Fairfield Lake State Park has officially closed after 50 years of operation.
Energy company Vistra, the owner of the land, terminated Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) lease for the park in February after the land was purchased by Todd Interests, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Instead of keeping the area for a park, the new owner of the land wants to turn the land into a community of multimillion-dollar homes.
TPWD was informed that the park must be vacated by February 28.
Governor Greg Abbott said that he was working with TPWD to preserve the park on February 24, according to CBS News.
Texas Rep. Angelia Orr (R-Itasca) expressed outrage at the decommissioning of the park and has even submitted legislation that would essentially block the purchase of the land and allow the state to acquire the property through eminent domain.
Orr also has reached out for public support to maintain the park, advocating for a petition to keep the park open.
“Fairfield Lake Park is a valuable space for our community and all of Texas. I am doing my part to protect this park by filing HB 2332 to keep it open,” Orr tweeted.
Some citizens have expressed that, while they do not oppose development, they do wish to keep the park, according to NBC 5.
“It’s sad to see it go – not only for me but for my children and my grandchildren,” said resident Connie Gallegos Whitaker, according to NBC 5. “That’s where they learn what nature is about,” she continued.
A petition has also been set up, boasting 325 signatures at the time of publication.
“Fairfield Lake State Park is an extremely important ecosystem to the wildlife of Texas. The Park boasts over 250 different species of birds, river otters, waterfowl, deer, armadillos, and various other species,” said Melissa Friedrich, the organizer of the petition. “Destruction of these animal’s habitats is disgusting and a complete disregard for the protection of nature and wildlife,” she continued.
Friedrich also claimed that the sale and subsequent development of the land are illegal due to it being the habitat of bald eagles, which are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940.
This act, while protecting eagles as a species, also provides protections for eagle nesting spots, specifically against “human-induced alterations.” Penalties for violating the act will result in a fine of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations.
Efforts to preserve the park are ongoing.