The Bastrop CBC Circle

Centered 2 miles SE of Bastrop State Park Headquarters on Hwy 71, the Bastrop CBC Circle is situated in the "lost pines" area of central Texas.

Bastrop and Buescher State Parks were acquired from the cities of Bastrop and Smithville and from private land donations. In the 1930s the Buescher family gave 636 acres for a state park. Since its dedication in 1937, Bastrop State Park has grown to approximately 5,800 acres of pine laden rolling hills while Buescher compliments this pre­serve with an additional 1,017 acres.

People have long wondered why the pines are here. The stark contrast of the deep sandy soils and pine trees, compared with the surrounding oak savanna and grassland prairie, begs the question: Are the Pines really lost? Legend has it that American Indians traveled here from East Texas and planted seedlings to remind them of the home they left behind. Other myths claim that the pines got “lost” or that they were once part of a continuous stretch of loblolly forest from the east.

The Lost Pines are significant in that they represent the westernmost stand of loblolly pine trees in the United States. Separated from the East Texas Pineywoods by nearly 100 miles, pollen records indicate the pines have persisted in this area for over 18,000 years. Sandy and gravely soils with a sub-surface layer of water preserving clay help to create an environment where loblolly pines can flourish. Over time the climate became drier but the local sandy aquifer-laced soils provided conditions for them to thrive. The pines have become genetically unique, having adapted to 30% less rainfall than loblollies from East Texas and adjacent states. Over 75,000 acres of loblolly pines, known as the Lost Pines ecosystem, lie scattered across sections of five counties on the Texas Coastal Plain. A portion of this magnificent pine forest is located in Bastrop and Buescher State Parks.

(quoted from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Interpretive Guide to Bastrop and Buescher State Parks)

In September 2011, Bastrop State Park and the surrounding pine forest were stricken by wildfire that affected 96 percent of the park. However, firefighters were able to save the historic cabins and facilities that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park is recovering from the fire, and most trails, campsites and facilities have reopened to the public.

Because of the unique ecosystem and the recovery from the devastating fire, the Bastrop Christmas Bird Count is one of the most important CBCs in Texas. Keeping an ongoing record of the avifauna of this region will provide important data to scientists as they work to chronicle the trends in bird abundance and diversity over time.