The October issue of Texas Highways magazine features what was the beauty of the Bastrop and Buescher state parks, in the heart of the Lost Pines area. In a bitter and tragic twist of events, wildfires have since consumed virtually all of the 6,000-acre Bastrop State Park, even threatening the classic CCC cabins and other structures. Neighboring Buescher State Park was temporarily closed, but has since re-opened. Nearby, hundreds of homes were completely destroyed.
We will be watching this situation intently (along with everyone else in the area) and we'll pass along any and all information that will help you monitor events, too. We'll provide any possible information about efforts to help those in need and describe opportunities to contribute to the monumental effort to help rebuild the lives for those who have been affected.
Texas Highways: See Texas Highways' web exclusive images from our feature on Bastrop and Buescher state parks.
Texas Parks and Wildlife: Buescher State Park open and ready for visitors.
Bastrop State Park Fire and the Friends of the Lost Pines State Park: Images of the wildfire damage and some glimpses of green hope.
Bastrop State Park reopening date moved back
Oct. 6, 2011 – The new target date for reopening Bastrop State Park has been moved to Dec. 1 because of scheduling delays for ongoing and start-up capital repair projects affecting the cabins, campground, park roads and refectory.
Additionally, the Central Reservation Center in Austin continues to alert customers with cabin reservations in the coming months, that those reservations are cancelled for now. A reroofing project, originally slated for completion by the end of December, has been delayed by fire and cleanup efforts. That project is now scheduled to 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.”
Although the fire has scarred the landscape, McClanahan says campgrounds will be reopened by Dec. 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. Call (512) 321-2327 or (512) 3030-1368 for a tee time.
Park Road 1C that connects Bastrop State Park to Buescher State Park is currently closed due to wildfire damage and cleanup efforts. Buescher State Park, also located in the scenic Lost Pines, which was untouched by the wildfire that destroyed 34,000 acres, has cabins, screen shelters, campsites, 7.5 miles of hiking trails and a small lake for fishing and paddle sports.
Starting today (Sept. 30), specialists from the State of Texas, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to wildfire survivors in Travis, Williamson and Colorado counties. They also have brochures and other written materials on disaster recovery.
Fire Station #2
Any Texas survivor with questions about the recovery process or needing help registering with FEMA is urged to stop by a center. Visiting with a recovery specialist is not a requirement for survivors who want disaster assistance, but the centers are an excellent way for people to get answers to their questions about disaster aid and help applying for it.
Texans can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov,
via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA's toll-free
numbers: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay
or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are available by
phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Buescher State Park Re-Opens
As of Tuesday, Sept. 20, Buescher State Park has re-opened to the public and visitors are encouraged to take in the Lost Pines experience. Park visitation, typically estimated at $1 million a year, will help to offset lost revenue of Bastrop State Park.
Bastrop Back in Business
Bastrop Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Susan Weems Wendel says "Bastrop County is alive and well," adding that the "downtown areas are still perfect ... they just need customers. Shops and restaurants are all open for business."
She says the shelters are now empty, neighborhoods are opening up again, cleanup has begun and wind has carried away most of the smoke. "We are on the mend, and out of the ashes will come a stronger Bastrop."
Federal Disaster Assistance
Residents in Bastrop, Colorado, Houston, Leon, Travis and Williamson counties, whose homes or businesses were damaged or destroyed as a result of the recent wildfires, can now register for federal and state disaster assistance. Register online at www.disasterassistance.gov , via smart phone at m.fema.gov or by also calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) (800) 462-7585. Those using 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS) may call (800) 621-3362. Specialists are available by phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing and home repairs to make a home habitable and disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance, as well as low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Sept. 13, 2011: Bastrop State Park will be closed through at least October as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel continue to douse hot spots on the mostly-burned property and begin assessing damage as well as developing a plan to get the park reopened to the public. All other area parks are open, including nearby Buescher State Park, Palmetto State Park and Monument Hill State Historic Site.
Latest satellite imagery shows that the fire covered 95 percent of the park, as opposed to 99 percent as initially believed.
Lost Pines Complex, Bastrop and Buescher state parks superintendent Todd McClanahan said he remains concerned about the fate of the endangered Houston toad.
The list of names of people who have not been accounted for from the Bastrop fires is now down to 8: Barbara Bunklage, Mark and Ethel Ehato, Steve Ingram, Arlene Paige, Ted and Loraine Regan and Lindsey Walker. Anyone with information about their whereabouts are asked to contact emergency management officials at Bastrop County is asking all evacuated citizens to register at evacuation centers so they may account for all citizens impacted by the fire.
Sept. 11, 2011: Required re-entry passes will be issued to residents, with a photo ID. Re-entry registration areas include Terry's Corner and the Bastrop County Sheriff's office. Re-entry areas (pdf) include:
Sept. 9, 2011: Texas Forest Service reports that they responded to 19 new fires for 673 acres, including new fires in Camp and Hill counties. Making that 186 fires and 156,517 acres for which they have responded.
Sept. 8, 2011, 12:32 p.m.: Clean-up operations continue at Bastrop State Park Texas Parks and Wildlife reports that fire-fighting personnel continue clean-up operations at Bastrop State Park Thursday, having saved almost all the historic Depression-era structures on the 6,000-acre park just east of fire-ravaged Bastrop. The fire began Sunday afternoon, and some firefighters worked 30 hours straight without rest or sleep in battling the blaze.
The number of firefighters and equipment involved has been scaled down, but personnel are still working with assorted hotspots on the park and keeping an eye on the wind speed as a weak cold front passes through the area.
The park and nearby Buescher State Park remain closed to the public until further notice.
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