Here’s why stacking rocks in Texas state parks isn’t allowed

Aquatic macroinvertebrates need the rocks for survival and protection

Dinosaur Valley State Park. (Dinosaur Valley State Park.)

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding state park visitors to leave no trace, including putting those rocks down.

The Dinosaur Valley State Park in North Texas posted an image of stacks of rocks along a hiking trail last week.

While stacking rocks may seem like an innocent activity, state park officials say it’s not allowed.

“Doing so disturbs sensitive and critical wildlife habitats that rely on the rocks for protection,” the park said in a Facebook post. “This is even more serious during times of drought and low water levels just like we are experiencing here at the park.”

The post added that building rock cairns destroys the already-stressed habitats of aquatic macroinvertebrates and causes a break in the ecosystem.

The aquatic macroinvertebrates, which process organic matter, need the rocks for survival and protection.

“Aquatic macroinvertebrates help indicate overall water quality, and are crucial to the freshwater ecosystems for other species such as fish,” the post adds. “While their job and role in the environment becomes much harder during times of low water and drought, it becomes near impossible when rocks are removed to build rock cairns.”

Rock cairns may also confuse bikers and hikers, the post states.

TPWD states that visitors should also leave fossils, plants, animals and resources alone.

State park visitors should also not feed wildlife, TPWD says.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.