Daily Light report

ATHENS — The East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society is announcing new, later business hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The arboretum is still open Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering a safe and tranquil space for DFW and East Texas residents to get outdoors — and out of the house.

“Visitor and staff safety are important to us during this current COVID-19 health situation,” arboretum board president Laura Smith said. “We hope that by remaining open daily, we can provide a calming sanctuary away from the concerning issues we are facing, but of course we request that visitors practice all CDC/WHO recommended social distancing and hygiene practices.”

Staff and volunteers continue to maintain the site’s expansive gardens, however all drinking fountains and childrens’ play equipment are currently closed. Plenty of soap and hand sanitizer are on hand, but we ask that those who are feeling unwell or are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms stay home.

The East Texas Arboretum is a sprawling, 104-acre nonprofit nature preserve located about one hour southeast of DFW. With two miles of natural trails, dozens of cultivated garden areas, historical structures and attractions like a bee hive and bat house, there is really something for the whole family to enjoy. Bring a picnic, a pet (on a leash) or fly solo with a camera or set of binoculars.

The arboretum depends on funding from admissions, memberships, donations and grants. More information about becoming a member can be found online at easttexasarboretum.org/membership. Admission is free for members and children under 3. Adult admission is $4, students and seniors pay $3 and kids 3-5 are just $1.

East Texas Arboretum members are also eligible for special admission privileges and discounts at over 300 gardens in the U.S. through the Reciprocal Admissions Program, including the Dallas Arboretum, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Texas Discovery Gardens and more.