Texas State Park Receives $10,000 from Coca-Cola

Bastrop State Parkwas awarded a $10,000 grant from Coca-Cola and will use the windfall to underwrite the continued building of new park trails.

Camping in the “lost pines” at Bastrop State Park prior to the fire. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The fire-ravaged Texas State Park is received the grant in connection with Coca-Cola’s “America Is Your Park” campaign, in which parks nationwide competed to win the most votes for a top grant of $100,000 from Coca-Cola’s Live Positively initiative.

Bastrop State Park came in 12th with 661,565 votes. “America’s Favorite Park” is Pratt Park in Prattville, Alabama, with 28,734,539 votes.

Pratt Park receives a $100,000 grant from Coca-Cola’s Live Positively initiative.

“The tremendous support we received from people and companies for Bastrop State Park is testament to the special place this park holds in the minds and hearts of Texans,” said Brent Leisure, Texas State Parks director.

“We are very appreciative of Coca-Cola’s $10,000 donation that will allow us to hire America’s YouthWorks to complete new trails in the park.”

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

Since last year’s horrific Labor Day Weekend fire that hit 96 percent of the 6,500-acre state park, more than $200,000 in donations for Bastrop State Park recovery have come from a variety of sources.

The donations have helped Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) initiate a contract with American YouthWorks to assist with restoration efforts that include clearing downed trees and other debris, restoring park trails, and constructing hand-hewn pine log bridges.

Despite the destruction of much of its loblolly pine forests, Bastrop State Park is seeing the growth of some vegetation and the return of park customers who are coming to camp, rent a cabin, fish, play golf, and picnic. Visitors can stay at all four campgrounds and the 13 climate-controlled cabins, which are sporting new shingle roofs, and most of the park trails have been reopened.

Effects of 2011 Wildfire

In September 2011, Bastrop State Park and the surrounding loblolly pine forest were stricken by wildfire that affected 96 percent of the park. However, firefighters were able to save the historic cabins and facilities that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corpsin the 1930s.

The park is recovering from the fire, and most trails, campsites, and facilities have reopened to the public. All areas of the park are open except the following, which will remain closed until further notice:

  • Area east of Harmon Road including that section of the Lost Pines Hiking Trail
  • Gotier Trace and areas north and south of the road
  • Primitive Camping

Campaign to Replace 4 Million Burned Trees

State parks officials have kicked off a campaign to raise money to replace millions of the loblolly pine trees that were lost during the wildfires. The campaign is intended to replace 4 million trees on 16,000 acres. Foresters say it will be at least 30 years before the loblolly pine seedlings grow to resemble a forest.

Two million trees will be planted in the park and another two million outside the park. The more than $4 million fundraising effort will be led by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Rediscover Bastrop State Park

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

Rediscover Bastrop State Park on Saturday, September 1

FREE park entry from 1-4 p.m.

One year ago, wildfire swept through Bastrop State Park. Find out what the future of the pines looks like through guided hikes, exhibits, and activities for all ages.

Meet firefighters who helped defend the park during last September’s wildfire, and learn how you can help the forest recover. Scheduled activities include:

  • Guided hikes at 2:00, 2:30, and 3:00 p.m.
  • See artifacts recovered from the fire
  • Meet ambassador Houston toads
  • Make your own toad abode
  • Meet a firefighter
  • See fire engines and equipment
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Demonstrations and much more!

Details

Bastrop State Park

Elevation: 374-600 feet

Entrance fee: $4/person

Camping fees: Campsites with water, $12; campsites with water and electric, $20; campsites with electric, water, and sewer, $20

Address: 3005 Hwy 21 East, PO Box 518, Bastrop TX 78602 (Note: Address does not show up in most mapping software)

Directions: 1 mile east of Bastrop on Texas 21, also accessible from the east on Texas 71 or by way of Buescher State Park along Park Road 1

Contact: (512) 321-2101

Website: tpwd.state.tx.us

Worth Pondering…

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.

—Willa Cather

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Vote to Help Bastrop State Park Back From the Ashes

Bastrop State Park is making a strong comeback after last Labor Day Weekend’s devastating wildfire that burned most of the park.

Now there’s a way you can help bring Bastrop State Park back from the ashes. An additional $100,000 would give a huge boost to help this beloved and iconic state park.

