The massive wildfire tearing through Bastrop County has scorched two-thirds or more of the 6,500 acre Bastrop State Park. But Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say they have made substantial progress in an effort to save historic buildings in the park.
Many of Texas state parks were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era job creation program. As such, the cabins, a refectory, and other structures at Bastrop State Park are considered historic. Texas Parks and Wildlife has this on-line exhibit with more on the history of the 1930s effort to construct state parks.
Texas Parks and Wildlife used heavy equipment to dig fire lanes around the areas they are trying to protect. The Texas Department of Transportation brought in tanker trucks of water that were used to saturate the ground around the buildings. Crews also soaked the wooden shingles of the structures so that falling embers would not set them on fire.
And while you may mourn the loss of thousands of acres of pine trees in the park, officials say wildfires are actually part of the natural cycle of life for the protected habitat.
“As long as personal property and lives are not lost, the land actually benefits from these burns, as bizarre as that seems,” Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Cox told KUT News. “Once it starts raining again, the pine trees will come back and the park probably will be more verdant than ever.”