East Texas State Park to Close as Fight To Save It Continues
The fight to save Fairfield Lake State Park continues. Unfortunately, that means the park will close to the public during this process. Fairfield Lake State Park will close to the public beginning at 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.
"Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners continue to pursue options for saving Fairfield Lake State Park, including through condemnation,” said Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III. “But in the meantime, department staff must focus on decommissioning the property before our lease ends June 13.”
The park has been open for day-use visitation while Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and its commissioners took persistent and extraordinary steps to negotiate with Todd Interests, which purchased the property from Vistra Corp.
TPWD extended a formal offer that totaled $25 million as an incentive for Todd Interests to relinquish its contract, which would have allowed TPWD to purchase the park from Vistra. Todd Interests rejected that offer.
Beginning June 5, park staff will begin to remove equipment and relocate staff members. Closure of the park also means the public’s loss of access to the two public boat ramps and a fishing pier on Fairfield Lake, a popular bass fishery.
Commissioners will hold a special meeting at 10:30 a.m. June 10 to consider acquiring through condemnation the 5,000-acre property in Freestone County that includes Fairfield Lake and Fairfield Lake State Park.
“We want to thank the more than 6,250 people who have supported Fairfield Lake State Park since it reopened,” said TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz, Ph.D., “and the millions who made memories there in the nearly 50 years before that. We look forward to having the opportunity to welcome you again someday.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) posted notice of the meeting following sale of the property by Vistra Corp. to Dallas-based Todd Interests, which has stated publicly it plans to build a private, gated community with a golf course. TPWD also has reason to believe Todd Interests could divert up to 14,000-acre feet of the lake’s water per year for use outside Freestone County.
Hydrological modeling by TPWD shows diverting the water outside Freestone County could reduce reservoir volume by as much as a third, drawing the water level down eight feet and trimming 11 miles, or 41 percent, of the shoreline. This would damage aquatic life in the lake and affect wildlife.
Fairfield Lake is considered one of the nation’s finest bass fishing locations. Supported by TPWD’s Toyota Sharelunker Program, it has produced 69 lunkers since 2020, making it one of the most productive fisheries maintained by TPWD.
“We have heard from Texans and state leaders who have told us unequivocally that they want to keep this gem of a park open for public recreation and enjoyment,” said TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz, Ph.D. “TPWD extended a formal offer to Todd Interests and, with the full support of our commission, we were vocal in our intention to conduct realistic negotiations with realistic conditions. Unfortunately, Todd Interests would not work with us, and we now need to pursue other options.”
Under the terms of its lease with Vistra, TPWD has until June 13 to vacate the property.