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Image Credit: www.kvue.com
Image Credit: www.kvue.com

If you live in the Austin area and want to get away from the heat, tourists, the everyday hustle or just another boring summer Saturday, you don’t have to go far.  You will just have to travel a little to the East.  Bastrop is about 30 miles southeast of Austin.  Texans traveling to Austin from Houston or vice versa may pass through this small, historic town.  Bastrop gained notoriety and attention on the national stage when almost two years ago the most destructive wildfire in Texas history consumed over 34,000 acres and destroyed almost 1,700 homes.  Only two people lost their lives, but many lost their homes, all their possessions and many pets did not survive.

One of the areas greatly affected by the wildfire was Bastrop State Park, which is part of the Lost Pines, the western most stand of loblolly pines in the United States.  The towering pine trees were one of Bastrop’s signature geographical features.  While the wildfire destroyed a large chunk of the Lost Pines, plants, trees, nature and wildlife are still alive and regrowing in Bastrop State park.

Discover the Lost Pines Interpretive Walks occur every Saturday morning at 10 AM.  The walks take about 60 to 90 minutes and you will walk about 1 mile.  Bastrop State Park was designated a National Historic Landmark due to the involvement and work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.  During the Great Depression, the government created work for young men by developing the CCC.  Young men in the CCC would help to improve communities by building infrastructure such as bridges or in the case of the Bastrop State Park building cabins, benches, etc.

The park is also home to the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) and over 1,000 other species of animals and plants.  The Houston toads were put on the endangered species list in 1970.  Officials estimate that there are only 3,000 to 4,000 adult Houston toads in existence.  It is incredible that the large state of Texas contains so many different geographical regions, diverse species and plant life.  You may be surprised to find such a different geographical area only 30 miles from Austin.

Discover the Lost Pines Interpretive Walks will appeal to your inner historian, naturalist or scientist.  On the walk you will learn about the history of Bastrop State Park and the involvement of the CCC, the native plants and animals of the Lost Pines area and the importance of continuing to conserve this wonderful resource.  Since the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Wildfire many community members, volunteers, naturalists, specialists and others have worked closely with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife to restore the park.  While there may not be as many tall trees and greenery, it is exciting to see all the regrowth in Bastrop State Park which stands as a testament to the resiliency of nature.  Support the regrowth of the park and learn more about the area surrounding Austin by taking advantage of the opportunity to go on an interpretive walk!

For more information: http://www.lostpinesmasternaturalist.org/discover.html