Interpretive Guide of Bastrop State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
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THE L O ST P IN E S ARE I N Y O U R H A N D S While enjoying Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, please remember everything you see in the parks is protected. Artifacts, rocks, animals, and plants (even pine cones) are all part of the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage. Help us keep these parks a special place for everyone. • Preserve the integrity of the historic CCC structures by using them with respect. They are part of our heritage! BASTROP AND BUESCHER STATE PARKS L O S T PINES THE WELCOME TO THE LOST PINES OF TEXAS, THE H O M E O F BASTROP AND B U E S C H E R STATE PARKS. THE UNIQUE SETTING OF • Hike only on designated trails and stay out of closed areas. BOTH PARKS • Leave no trace. Keep your parks clean by picking up your trash. EVOKES A SENSE OF MYSTERY, AS THE • Preserve the parks for future generations and leave plants, animals, and rocks where you find them. SEEMS OUT OF PLACE. WHILE GREATLY ISOLATED FOREST OF LOBLOLLY PINES • Get involved by joining the Friends of the Lost Pines State Parks, a volunteer organization committed to supporting these two parks. IMPACTED BY A 2011 WILDFIRE, Bastrop State Park • Box 518, Bastrop, TX 78602 (512) 321-2101 • www.tpwd.texas.gov/bastrop SEEN THROUGHOUT THE PARK. Buescher State Park • PO Box 75, Smithville, TX 78957 (512) 237-2241 • www.tpwd.texas.gov/buescher HISTORIC STONE CABINS AND BASTROP STATE PARK IS RECOVERING WITH POCKETS OF LOBLOLLY PINES BEAUTIFUL STRUCTURES SUCH AS BRIDGES BUILT BY THE CCC DOT THE LANDSCAPE. STUNNING CRAFTSMANSHIP BRINGS THESE HISTORIC TREASURES TO LIFE. © 2019 TPWD. PWD BR P4505-043P (7/19) In accordance with Texas State Depository Law, this publication is available at the Texas State Publications Clearinghouse and/or Texas Depository Libraries. TPWD receives funds from the USFWS. TPWD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, and gender, pursuant to state and federal law. To request an accommodation or obtain information in an alternative format, please contact TPWD on a Text Telephone (TTY) at (512) 389-8915 or by Relay Texas at 7-1-1 or (800) 735-2989 or by email at email@example.com. If you believe you have been discriminated against by TPWD, please contact TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office for Diversity and Workforce Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. Texas State Parks is a division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Citizens of Bastrop and Smithville recognized early on that this land was worth protecting. Even before Bastrop State Park existed, a local hunting and fishing club laid the foundation for recreation in the Lost Pines. Bastrop and Smithville, plus local landowners, provided the land that became Bastrop and Buescher State Parks. In the 1930s, the Buescher (pronounced “Bisher”) family donated 636 acres for the park. Since its dedication in 1937, Bastrop State Park has grown to over 6,600 acres of rolling hills while Buescher complements this preserve with about 1,000 acres. Long ago, Native American groups passed through here and relied on game animals, plants, stones for tools, and water. A convenient river crossing made Bastrop County a likely place for early European settlement as well. The vital Spanish travel route known as El Camino Real de los Tejas traversed the area and contributed to the colonization of Texas. The natural resources of the area were important to regional development. Timber harvest of loblolly pines fueled construction in Austin and San Antonio. The town of Bastrop, known as Mina when established in 1832, is one of the oldest towns in Texas. Bastrop timber was exported as far as northern Mexico. TPWD/JOHN CHANDLER CLAIRE BOYER INTERPRETIVE GUIDE A N D B U E S C H E R S T A T E P A R K S GROWING FROM THE GROUND ROOSEVELT’S FOREST ARMY I In 1933 companies #1805 and #1811 arrived at Bastrop and Buescher State Parks to transform the over-cut pine forest into a scenic wonder by seeding, transplanting and clearing the tangle of brush and fallen timber. These recruits enrolled for a six-month period and were paid $30 per month, with $25 of the monthly wage being sent back home to the CCC worker’s family. In 1933, the TPWD/JOHN CHANDLER magine being 20 years old and without enough money to buy your next meal. This was reality for many young men in the early 1930s during the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a public works organization known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in