Volunteers give area parks a makeover

Dozens of volunteers came out on a misty Saturday morning to donate sweat equity to Southeast Austin parks. They were part of It’s My Park Day, a citywide project coordinated by the nonprofit Austin Parks Foundation, which provided supplies and gave volunteers T-shirts, water, wildflower seeds and gift cards.

Thanks to all the volunteers who slogged through mud, removed trash and invasive plants, planted trees and made our parks a better place for people and wildlife! Here are the three parks near Burleson Heights that got makeovers on March 1.

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Heritage Oaks Park is named for the majestic live oak trees that cover this hillside pocket park on Parker Lane. In previous projects, the 400-year-old oaks at the top of the hill had been aerated and mulched with compost to help them survive drought conditions. On Saturday, several 100-year-old oaks lower on the slope got their own blanket of mulch.

In less than four hours, nine volunteers spread 10 cubic yards under the trees, said event organizer Helen Fleming. The oaks do not get any surface irrigation, but have access to water from a spring that feeds a pond and a branch of Harper’s Creek.

The pond is fenced to preserve habitat for foxes, swans, migratory birds, turtles, frogs, toads and other wildlife in the urban oasis. The site has also been selected for the city’s first pond project under the Grow Zone initiative, which will restore the natural plant community along the pond and creek, improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

One of the newest parks in Southeast Austin, the 3.5-acre park was once home to an estate and Colonial Revival mansion. Learn more about its history in this January 2012 Hurly-Burly post.

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Nestled on the western edge of the Burleson-Parker neighborhood, Mabel Davis Park is the site of a spring-fed pond that forms one of the headwaters of Country Club Creek. Thanks to neighbohood volunteers, the pond is now ringed by a trail named for Cecilia Crossley, a neighborhood resident and longtime political figure and environmental advocate.

During Saturday’s cleanup, about 40 volunteers filled 50 bags with trash, removed invasive trees, and planted a cypress tree on the shore. Several used canoes to reach the banks of the pond, where water bottles, styrofoam cups and other trash wash down from nearby Ben White Boulevard and other sources. Volunteers also removed several tires, a shopping cart, a mattress, furniture and other debris.

The cleanup was one of several organized by photographer and author Mathew Sturtevant, who has been working with his neighbors and Austin nonprofit groups for over two years to establish the trail around the pond. Sturtevant has also made a presentation to students at nearby Linder Elementary School about littering’s impact on wildlife habitat and water quality, and has worked with fellow residents and the Austin Police and Code Enforcement departments to keep homeless camps out of the 50-acre park’s wooded areas.

This is the third year that residents have participated in It’s My Park Day at Mabel Davis Park.

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About 35 volunteers came to Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park on Saturday to remove invasive bamboo and clean up trash along Country Club Creek.

Two crews worked throughout the morning, removing about 2,500 square feet of bamboo and filling 45 large bags with trash. They also cleaned up debris from two homeless camps that had been concealed along the creek and in a bamboo grove near the Krieg Softball Complex, said organizer Malcolm Yeatts of the Southeast Austin Trails and Greenways Alliance (SEATAG).

SEATAG has been creating a network of trails along Country Club Creek that will eventually reach from the Colorado River to Mabel Davis Park, and holds several park cleanups and trail-building sessions a year. Many of Saturday’s volunteers are participants in College Forward, a nonprofit mentoring program for high school and college students.

It’s My Park Day was the second cleanup so far this year at Guerrero Park, located on the south shore of the Colorado River, east of Pleasant Valley Road.

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About burlyheights

C. Forrest is a longtime resident of Burleson Heights.
This entry was posted in Parks and recreation, Safety, Volunteering, Water quality, Wildlife and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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