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TPWD News Release — Oct. 13, 2011

Meadows Foundation Gives $850,000 for Bastrop Wildfire Recovery

BASTROP – The Dallas-based Meadows Foundation is making $850,000 available to help with the recovery effort in the aftermath of the devastating Bastrop County wildfire that burned much of Bastrop State Park.

“This gift, which will be divided among six governmental and non-profit agencies, is a wonderful example of private philanthropy taking the lead in helping Texas recover from this catastrophe,” said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. “Considering the fiscal constraints facing state government, and the large and unexpected expenses associated with the wildfire, this grant from the Meadows Foundation is particularly welcome and tremendously appreciated.”

The gift will be shared among the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Forest Service, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the SPCA of Texas and the Austin Humane Society.

The wind-whipped wildfire broke out the afternoon of Sept. 4. Before finally being contained, it covered some 34,000 acres, claimed two lives and destroyed more than 1,600 residences. In addition, the fire blackened 95 percent of Bastrop State Park, destroying the roofs of two scenic overlooks built in the mid-1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It also consumed equipment and structures at the nearby regional state park headquarters, but all the other historic structures on the park were saved by parks staff and firefighters.

“We are deeply grateful to the park rangers, fire fighters, and forestry workers who risked their own safety to ensure the safety of others, to the citizens of Bastrop County who helped their neighbors get out of the fires’ path, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the countless workers and volunteers who helped provide shelter and food to those who lost so much,” said Meadows Foundation President and CEO Linda Perryman Evans. “They are the real heroes, and it is a privilege to support them in their efforts.”

The Meadows Foundation reacted quickly to the fire.

“Firefighters were still putting out hotspots on the park when I received a telephone call from the foundation saying they were interested in helping us, the Texas Forest Service and other first responders,” Smith said.

TPWD’s share of the money will be used to replace some department-owned fire-fighting equipment lost in the fire, to replace two pickup trucks and one all-terrain vehicle destroyed in the fire and for hazard mitigation and erosion-control efforts at the state park.

A large part of the money will go to Texas Forest Service as pass through funding to volunteer fire departments not only in Bastrop area, but across the state.

“In Texas, local fire departments are the first line of defense against wildfires. Many operate on little to no money with aging, battle-worn equipment. And they are made up primarily of volunteers; men and women who have other jobs,” said Tom Boggus, Director Texas Forest Service. “Every penny of the Meadows Foundation’s generous gift to Texas Forest Service will see its way to our citizen responders.”

As plans are being made for the disbursement of the money from the The Meadows Foundation grant, work continues to get Bastrop State Park up and running again. The majority of the campgrounds and picnic areas on the park are expected to be re-opened to the public by Dec. 1 if all the tree and brush removal progresses as planned. The cabins and refectory, which were already scheduled to be re-roofed this fall, will remain closed through February 2012.

“Efforts related to the park’s recovery include removing hazardous trees, contracting for the harvest of salvageable timber and debris removal, erosion control and hiking trail cleanup,” said Todd McClanahan, superintendent of Bastrop State Park. “We hope to have contractors on board within the next few weeks, which will speed up recovery efforts.”

Emergency Wildfire Relief Grants
Organization Amount
Texas Forest Service for Volunteer Fire Departments $500,000
American Red Cross Dallas Chapter 200,000
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department 100,000
Salvation Army 30,000
SPCA of Texas 10,000
Austin Humane Society 10,000
Meadows Foundation (awarded) $850,000