texas parks

Fairfield Lake State Park Reopens Temporarily

NBC Universal, Inc.

Fairfield Lake State Park temporarily reopened Tuesday to a line of eager boaters.

Forrest Dean Chap was among those who couldn’t wait to get back on the water and fish.

”I missed the park,” Chap said. “I have a lot of memories here and spent a lot of time meditating out here.”  

The 50-year-old state park closed in February after it was announced the land was sold to a private developer and the park had been given 120 days to vacate the land. Texas Parks and Wildlife closed the park on Feb. 28, well ahead of the deadline to begin decommissioning the park.

Park officials decided to reopen the land to visitors on the recommendation of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said Fairfield Lake State Park Superintendent Daniel Stauffer. “We have visitors in the park again. Our boat ramps are full. We’ve got people on the trails. We’ve got people in our day use area. There is life breathed back into Fairfield Lake State Park. So, it’s nice.”

The park will be open daily for free until the park reaches capacity. Only day-use visits are allowed. No overnight stays and the park will not be taking any reservations.

Crews are already clearing trees and brush at the request of the new buyer. Dallas developer Todd Interests plans to build a gated community of high-dollar vacation homes. The company has not responded to NBC 5's requests for comment.

“It’ll be really sad. We don’t want this park to close,” said McKenzie Olsen of Corsicana.

The mother of three boys has been bringing her children fishing at Fairfield Lake for years.

“We saw last night that it was opening today and I thought, ‘That’s what we’re doing tomorrow. We’re going fishing,’” Olsen said.

Texas Park and Wildlife officials said they are still working with the new buyers to try and preserve the park.

“With the dogwoods blooming and the bass biting, spring is an especially vibrant time to visit Fairfield Lake State Park,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my conversation with Vistra and Todd Interests to preserve both the park and Fairfield Lake for future enjoyment, but for now I applaud our TPWD staff for their dedication, creativity and flexibility in keeping the gates open. Many Texans will benefit from the continued use of this cherished resource.”

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