The University of Texas Environmental Science Park, located in the Smithville-Bastrop area, was established to study human interaction with the environment. The park is composed of two parts off State Highway 21-the Camp Swift Division, an animal study area, and the Buescher Division, an ecology study area adjacent to Buescher State Park. The idea for this type of natural study area originated in the mid-1960s with Dr. R. Lee Clark of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute (now the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center) and interested persons in Smithville. A legislative bill to activate the park was signed in April 1971, and $100,000 for the planning stage of the park was allocated. The bill gave administration of the park to M. D. Anderson Hospital and permitted the hospital to receive gifts and grants from outside sources. The Buescher Division, including more than 700 acres of almost pristine forest land, was to be used in studies of natural flora and fauna, the effect of humans on them, and problems of health and disease. A human impact study on the ecologic effect of human use of land was made, comparing the effects of the 500,000 visitors in 1971 in Bastrop State Park to the effects of visitors on adjacent Buescher State Park, which received about one-fourth that number of visitors. The Camp Swift Division was planned for veterinary resources and animal studies, including the raising of specific animals for experimentation. The potential uses for both divisions were myriad, and laboratories for health research, a library, and facilities for conferences and seminars were planned, as well as public environmental education for tourists visiting the parks. In October 1972 the environmental science park became a part of the University of Texas System Cancer Center. The park remained divided into two divisions, the Carcinogenesis Research Laboratories Division in Buescher State Park and the Veterinary Resources Division near Camp Swift. The goals of the science park focused on research in carcinogenesis, ecology, animal production, and education. Construction began on new research facilities for the study of environmental carcinogens in 1976 and was completed in September 1977. The buildings included the Jesse H. Jones Research Laboratory, a second research lab, a conference center, and a supervisor's residence. In 1983 the science park began a three-year $933,000 research project studying chimpanzees injected with the AIDS virus. The Ralph Meadows Research Building, which housed laboratories, offices, and a library, was completed by February 1992.
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Texas Times, December 1971. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“University of Texas Environmental Science Park,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 26, 2019