On Wednesday The Texas Attorney General announced a $20 million settlement has been reached between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Asplundh Tree Expert LLC stemming from the most economical destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
The fire started on September 4, 2011, and burned 96% of Bastrop County State Park. The blaze burned 34,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,600 homes, and left two people dead.
The state accused Asplundh Tree Expert Co. of being negligent in maintaining the vegetation growth around Bluebonnet Electric power lines that it was contracted to keep clear. Under extreme drought conditions, dry vegetation accumulated around Bluebonnet’s easements, and when trees fell on power lines the fires ignited.
Asplundh, in the settlement, denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the Parks and Wildlife Department $20 million to help the park recover from the wildfire.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith said in a statement Wednesday that the settlement will go a long way to help recover the state park and its wildlife and plant communities.
“By investing in strategic land acquisition and restoration around the park, this will benefit people and wildlife for decades to come,” he said. “We all owe a debt of thanks to the state Office of the Attorney General for diligent assistance with this case.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton said the settlement marks a monumental step in the park’s continued restoration and the community’s healing.