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Gutted Greens: More Than Half Of Texas’ State Parks Hit By Floods, Floating Debris

Courtesy: The Texas Parks And Wildlife Department
A view of where the lake used to be at Bastrop State Park before a dam breach on a seven-acre lake washed out a roadway and left significant debris.

The torrential rainstorms that hammered the state for more than a week have left their mark on the Texas state park system.

Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesman, Steve Lightfoot, said that the Central Texas corridor caught the worst of the flooding, but things were managed as much as possible by park staff. Like at the Blanco State Park, which caught the early force of the river’s swell, where quick action by park personnel kept more than 70 visitors safe during the deluge.

“The first things that were flooded out were the exit roads from the park. We had quite a number of visitors for the Memorial Day Weekend there, and some quick thinking by our parks superintendent and some of his staff — they got down there and were able to evacuate over 70 campers up to high ground near his residence,” Lightfoot explained.

Lightfoot said Blanco State Park and most of Bastrop State Park could be closed for several weeks for clean up, provided further flooding does not occur.

Credit Courtesy: The Texas Parks And Wildlife Department
The Blanco State Park damaged after the floods this week.

Memorial Day floods damaged more than half the state parks in Texas and as Lightfoot stated, parks in Central Texas bore the brunt of it. “In particular, Bastrop State Park. We're going to have to replace a dam that breached on a seven-acre lake in the park. When that happened, it washed out a roadway and left some pretty significant debris. Blanco State Park also received some extensive damage when the river there rose to historic levels,” said Lightfoot.

He said most of the damage came from flood debris. Sixteen parks are closed as of today, but others are closed only in the areas damaged by the movement of debris across campgrounds and other public areas. Fortunately, he said, most of the structures remained stable throughout the system. 

Of the more than 90 parks in Texas, Lightfoot said 50 parks from the Panhandle to the coast suffered some level of damage.

More information on individual park closures is available at tpwd.texas.gov.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.