Located just east of Austin, Bastrop is set among the “Lost Pines,” believed to have once been part of an unique pine-oak forest in Central Texas. The fully equipped cabins and group facility were constructed by the CCC in the 1930s using local sandstone so that the structures seem to be a natural part of the landscape.
Bastrop and Buescher state parks lie within the ecological region known as Post Oak Savannah. The loblolly pine woodland is isolated from the main body of East Texas Pines by approximately 100 miles of rolling, post oak woodlands. This pine-oak woodland covers approximately 70 square miles and is part of the most westerly stand of loblolly pines in the state. A quiet woodland and rugged hills make this park one of the most beautiful in Texas.
Over 75,000 acres of loblolly pines, known as the Lost Pines ecosystem, lie scattered across sections of five counties on the Texas Coastal Plain. A portion of this magnificent pine forest is located in Bastrop and Buescher state parks.
The Lost Pines are significant in that they represent the westernmost stand of loblolly pine trees in the United States. Separated from the East Texas Pineywoods by nearly 100 miles, pollen records indicate the pines have persisted in this area for over 18,000 years. Sandy and gravely soils with a sub-surface layer of water preserving clay help to create an environment where loblolly pines can flourish. Over time the climate became drier but the local sandy aquifer-laced soils provided conditions for the trees to thrive. The pines have become genetically unique, having adapted to 30 percent less rainfall than loblollies from East Texas and adjacent states.
A mosaic of pine, oaks, shrubs, grassland and mixed flowering plants create a diverse environment important to many species of wildlife including the pileated woodpecker, the largest of the woodpeckers. Many other species of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, rabbits, squirrels, opossums and armadillos scurry through the woods.
The seasonally moist sandy soils of the Lost Pines provide critical habitat for the largest remaining population of the endangered Houston toad. The Houston toad was recognized as an endangered species in 1970. Loss of habitat in its historic range, largely due to urbanization, has caused a marked decline in populations of this species in recent decades.
A checklist of the bird life of Bastrop and Buescher state parks is available at the park headquarters.