Meeting Announced to Consider Condemning Property Including Fairfield Lake State Park
June 2, 2023
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AUSTIN— Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission announced Friday it will hold a special meeting at 10:30 a.m. June 10 to consider acquiring through condemnation a 5,000-acre property in Freestone County that includes Fairfield Lake and Fairfield Lake State Park.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) posted notice of the meeting following sale of the property by Vistra Corp. to Dallas-based Todd Interests, which has stated publicly it plans to build a private, gated community with a golf course. TPWD also has reason to believe Todd Interests could divert up to 14,000-acre feet of the lake’s water per year for use outside Freestone County.
“It is with firm resolve that we move forward to protect Fairfield Lake from potential devastation,” said Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III. “We offered a 20 million assignment fee, plus reimbursement of up to $5 million in expenses, as incentive for Todd Interests to relinquish its contract. That would have given us the opportunity to purchase Fairfield Lake State Park from Vistra. Instead, Todd Interests has chosen to raze a public asset that is beloved by Texans and welcomes more than 80,000 visitors each year. TPWD’s mission compels us to try to save not only the park, but one of our state’s finest fisheries.”
Hydrological modeling by TPWD shows diverting the water outside Freestone County could reduce reservoir volume by as much as a third, drawing the water level down eight feet and trimming 11 miles, or 41 percent, of the shoreline. This would damage aquatic life in the lake and affect wildlife.
Fairfield Lake is considered one of the nation’s finest bass fishing locations. Supported by TPWD’s Toyota Sharelunker Program, it has produced 69 lunkers since 2020, making it one of the most productive fisheries maintained by TPWD.
“We have heard from Texans and state leaders who have told us unequivocally that they want to keep this gem of a park open for public recreation and enjoyment,” said TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz, Ph.D. “TPWD extended a formal offer to Todd Interests and, with the full support of our commission, we were vocal in our intention to conduct realistic negotiations with realistic conditions. Unfortunately, Todd Interests would not work with us, and we now need to pursue other options.”
Under the terms of its lease with Vistra, TPWD has until June 13 to vacate the property.