Coca-Cola will provide a $100,000 grant to the park that receives the most votes during its national “America Is Your Park” promotion.

“While all of our state parks deserve support and would benefit from the $100,000 grant in these times of budget shortfalls,” says Texas State Parks director Brent Leisure.

“Rallying around hard-hit Bastrop State Park will give us the best chance to win the cash to continue restoring the national landmark and the Lost Pines ecosystem. This is a grassroots effort that, to be successful requires, support from not only the Bastrop community, but from park-lovers throughout Texas.”

Vote online at livepositively.com/parks and while you’re there be sure to register your FourSquare account so you can earn the park 100 votes when you “check-in”!

Help spread the “love” for Bastrop State Park by telling your family and friends to vote, too, and by posting the link on your Facebook page and your other social media accounts. Remember that you can go online daily to cast your vote for Bastrop State Park up until the deadline.

The three parks that receive the most votes by July 15, 2012 will be awarded recreation grants in the following amounts:

  • First Place – $100,000
  • Second Place – $50,000
  • Third Place – $25,000
Camping in the "lost pines" at Bastrop State Park prior to the fire. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If Bastrop State Park collects the most votes in this third annual national competition, the $100,000 award would be used to keep American YouthWorks members working at the park to advance the recovery of the park’s infrastructure and forest landscape, according to Leisure.

The Bastrop State Park voting campaign already is receiving support from both the public and private sectors, including Greater Austin Merchants Association and the City of Bastrop.

Campaign sponsor Coca-Cola will also be giving Bastrop State Park $10,000 to fund a trail-building event at the park on June 20 and help spread awareness of the promotion.

Since last year’s tragic Labor Day fire that hit 96 percent of the 6,500-acre state park, $262,000 in donations for Bastrop State Park recovery have come from a variety of sources.

The donations have helped Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) initiate a contract with American YouthWorks to assist with restoration efforts that include clearing downed trees and other debris, restoring park trails, and constructing hand-hewn pine log bridges.

Despite the destruction of much of its loblolly pine forests, Bastrop State Park is seeing the growth of some vegetation and the return of loyal park customers who are returning to camp, rent a cabin, fish, play golf, picnic, and listen for the chirp of the park’s endangered Houston toads.

Visitors can stay at all four campgrounds and the 13 climate-controlled cabins, which are sporting new shingle roofs, and 80 percent of the park trails have been reopened.

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

Bastrop’s Lost Pines wildfire—the most destructive in Texas history—resulted in a three-month closure of the state park, causing serious financial losses for a site that draws 170,000 visitors a year and has an annual $2 million economic impact on Bastrop County.

Currently, the top 5 parks are:

  • Swift-Cantrell Park, Kennesaw, Georgia (4,616,854 votes)
  • Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, Texas (2,580,812 votes)
  • Parr Hill Park, Joplin, Missouri (1,124,100 votes)
  • Unicoi State Park, Georgia (793, 824 votes)
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Jekyll Island, Georgia (765,585 votes)

Worth Pondering…

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

—Les Brown

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Vote for Your Favorite Park 2012

The third annual America Is Your Park campaign was launched last week (May 23) by Coca-Cola Live Positively.

Parks are the anchors of our communities, providing places for friends, families, and neighbors to be active and enjoy the outdoors together. Last year, park supporters cast more than 13 million votes for their favorite park to win money for improvements.

America Is Your Park campaign empowers people to rally their communities and get out the vote to select America’s Favorite Park.

Slides, park swings, see-saws, and open play spaces all stand to benefit in the third-annual America Is Your Park campaign.

With the click of a button, park goers can change their communities by voting for their favorite park to win the title of “America’s Favorite Park.” Also at stake is a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative.

“Parks are the anchors of our communities, but budget cuts have left them with little funds for restoration,” said Celeste Bottorff, Vice President, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America.

“Through the Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign, a small action today can turn your favorite park into a better place to play tomorrow. So whether it’s an evening walk or a day of family fun, get out and play in the park—and vote to help your favorite win.”

Voting for “America’s Favorite Park” is easy!

With just the click of a button, people can vote for their favorite park at LivePositively.com/parks.

Park lovers earn one vote per click for their favorite park—and can also earn 100 votes each time they “check in” from the park. More details on how to vote from the park are available on the website.

