I just heard on NPR that there is a raging forest fire in Bastrop, TX that is destroying everything in its path. Already 2 lives have been lost. I remember fondly orienteering in Bastrop State Park with its tall pines and interesting terrain. I think this is the site of NTOA's Junior Training Camps held over several years. The club there has recently been revived by Nancy _____. Will this mean the end of the park as we know it? Any news? It would be such a loss to orienteers and non-orienteers alike. Can anyone post the map?
looks like the eastern part has burned.... hopefully the Bermuda Triangle portion and the campground /cabin loop are ok.... i guess one positive spin is that large portion of the eastern portion of the park was not really runnable due to the underbrush.... sometimes fires make the forest more runnable. we had a nice event at Tyler State Park one year after a controlled burn and it was great (except for the soot on your clothes)....i liked navigating past the still smoldering stumps.....
Thanks, Janet. I should know her last name by now, but Bowers didn't sound right to me. Thanks. Glad to hear that part of the park may still be OK. Thanks for the links. I haven't dug out my old map yet, maybe I won't have to!
If the canopy burns, you can cross that area off the possible O-venues list, as undergrowth will flourish. The SE part of Silvermine, where it happened many years ago, became horrendously unrunnable -- barely even walkable.
While Bastrop is closer to Austin, the Bastrop S.P. map is a Houston O Club map, the O home of Nancy Niemann. HOC holds a 2 day event there every Oct., typically on Halloween weekend. Nancy Niemann is often either the meet director or course setter (or both). While the map has become increasingly dated, it is (was) the best terrain in the TX/LA area; with an updated map it is most certainly A meet quality terrain. TJOC was held there the first couple of years of the camp, around '99-'00; ever since TJOC has in NTOA land.
The Austin O Club was revived by Radu Graevu and Radu Urdu about 3 years ago, with Nancy Bowers coming on board soon after. Radu U has since gone back to Romania. Radu G and Nancy Bowers now carry the AOC banner.
Getting back to Bastrop, the area is interesting because it is an island of east Texas Piney Woods separated from the main areas farther to the east. It was also home to an endangered species of toad. It will be interesting to see how the vegetation and wildlife recover after what is obviously more than a controlled burn.
Based on this last satellite map it looks like the whole park burned right up to golf course on the entrance road. Not good..... This park had a permanent o course with plastic stake marker. Melted? I wonder also if the forest can be replanted like the paper companies do? Are the pines there the same as e Texas?
Human and property toll aside, this is a huge loss for orienteering in our region. I am very sad and depressed. TX has not done a great job at setting aside and developing park lands and to lose any is a big deal. But Bastrop was really a jewel. Orienteering aside, this is a huge loss.
Thanks, Tom, for the clarification. I know Nancy B is with AOC and Nancy N (my sister!) is with HOC, but forgot about Bastrop being HOC's best map. Hope they can go ahead in October, but I suspect it will have to wait. May the fires have saved the trees but removed the heavy undergrowth!!
Ugh, this is a big bummer. Bastrop was a very nice place to orienteer. And, as Tom says, there's not much public park land in TX. Bastrop is (was?) one of the nicer ones - enough so that I once drove from San Antonio up to Bastrop just for a trail run!
Thanks for all of the updates. Now here's something interesting and fun that has come out of this. Check this out: Go to Google Maps and search for Bastrop State Park, TX. Then click on Satellite. Zoom out to a scale of about 5 miles and notice an interesting feature about 5 miles ESE of the park.
Do it? How cool is that? Ethan just googled it and got the back story. . .
So glad the CCC buildings have survived. Maybe the forest can rebound if the fire went through fast enough and only scorched the big trees while burning the underbrush and dead trees. And maybe the toads had the wherewithall to burrow underground till the fire passed, though there may be nothing for them to eat if they emerge unscathed.
Thanks, Guy for the story and Mal11 for the update and Tom for your optimism.
That type of scene is somewhat familiar to what I've seen in southern California where fires regularly scorch out the underbrush and in Florida and North Carolina where 'controlled burns' are used to rid the parks of foreign species and reduce the danger of more serious forest fires.
Forests have amazing resilliance. In fact I'm told that it is heat from fires that bring the seeds in pine cones to life so, in the absence of planting activity by humans, fires are needed to regenerate forests.
The Bastrop Park O map will probably have to redrawn to reflect the new vegetation circumstances. When the new map is produced I hope they will keep Al Smith's name on it to reflect that he did the original field work.
Example of the impact of extreme fire on terrain. The same scene photographed annually over four years before, immediately after and subsequent years after a major fire. This is in Australia and the fire was the 2009 event when many people died. This particular fire was on the outskirts of Bendigo.