TPWD Holds Weekend Meeting in Latest Step to Save East TX Park
At a special Saturday meeting in Austin, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorized Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to file a petition for condemnation and pursue acquisition at fair market value of approximately 5,000 acres in Freestone County to preserve Fairfield Lake State Park and Fairfield Lake for public use.
Commissioners also instructed TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz, Ph.D. to prepare a commission policy restricting the agency’s use of eminent domain to extraordinary and unusual situations. Commissioners will consider the policy proposal at their August 24 meeting.
Today’s action is the latest step that the TPWD and its commissioners have taken in their persistent and extraordinary steps to acquire and preserve the park under more amicable terms.
“Condemnation represents an extraordinary step and last resort for TPWD, and it is not one we undertake lightly,” said Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III. “However, TPWD’s mission calls for managing and conserving the natural resources of Texas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Fairfield Lake State Park has welcomed millions of visitors over half a century, and we have a clear mandate to preserve this public resource that is beloved by so many.”
The park welcomes more than 80,000 visitors each year, with non-local visitors generating an economic impact of more than $1.14 million. Fairfield Lake is considered one of the nation’s finest bass fishing locations. It has produced 69 lunkers since 2020, making it one of the most productive fisheries maintained by TPWD.
“TPWD has a track record of building coalitions to expand conservation and outdoor recreation across our state while supporting private property rights and Texas businesses,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner Jeffery Hildebrand. “This is a unique case, involving an established park with tens of millions in agency infrastructure investment, but given the importance of private property rights and the critical role private landowners play in wildlife conservation in Texas, TPWD will continue to reserve condemnation for the rarest and most unique circumstances.”