TEXAS STATE PARKS
Natural Economic Assets
STATE PARK PROFILES
Buescher State Parks
Bastrop County is rare in that it has two conjoined state parks, Bastrop and Buescher (pronounced “Bisher”). The larger Bastrop State Park meets Buescher State Park via the scenic 12-mile Park Road 1C. The main entrance to the 5,926-acre Bastrop State Park is located within the limits of the city of Bastrop, although the park itself extends well outside the city.
Bastrop State Park hosts numerous attractions, including an 18-hole public golf course, a public swimming pool, hiking trails, a lake for fishing and canoeing and rustic cabins built when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the park in the 1930s. Bastrop State Park is one of only six state parks in the U.S. designated as a National Historic Landmark. It was recognized as such because it represents a showcase for the impressive and aesthetically appealing work of the CCC in Texas.1
Bastrop is one of the state’s most-visited parks, with an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 visitors annually.
The 1,017-acre Buescher State Park provides fishing, hiking and camping and a quieter atmosphere than Bastrop’s park.2 Both parks serve as vital habitat for the Houston toad, a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act.3
Bastrop is one of the state’s most-visited parks, with an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 visitors annually. Most of these are recreational vehicle (RV) enthusiasts or overnight campers. The park is also one of the few parks in the state whose revenues fully cover its expenses. Its campsites with utility hookups are fully occupied on weekends year-round, often by “Winter Texans” and other RV users.
Bastrop and Buescher Park Superintendent Todd McClanahan is quick to note the important role that the state park plays in the Bastrop community. Bastrop State Park’s pool is a popular destination for local families and visitors, as it is the county’s only public swimming pool. The park is also a popular destination for scout troops and orienteering or “competitive navigation” groups. It hosts a month-long new officer academy for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department peace officers in its conference facility. McClanahan predicts that higher gas prices may lead to increased visitation at the park, as more families from nearby cities choose to travel less and vacation closer to home.4
Bastrop State Park’s pool is a popular destination for local families and visitors
Local businesspeople and community members echo McClanahan’s enthusiasm. Joe Newman of the Bastrop Economic Development Corp. says that the park is extremely popular with area citizens, and an important part of the community’s identity. For instance, the route of the BP MS 150, an annual Houston-to-Austin bike tour that raises funds for multiple sclerosis research, passes through the scenic “lost pines” of Bastrop and Buescher state parks on Park Road 1C. This is an important source of pride for the community and a pleasant experience for those participating in the event.5
Susan Weems Wendel, president of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, considers the parks “tremendous assets that benefit the community.” Besides the MS 150, the “Pedal through the Pines” bicycle event each March brings 1,300 bicyclists to town, and most of them stay at the park. Wendel says the chamber makes sure the parks have racks of brochures touting local hotels and events because “we like cross-pollination – we make sure they come to both.”
She finds that many local businesses such as restaurants and bed and breakfasts prosper from proximity to the parks. Visitors who stay at the park are likely to go into town for supplies, dinner, shopping and other activities, generating significant economic activity for area merchants. The half-million annual visitors to Bastrop are an important part of the region’s economic development strategy. “Bastrop would be less of a destination without the state parks,” says Wendel.6
Kevin White, president of the Bastrop Board of Realtors, says that in his experience, some people who move to the area do so due to their fond memories of visiting Bastrop State Park when they were young. “So many people made a connection with Bastrop because of the state park,” he says.
Visitors who stay at the park form positive impressions about the community, enhancing their image of the region. In addition, many people who work in Austin choose to live in Bastrop due to its natural amenities, including the parks.7
Bastrop State Park expects some big changes in the next few years. Bastrop is due to receive $3.5 million in state funds for repairs and renovations, for projects like these:
- Americans with Disabilities Act compliance throughout the park, including improvements at 10 to 15 campsites
- electrical rewiring in park cabins
- improvements for the park’s dining and conference center facility
- vehicle acquisitions and repairs
- restroom repairs
- multiple repairs at the pool
- a new roof for the golf course pro shop and
- water and wastewater plumbing upgrades
These repairs will help preserve Bastrop State Park as a uniquely important community asset. McClanahan predicts that once these repairs are made, upkeep will be less expensive and the park can focus on providing new attractions for visitors. In particular, he points to increasing demand for expanded group camping facilities that can accommodate larger parties such as family reunions.8
Bastrop State Park contributed $2,535,205 in sales and $1,092,341 in personal income
to Bastrop County
Of the two state parks, Bastrop generates the most income. In 2007, revenues were $817,385; operating expenses – excluding the costs for major repairs, capital and employee benefits – were $813,074, leaving a modest $4,311 net gain. Buescher’s revenues that year were $208,307 against operating expenses of $210,849, leaving a small deficit of $2,542 for the year.9
According to a study conducted by John Crompton of Texas A&M University, Bastrop State Park contributed $2,535,205 in sales and $1,092,341 in personal income to Bastrop County in 2006. The park also created 74.8 jobs and generated $12,676 in sales tax revenue for the county in that year.10
Summary Economic Impacts
Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, Bastrop County
|2006 County Sales||2006 County Resident Income||2006 County Employment (Full-Time Equivalent)||2006 County Sales Tax Generated|
Source: Texas A&M University.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Direct Spending (Fiscal 2007)
|Revenues||Operating Expenses*||Net Income|
* Includes salaries, operating expenses and minor (non-capital) repair.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
- 1 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Bastrop State Park,” pp.1-3, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/bastrop. (Last visited September 17, 2008.)
- 2 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Buescher State Park,” pp. 1-3, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/buescher/. (Last visited September 17, 2008.)
- 3 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Houston Toad (Bufo houstonensis),” p. 2, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/htoad/. (Last visited September 17, 2008.)
- 4 Interview with Todd McClanahan, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Bastrop, Texas, June 2008.
- 5 Interview with Joe Newman, Bastrop Economic Development Corporation, Bastrop, Texas, June 11, 2008.
- 6 Intervew with Susan Weems Wendel, Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, Bastrop, Texas, June 11, 2008.
- 7 Interview with Kevin White, Bastrop Board of Realtors, Bastrop, Texas, June 11, 2008.
- 8 Interview with Todd McClanahan.
- 9 Data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Revenue Less Operating Costs, FY 2006-2007,” with Texas Comptroller’s office calculations. Amounts may not total due to rounding.
- 10 Texas Coalition for Conservation, The Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks in FY 2006, by John L. Crompton and Juddson Culpepper, Texas A&M University, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (Austin, Texas, December 2006), http://rptsweb.tamu.edu/faculty/Crompton/Crompton/Articles/3.10.pdf. (Last visited September 17, 2008.)