A little bit of history:
The Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association and its members have actively been engaged in maintaining and improving the green spaces in our neighborhood since the 1970s. Within our boundaries, we have Nicholas Dawson, Mary Dawson and Ricky Guerrero parks, a few unnamed tiny parks along East Bouldin Creek and the West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt.
In April 2004, BCNA adopted at the following green space-related goals at its general association meeting:
• Maintain established parkland and green spaces
• Maintain as much wilderness area as possible
• Establish no new infrastructure other than improving hike and bike trails
• Establish/improve erosion control on both East and West Bouldin creeks
• Eradicate non-native species and replace them, if warranted, with native ones
• Maintain old growth tree canopy
• Establish a creek crossing at the South 6th Street entrance to the WBCGB.
In 2009, we began implementing a plan designed by the University of Texas’ Lady Johnson Bird Wildflower Center to restore the health and well-being of the West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, which had been suffering from neglect and was mainly used as a campground for homeless people. Our long-term vision for the greenbelt, which we shared with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) in our “Adopt-A-Park Agreement”, was to maintain the greenbelt as an “urban forest” with nature trails; a place where neighbors and other community members could take their children, watch birds, walk, hike or bike. We also wanted to restore the greenbelt vegetation as much as possible to native species only. Since we planned to use volunteer labor and had limited resources, we broke our plan down into several stages; estimating that it could take up to 10 years to implement completely. Six years into our plan, here are the original goals together with an update:
Phase I: Remove invasive species such as Ligustrum, Nandina and Chinaberry. Per the Wildflower Report’s recommendation, we planned to give the greenbelt 2-3 years’ time to see which native species will naturally grow from dormant seedlings.
Plan Update: We have made great progress on this goal: Ligustrum, Chinaberry and Nandina are much reduced and have made way for many thriving native seedlings. We are still battling Catsclaw, though; its eradication is extraordinarily labor intensive and will continue.
Phase II: Establishing a sustainable trail system in the greenbelt. A trail system already exists and needs to be evaluated for its sustainability and relevance. Some trails need to be widened to avoid coming in contact with the abundantly growing poison ivy, other “trails of desire” cause erosion and need to be eliminated.
Plan Update: This is our next step
Phase III: Enhance the 1200 South Sixth Street entrance. Build a low-water crossing; create a path leading up to and going past the creek that can be navigated by city vehicles which need access to the greenbelt, and can be used by visitors. Design and install signage that provides information about the greenbelt and identifies the trail system.
Plan Update: We are celebrating the completion of this goal, though we are still lacking adequate signage and need to plant native grasses and understory bushes such as Turks Cap and Beautyberry around the new plaza. The City no longer needs to access the greenbelt, so a drivable crossing has been eliminated.
Phase IV: Establish educational signage along the trails. Create signage that points to native species or to habitat of greenbelt wildlife.
Plan Update: This is still on our list, to be addressed after the trail system has been completed.
Phase V: Connectivity to South Lamar Blvd. at the south end of the greenbelt and to Barton Springs Road and Butler Park at the north end. We understand that this phase depends on PARD planning of green spaces and future land acquisitions; we will not be able to implement this step, but we have let PARD know of our desire for such a solution.
Plan Update: The Zilker Neighborhood Association expressed the same goals for connectivity and we are looking forward to collaborating with them.