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A developer plans to turn this Texas state park into a golf course and gated community. Advocates want lawmakers to prevent that

Fairfield Lake State Park closed to the public on Feb. 28.

AUSTIN, Texas — Environmentalists gathered at the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday hoping to save a state park.

Advocates from Environment Texas and Sierra Club want lawmakers to protect Fairfield Lake State Park, even though it permanently closed to the public on Tuesday.

The state park is located about an hour and a half southeast of Dallas and is known as a popular bass fishing spot. Visitors also enjoyed swimming, kayaking and hiking. 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had been leasing the land from Vistra Energy for the past 50 years. Vistra recently sold all 5,000 plus acres to Dallas-area developer Todd Interests, which plans to build a golf course and a gated community on the property.

Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas, said he hopes lawmakers will step in and save the park.

"This is a real unfortunate situation, and this is a real important park, and to lose it forever to development would just be a shame. Especially, this year is the centennial of the state park system. And, you know, the good news is that legislators aren't taking this lying down for their bills already been filed to potentially, you know, force the developer to sell the land under eminent domain," Metzger said. "There's other obvious options. The state could reject a permit that would allow the company to sell the water from the lake to Dallas-Fort Worth. They could deprive the development of roads and water and wastewater infrastructure. So the state still has significant leverage here."

KVUE reached out to Vistra Energy about the park closure. A spokesperson sent a statement that reads in part: 

"We are proud to have made this privately-owned land available to generations of Texans for the past 50 years – more than 25 years beyond the original lease and at no cost to the State.  

In 2018, the Big Brown Power Plant, which sits on the remainder of our property and used the reservoir for cooling, ceased operations. At that time, we informed TPWD that we intended to sell the entire property and encouraged them to submit a bid. In 2021, we publicly marketed the property. We entered into a contract in early spring of 2022 with a potential buyer, and we honor our contracts and our commitments.

 As of Monday, Feb. 13, we have reached a point in the sales process where Texas Parks and Wildlife has been given a 120-day notification of lease termination, per the current lease terms. Any possible arrangements for the property to serve as a public park in the future will need to be decided between the buyer and TPWD."

KVUE also reached out to Todd Interests, but we have not heard back.

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