Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps

By Cynthia Brandimarte; Angela Reed | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
Inferno at Bastrop
on Labor Day Weekend ˛˛

BASTROP—An erratic, persistent forest and brush fire, which spread over some 30,000 acres,
was extinguished Thursday, after CCC-trained fire fighters had battled the conflagration
for three to four days
.

This and other reports of a fire in Bastrop State Park and the fight by CCC workers to extinguish it appeared in area newspapers on March 12, 1942. The builders of the park, CCC Companies 1805 and 1811, had vacated the park in October 1939.1 Although they were not present to fight the 1942 fire, other CCC companies were nearby, most important, a company at the Lake Austin CCC camp. Superintendent C. L. Turner was therefore able to send forty-two workers to fight, day and night, “the aggravating flame, which would be put under control and then flare up again elsewhere.” Exhausted by this struggle, the Lake Austin enrollees were relieved by one hundred more sent from the CCC camp at Seguin. Bastrop mayor Will J. Rogers (unrelated to his famous namesake) praised the young men and observed, “If it had not been for these CCC boys, Bastrop state park would have burned up.”2

Some seventy years later, on Labor Day weekend 2011, the park and much of Bastrop County were again subjected to a fierce fire, which was sparked by electric power lines blown down in strong winds and which quickly became an inferno as a consequence of many months of unrelieved drought. This time, TPWD’s Wildland Fire Team, part of the State Parks Division, heeded desperate calls for help.

Established by TPWD in 2005, the Wildland Fire Team consists of 160 men and women who operate or manage state parks. In addition to their primary jobs, these professionals study best practices in conservation management. To prevent fires, they regularly use controlled fires to reduce fuel loads—masses of combustible material—that help restore park habitats and protect park infrastructures. Following guidelines of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), team members meet training requirements for each level in the team’s organization— firefighter, squad boss, single resource boss, burn boss, and so on.

In this photo taken only weeks before the fire, Megan,
a swimming instructor from Friends of the Pines,
exchanges a high-five with student Bella Simpson in the
Bastrop swimming pool, Bastrop State Park. (Pho to by
Randall Maxwell, June 11, 2011, TxDOT)

-109-

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Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Fore Word ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • The CCC Creates a Texas State Parks System 3
  • Building CCC Parks in Texas 29
  • The CCC Legacy’s First Half Century 59
  • Preserving the Legacy 87
  • Epilogue - Inferno at Bastrop on Labor Day Weekend~° ˛˛ 109
  • Park Profiles 121
  • Notes 153
  • Bibliogr Aphy 157
  • Index 161
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