an effort to put young men to work, to conserve the nation’s natural resources, create public recreational areas, and to help boost the economy. National Park Service (NPS), the CCC and the Texas State Parks Board (now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) joined forces to design and construct buildings and facilities in many Texas parks. The architect of Bastrop State Park, Arthur Fehr, followed National Park Service design principles that suggested harmony with the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and pine forests and use of native materials for construction. The stone cabins at Bastrop appear to grow out of the ground like a natural outcrop. The same non-intrusive design elements were followed for dams, culverts, bridges and fences. Similar design concepts can be seen in other parks around the nation. Bastrop’s refectory is a showplace of CCC craftsmanship. Cedar, oak, walnut and pine indigenous to the park and red sandstone quarried nearby come together in an attractive stone structure featuring carved mantles, roof beams and handmade furniture. In 1997, Bastrop State Park was awarded National Historic Landmark status, due largely to the enduring craftsmanship and landscape work done in the park by the CCC. It is one of only seven CCC parks in the nation with this recognition. THE “LOST PINES” ARE NOT LOST Before the 2011 wildfire, loblolly pines covered most of Bastrop State Park. Because this pine pocket was separated from the East Texas Pineywoods by over 100 miles, this area is known as the “Lost Pines.” How did they get here? Pollen records show that pines have persisted in this area for over 18,000 years. They were probably once connected to the Pineywoods region. Over time, the climate became drier and the region covered by pines shrank. The local PINEYWOODS sandy soils provided conditions for these LOST “Lost Pines” to survive. In fact, the pines PINES have become genetically unique, having adapted to 30% less rainfall than loblollies from East Texas and adjacent states. The Lost Pines loblollies represent the westernmost stand of loblolly pine trees in the United States. An Uncertain Future Wildfire! You don’t have to look far to see that the loblolly pines are making a comeback at Bastrop State Park. Even though the wildfire damaged over 90% of the park, only 30% was heavily burned. Recovery and management of the ecosystem will be an active and ongoing process for years to come. One tool TPWD is using to help the landscape recover is prescribed fire. Low-intensity prescribed fire will clear out the dead fuel, keep the growth of oak trees in check, and allow a new pine forest to flourish. In 2011, Texas had the warmest summer for any U.S. state since 1895 – it was even warmer than the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s! Bastrop had three months of 100°-plus days, drying the area. On September 4, high winds from Tropical Storm Lee knocked brittle, drought-stressed trees into power lines, igniting the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. The fiery monster burned for days, devouring 32,400 acres in Bastrop County, killing two people and destroying 1,696 houses and commercial structures. Hundreds of defenders, including more than 140 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees, commercial partners and firefighters from all over the country, battled the blaze. The wildfire affected over 90% of Bastrop State Park. But because of the firefighters’ efforts, only the roofs of two CCC overlook structures burned. The 2011 wildfire came close to Buescher State Park but skirted the park boundary. Just a few years later in 2015, the Hidden Pines fire burned the northern section of Buescher State Park, further impacting the Lost Pines ecosystem. Bastrop and Buescher state parks lie within the ecological region known as the Post Oak Savannah. The seasonally moist, sandy soils provide critical habitat for the endangered Houston toad. While historic habitat loss due to intensive agriculture severely reduced the Houston toad’s range in Texas, the 2011 wildfire dealt a devastating blow by reducing their habitat even more. Recovery Efforts The Lost Pines Today While it will take decades for significant stands of loblolly pines to regrow, you will see exciting changes each time you visit. This living laboratory is regularly visited by students and scientists as they study fire’s effects on birds, mammals and vegetation. You can make your own discoveries by visiting the park and seeing how the landscape changes over time. RACHEL ROMMEL B A S T R O P