The three parks that receive the most votes by July 15, 2012 will be awarded recreation grants in the following amounts:

  • First Place – $100,000
  • Second Place – $50,000
  • Third Place – $25,000

In addition, a $15,000 grant will be awarded at random to another park that places in one of the remaining top 25 spots. These recreation grants are provided to help restore, rebuild, or enhance activity areas in parks where people can play and be active.

Park supporters can vote for their favorite park by:

  • Going online (via computer or smartphone) to LivePositively.com/parks (1 vote each)
  • “Checking in” from the park (100 votes each)

The America Is Your Park campaign was developed in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

Currently, the top 5 parks are:

  • Swift-Cantrell Park, Kennesaw, Georgia (539,013 votes)
  • Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, Texas (523,602 votes)
  • Parr Hill Park, Joplin, Missouri (310,424)
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Jekyll Island, Georgia (143,250 votes)
  • Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Georgia (142,432 votes)

The Story of Last Year’s Winner Inspires Communities in 2012
It takes a community to save a park! The 2011 winner, Oak Park, is a great example of a community that banded together to rock the park vote.

After a flood destroyed this beloved park in the small town of Minot, North Dakota, residents organized to get out the vote. They urged neighbors to join in, organized voting drives, and spread their message through online communities. Hometown celebrities also energized their social networks, and their fans responded by supporting the cause.

The $100,000 grant is being used to help rebuild the park so families can enjoy the outdoors once again.

“Residents of Minot pulled out all the stops to get people involved,” said Ron Bieri, Minot Park Board President.

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Worth Pondering…

I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.

—Boris Becker

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America Is Your Park

For more than 40 years, Coca-Cola has supported America’s parks through partnerships with individual parks and national park organizations. The Company has donated more than $14 million for restoration and renovation of our country’s parks through programs like America Is Your Park.

Explore the depths of Soudan Underground Mine as a caged elevator lowers you a half-mile underground to the 27th level and into the heart of the mine. An electric train ride brings visitors to the last and deepest area mined, unchanged from when the mine closed in 1963. (Credit: dnr.state.mn.us)

In addition to donating $175,000 to the top three winning parks—Oak Park (Minot, North Dakota), Soudan Underground Mine State Park (Minnesota), and Cunningham Park (Joplin, Missouri)—Coca-Cola also gave $70,000 in grants to national, state, and local parks this summer at health and wellness events in select cities across the country. These events featured Women’s National Basketball Association FIT Clinics, appearances from local dignitaries, and grant presentations.

Other parks that made it into the top ten include:

  • Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Tennessee
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia
  • McGrath State Beach, California
  • Mason Neck State Park, Virginia
  • Lake Warren State Park, South Carolina
  • Ponca State Park, Ponca, Nebraska
  • Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia

About the Winning Parks

Oak Park

Oak Park is owned and operated by the Minot Park District. Before it was damaged by a flood in 2011, it served as a gathering place for families, with a splash park, picnic shelters, walking trails, an accessible playground (Magic Smiles Playground), sand volleyball court, and other amenities. The park plans to use the $100,000 recreation grant to help restore the park so families can be active together again.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park. (Credit: dnr.state.mn.us)

Website: minotparks.com

Soudan Underground Mine State Park

Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Ely is home to Minnesota’s oldest iron ore mine, which operated from 1882 until 1962. In recent years, approximately 30,000 visitors annually have donned hard hats and descended a half-mile underground in a cage to take part in the interpretive programs within the historic mine.

The park also offers tours of an underground physics lab, where scientists from around the world are studying how the universe works. Underground tours are not available at this time due to ongoing repair work from a fire in March 2011, but above-ground opportunities include interpretive programs, hiking, and geocaching.

Website: dnr.state.mn.us

Cunningham Park

Cunningham Park is Joplin’s first city park, located in the southwest section of the city. On May 22, 2011, Cunningham was completely destroyed by a tornado that left the community without the tennis and basketball courts, playground, and pool that made the park so popular. The park plans to use the $25,000 recreation grant to rebuild the playground and picnic shelters, plant trees, and build a memorial dedicated to tornado victims and the many volunteers that aided in rescue and recovery.

Website: joplinparks.org

Related

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on the second annual America Is Your Park campaign

Part 1: North Dakota Park Wins 2012 National Contest

Worth Pondering…

The key to happiness is realizing that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to respond.

—Keith D. Harrell

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