Fire-Scorched Texas State Parks Update

The wildfire that engulfed much of Bastrop County also consumed most of Bastrop State Park, but Buescher State Park was not affected by the blaze and is back open and ready for visitors.

Enjoy a relaxing day at Buesher State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The two adjoining parks are home to the famous “Lost Pines,” an isolated timbered region of loblolly pine and hardwoods. This 70-square-mile forest of loblolly pines is the state’s most westerly stand of these trees. These woods are called “lost” because they’re separated from the main mass of East Texas loblolly pines by about 100 miles.

Buescher State Park

The wildfire charred 34,000 acres and burned more than 1,500 homes, but Buescher State Park manager Cullen Sartor said his park dodged serious damage.

“The fire got within about two miles of our northern park boundary so it was pretty close,” Sartor said. “A little scary but we came out unscathed so that’s important.”

Bastrop and Buesher state parks are connected by Park Road 1. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buescher is only a sixth of the size of Bastrop State Park, but there is still plenty for park visitors to do.

“If you want to experience a little bit of the lost pines like you could at Bastrop State Park, we have plenty of those here,” Sartor said. “We also have some pretty good fishing opportunities in the lake. The fisheries department came out and put about 900 pounds of catfish in, so I know they are pretty hungry right now.”

As the recovery from those devastating wildfires continues, Sartor hopes campers who would have gone to Bastrop State Park stay in the area.

“We’re getting a lot of folks that had reservations there,” Sartor said. “We’re still able to keep them in the area so that helps the local economy.”

Sartor hopes that as wildfire recovery continues, campers who would have gone to Bastrop State Park continue to stay in the area instead. He said the park has gotten a lot of campers that had reservations at Bastrop, reports KSAT.

Bastrop State Park

The new target date for reopening Bastrop State Park, has been pushed back to December 1 due to scheduling delays for ongoing and start-up capital repair projects affecting the cabins, campground, park roads, and refectory, according to a recent state park news release.

The Central Reservation Center in Austin will continue to alert customers who had reservations for cabins in coming months that those reservations have been canceled for now due to the reroofing project, which originally had been slated for completion by the end of December, but whose start has been delayed due to the fire and cleanup efforts. The reroofing project is now scheduled to begin later this year and wrap up by the end of February 2012.

“We understand that these projects will displace many park visitors,” says Todd McClanahan, superintendent of the Lost Pines Complex, which includes Bastrop and Buescher state parks, “however, they are sorely needed. We are fast-tracking the cabin reroofing. Park staff will continue with cleanup efforts from the devastating wildfire as well.”

Camping at Bastrop State Park prior to the fire. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although the fire has scarred the landscape, McClanahan says campgrounds will be reopened by December 1 despite the ongoing demolition and replacement of two restrooms. Alternative restrooms and showers will be made available. Campers will find resealed or new roads, parking areas, and RV pads being paved by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Bastrop will soon reopen and in many ways will be like a new park,” McClanahan adds. “Park management asks for its customers’ continued patience as we work to restore this national landmark.”

Bastrop State Parks 18-hole golf course, operated by the Lost Pines Golf Club, recently reopened to play and is open daily.


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