Donations Received to Help with Bastrop State Park Recovery

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AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday acknowledged $134,600 in donations to assist with the ongoing wildfire recovery efforts at Bastrop State Park.

The historic park suffered significant losses to its natural resources last September during the state’s worst ever wildfire. As soon as the fire had been controlled, work began to remove hazardous trees, rehabilitate campgrounds, repair roads and develop new trails, but in January flash flooding caused further damage to the park’s sensitive ecosystem by washing away most of the topsoil from heavily burned hillsides. That soil contained most of the remaining loblolly pine seeds.

“Although many aspects of the recovery and restoration efforts are eligible for some federal reimbursement, the most costly elements of the restoration efforts including erosion control and reforestation are not eligible for these disaster relief funds,” TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said.  “TPWD has allocated funds to support a short-term emergency erosion project, however there is a large financial gap left to fill in order to complete the work.”

Drought-hardy loblolly pine seeds will soon be sown in private nurseries and nurtured until next winter when the first wave will be ready for planting.  It is estimated that 400 acres will be planted with over 200,000 pine seedlings the first year with the next 4 years doubling to 800 acres and 400,000 seedlings each year.

“Soon after the smoke settled, it became a reality that TPWD could not afford the monumental costs associated with the tasks without some serious financial assistance,” Smith continued. “Three organizations have stepped up to the plate to present TPWD with generous donations to help us move forward with these critical projects.”

The Encana Corporation has made a $50,000 donation toward the erosion mitigation project and has committed to future assistance with replanting efforts.

Immediately after the fire, the Friends of Lost Pines State Parks began soliciting donations, pledging that all money raised would be used solely in the restoration efforts of Bastrop State Park.  The group has committed $64,600 for erosion mitigation, hazardous tree removal, purchase of a greenhouse, trail markers and supplies for volunteers.

Finally, the Apache Foundation will be covering all of the costs of seedlings for the first year for not only the state park but the entire area burned within Bastrop County for a total of $60,000. Of this amount, $20,000 will be used for the purchase of approximately 200,000 seedlings for Bastrop State Park.