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Texas gives up effort to take over Fairfield Lake State Park using eminent domain

A picture of trees in Fairfield Lake State Park in the autumn, with multicolored leaves.
Texas Parks and Wildlife
Courtesy Photo
Fairfield Lake State Park is closing after being sold to a developer. One lawmaker hopes to change that with a bill that would use eminent domain to seize the property.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is ending a months-long effort to reclaim the property previously occupied by Fairfield Lake State Park using eminent domain.

Texas leased the 5,000-acre property in Freestone County at no cost for nearly 50 years until Dallas-based developer Todd Interests bought it in June for $103 million dollars with plans to build a luxury homes community and golf course.

The state tried to take back Fairfield through eminent domain, but that meant buying back the property at fair market value.

The state argued the value of the property was $85 million, but last month a judge-appointed commission of three Freestone County residents set that value at $418 million.

“TPWD recognizes the importance of conserving our state’s natural resources and providing recreational opportunities for Texans,” TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz said in a press release. “However, TPWD must also responsibly manage the state’s fiscal resources in order to maximize the benefit of our parks for all Texans. The citizens of Texas have always shown strong support for expanded access to state parks, and I believe there is a promising future for outdoor recreation in our great state.”

Todd Interests did not respond to an interview request from KERA News, but did provide a written statement to the Dallas Morning News.

“This monumental and historic victory belongs to the ranchers, farmers, landowners, and people of Freestone County,” Todd Interests founder and CEO Shawn Todd said in the statement. “It is a tribute to the undaunting courage of the elected Freestone County officials, who stood with unwavering resolve against former appointed TPWD leadership that enacted policy that was against not only the state legislature, but the inherent rights of all Texas property owners. The Todd Interests team could not have stayed in this fight without the firm commitment from our financial partners to fight this unprecedented action.”

Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

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Rebekah Morr is KERA's All Things Considered newscaster and producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.