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Lost pines, crowds continue to grow at Bastrop State Park

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TWC News: Lost pines, crowds continue to grow at Bastrop State Park
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Nearly one year ago, the most devastating fire in Texas’ history tore through Bastrop County with a hunger.

The losses to area homeowners were substantial, but the fire also deeply scarred the Bastrop County’s state Park, including thousands of pine trees which stood in the fire’s spreading path.

"Hearing the winds through the tall green pine trees and being underneath them was quite an experience," Greg Creacy with Texas Parks and Wildlife said.

Fire has always been a part of forest life. It’s simply another moving piece in the ecosystem.

"All the plants and animals that are in this lost pines area are adapted to that," Creacy said.

However, at the time of the Bastrop County Complex fire, Bastrop State Park had not seen a forest fire in decades, leaving the park a dangerous pile of fire fuels making it just right for disaster.

"It was intense,” Creacy said. “It was unlike anything most of us had ever seen."

A park employee and resident of Bastrop, Creacy was on hand when a ball of flame rolled through the forest dominated by lob lolly pine trees, more commonly known as “lost pines.”

The park is still charred and has much recovering left to do, but Park Superintendent Jamie Hackett told YNN that visitors are coming back.

"One of the things that is great about parks is they kind of provide a baseline of things that are normal in life,” Hackett said. “Whether that is just spending time with the family, or having a familiar place that you can go and visit and get away from some of those troubles."

Among the trees, the Historic Civilian Conservation Corps Overlook, built in the 1930s, burned to the ground. Nearly a year later, the sound of work crews can be heard on the park’s grounds.

For Creacy, there is some sadness that the trees are gone, but he is able to see a lesson of rebirth and regrowth.

"The clock has been reset,” Creacy said. “The forest will start growing, from the ground level up again, and that process will take some time."

Officials say the best way to help the park is to visit. Check Bastrop State Park’s website to learn what areas are open to the public.

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