Texas Conservation Corps in Copper Lake State Park


The Trails Across Texas (TAT) crew rolled northward this hitch into the prairies and lakes region of Texas to Cooper Lake State Park. The park, a relatively recent addition to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department System, was officially opened on April 27, 1996. The 19,300 acre lake which gives the park its name was engineered by the Army Corps of Engineers for municipal water purposes. The lake also provides a number of recreational benefits including bass fishing, swimming, camping, and equestrian trails.

TxCC has been maintaining equestrian trails in the park for many years and this TAT crew now left its mark. The soil type in the park is highly erodible and the impacts of horse hooves and rain storms have battered the trails. The crew found itself boot deep in a mucky mess, tasked with the never-ending goal of erosion prevention. Over the span of eleven days, the crew worked hard to mitigate the forces of Texas nature via the implementation of 15 eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) check steps, 5 water bars, 1 cedar/post oak (Quercus stellata) turnpike, and the felling of numerous trail hazards- oaks affected by the drought-driven hypoxylon canker fungus. The check steps were placed in areas of serious erosion to build and maintain the soil level, water bars were placed on downhill runs to redirect fast-flowing water, and the turnpike was built in a washed out section of trail. The extensive amount of work was made possible by the crew’s hard work ethic, agreeable weather, and the hospitable staff.

Hitch highlights included the nightly chorus of coyotes and chorus frogs, eclectic campfire conversation, an excursion to the cowboy hat-donning Eiffel tower in Paris, TX, and our project partner’s annual pizza party. With stomachs overloaded with pizza, the TAT crew said goodbye to the beautiful, battered trails of Cooper Lake State Park and rolled back to Austin, TX.


Next Hitch: Cooper Lake State Park, part deaux.

David Brady, Crew Leader – Trails Across Texas


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