Bastrop State Park seeing new life since wildfires

BASTROP, Texas — Bastrop County was the hardest hit area when wildfires broke out back on Labor Day weekend of 2011. Officials say there are glad the threat is not nearly as bad now.

The state park there lost hundreds of acres of forest to the fires. The devastation from wildfires is still very evident, but a lot of campers were out there for the Labor Day holiday weekend, and they’re starting to see the signs of new life.

The greenery of young pine trees is starting to speckle otherwise lifeless forests.

“The devastation was worse than what we expected,” said camper Dean Cope, “It’s just sad that all these trees are burnt like they are.”

Dean Cope and his wife Sammye set up camp Saturday. They’ll call this spot home for the next four months as park hosts at the campsite. They’re already growing to love it.

“Once you kind of get the feel of the park, it’s beautiful,” said Sammye, “I mean, it still has it’s beauty, but you just have to look for it.”

Dean and Sammye have been camping since 1983. Now retired, they say this is the life.

“This is a life-long dream of ours, so we’re finally getting to do it,” said Sammye.

The more they explore Bastrop State Park, the more they can see the beauty that once was.

“We went over by the south shore to the lake that’s a couple of miles from here, and I told Dean, ‘This must have been what it was like,’” said Sammye.

They know eventually, it will be again.

“That’s the reason why we’re here,” said Dean, “It didn’t turn us away.”

Though it is hot and dry, the fire threat is moderate, so camp fires are permitted. Also, Bastrop County does not have a burn ban in place now.

The Office of Emergency Management says while they need rain, the wildfire threat is nowhere near where it was three years ago.

Central Texas is still in a drought. It’s rated from “moderate” to “exceptional” out in the Hill Country, but it’s nothing like 2011. The drought monitor map Labor Day weekend three years ago when fires broke out across central Texas showed all of our area and virtually the entire state of Texas was in the “dark red” category, the worst rating possible.

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