This is a message from Todd McClanahan
Park Superintendent - Lost Pines Complex
Bastrop & Buescer State Parks
Status of Bastrop State Park
I have finally had a moment to sit down and gather my thoughts and provide a brief assessment of what has occurred over the past 9 days. First let me send out my sincerest condolences to those who have lost their homes during this tragic event. This certainly has been one of the worst disasters in Texas’s history and is by far the worst wildfire event. Nine state park employees (several more TPWD employees) have been affected by this fire with 7 who lost everything along with so many others in Bastrop.
The outpouring of support is simply mind-blowing and I know there are so many out there who are just wanting to do something to help. Thus far, all buildings within Bastrop State Park, including CCC cabins, refectory, bathhouse, swimming pool, pro shop, picnic shelter, warehouse and sign shop along with the headquarters, group barracks, residences and restrooms have been saved. We lost the roofs on the two CCC scenic overlook structures and a few smaller barn-type structures in the backcountry. This was an amazing feat by all firefighters and private volunteers including Niece Equipment, Ranger Excavating, Jimmy Evans Company, Holt Cat, TxDOT, Comanche Ranch and several firefighting agencies from across the nation. We were operating as our own operational division within the state park, however, state park firefighters also assisted with structure protection outside the park boundaries as well. It was an extremely daunting task to not only protect structures, but especially those with wood shake roofs. Our Regional Office which is also located within Bastrop State Park suffered losses including a Law Enforcement building, Texas Outdoor Family building, residence and 12 vehicles, seven of which were new vehicles yet to be delivered to other state parks.
We are still in assessment mode and continue to cut hazard trees which fall daily. This will continue for some time. We are estimating at this time that 95% of Bastrop State Park has endured significant loss and will likely increase due to the prolonged drought conditions.
Therefore the park will remain closed until the end of October. The golf course will be opened for the front nine holes only. Buescher State Park will be open beginning Monday, September 19th. I know that folks are wanting desperately to come into the park to see what it looks like, but please spread the word to keep out until we deem it safe. If we are able to ensure the safety of park visitors and volunteers, we will open sooner, however, there are too many unknowns at this time. We must assess our utilities including electricity, lift stations, infrastructure for smoke/heat damage and continue to monitor the hazard of falling trees and potential for re-burn in unburned areas, especially once the pine needles begin dropping. This will be a long process.
I have already received many inquiries about donations and volunteer opportunities. At this point we need time to make the park safe before we will allow folks to come into the park to assist. Many have asked about tree planting and this is a great idea, however, we must first asses the erosion problem that lies before us. Also, unfortunately, there are not many sources for the drought tolerant loblolly pine trees, and thirdly, given the continued drought conditions, we want to maximize the chance for survival for any planted trees. We are assessing all needs for the park including infrastructure, resource restoration, etc.
For those who wish make monetary donations, please one of the following specifically for Bastrop State Park and TPWD:
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Friends of Lost Pines State Parks
PO Box 1714
Bastrop, TX 78602
OR for affected TPWD employees:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation
Memo Line: TPWD Employee Relief Fund
1901 N. Akard
Dallas, TX 75201
I appreciate all of your calls and emails showing the unbelievable support for this state park. It will take a very long time to restore this park but we will make it through this. Please share as needed. I thank all of you.