9. Alcoholic beverages are allowed in the major parks, but keep in mind that drunkenness on public property is not allowed and violators will likely be prosecuted. In little neighborhood parks, alcohol is not allowed.
10. Vegetation in public parks is the property of The Woodlands Township. Unless you have permission to do so, do not cut or change the vegetation for any reason. For those who want to help care for pathways or parks, you can contact the township for what you may or may not do.
11. Pavilions may be rented but you must make reservations in advance.  Park facilities are also available for use by small businesses but you must have a permit or contract to do so.    

Park Rules published by The Woodlands Township(click here)
Park Regulations and legal authority of The Woodlands Township(click here)
1Texas Parks and Wildlife Website Summary of Fishing and Hunting Regulations
2Riva Row Boat House Commentary article

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