Texas Rebuilds Fire-Stricken Bastrop State Park

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February 22, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Click here to watch a video, courtesy of KRIV-TV, Houston, Texas, about the rebuilding of Bastrop State Park, which was badly damaged by fire last fall and is now affected by heavy rainfall in that part of the Lone Star State. The news story follows.

Meteorologist John Dawson checks back with a favorite state park which was nearly destroyed from drought-fueled wildfires in September 2011. Over 95 percent of its 6,000 acres were scorched.

While most in Texas have rejoiced with the recent rains that we’ve seen, they’ve also created some setbacks for the park. The last week of January was too much for a park struggling to rebuild — over 4 inches of rain in one night.

“It was a lot that came in a short time period,” explains Bastrop State Park Manager Todd McClanahan. “However, with the little to no ground cover that we have left here in the park, it was probably equivalent to about a 10-inch rain. Therefore it contributed to some pretty significant flash flooding within the park. Down below the dam we actually had about a 30-foot section of road that washed out. It was in an area that we had a culvert. It gave way and the entire road is washed out.”

September and October stayed dry and gave the park time to start a good recovery after the devastating fires. Since then, the numbers have been well above average, hurting at times more than helping.

Rainfall totals at the park since the fire on Labor Day weekend 2011:

  • Sept: .32”
  • Oct: 1.94”
  • Nov: 3.56”
  • Dec: 4.32”
  • Jan: 5.46” (4.75” in one event – generated the flooding/erosion damage)
  • Feb: 4.55” so far!

“Typically, at some point after a drought you do get a heavy downpour and that usually fills things back up,” tells McClanahan. “It filled up the lake and the Houston Toad ponds but it also took a lot of valuable topsoil and did some significant erosion in our drainages, and did some pretty severe road damage as well.”

If all goes well, the park will be near full operations on Spring Break. There are many projects underway from many volunteer and state organizations. The park has been forced to cancel some reservations but hopes things will become more active as summer approaches.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” says McClanahan. “It’s been a long/rough/very frustrating few months. As much as we need the rain, it has really slowed progress on some projects while obviously creating new ones.”

So, currently there are some camping areas open, a few of the interior hiking trails, group barracks, playground and picnic area, and the golf course. The historic CCC cabins were not damaged by the fire but are closed for re-roofing, which is delayed from rain.

“We miss the campers,” shares McClanahan. “I miss the daily walkers. I miss hearing the sounds of kids running around the campgrounds and exploring on the hiking trails, that whole interaction of the general public in the parks. When we reach that plateau and get the campgrounds back open again after these two disasters, that will be a great day when that happens.”

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