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Neighbors save 11 acres from apartment growth, create a public nature park

January 27, 2022

As Texas’s inhabitants soars, many communities are feeling the rising pains of fast growth. Right here in booming Austin that manifests as condos, condos, condos and site visitors, site visitors, site visitors. However smaller cities additionally really feel the pinch, not least by way of misplaced inexperienced area.

In Horseshoe Bay, a lake-resort city within the Hill Nation west of Austin, one neighborhood not too long ago banded collectively to maintain 11 acres of native grasses, stay oaks, and junipers from being paved over for condos. Because of benefactors John and Sandra Smith, who donated using the land, and companies that discounted their providers, in addition to vital neighborhood fundraising, Horseshoe Bay West neighbors preserved the land as a nature park — one which’s open to the general public, not simply neighborhood residents.

I drove out to Horseshoe Bay Nature Park per week in the past to stroll the path. I additionally spoke with Sarah Yant, principal of Twistleaf, who led the design growth and development of Part 1 of the park.

A half-mile loop path winds by the park’s prairie grassland and woodland.

Sarah says the park is a naturalist’s dream. The park options 8 distinct ecological zones with totally different crops, topography, and wildlife habitat.

Birding is inspired with a hen blind overlooking a pond, nesting bins for bluebirds and screech owls, chimney swift roosting towers, and a rainwater-collecting wildlife watering station. Birds which have been noticed on the park embrace painted buntings, black-bellied whistling geese, Bell’s vireos, summer season tanagers, and vermilion flycatchers.

In late January, the native grasses bend and swirl in winter hues of russet and tan. Dwell oaks and junipers (aka cedars) stay olive inexperienced by winter, whereas deciduous timber like cedar elm elevate naked branches to the sky.

Cool climate, light-catching grasses, and cloudless blue skies make winter my favourite climbing season in Texas.

Sarah says environmental planner Elizabeth McGreevy‘s work was key to growing the property as a nature park: “[Her] ecological web site evaluation unearthed the park’s true character, revealing its distinct ecozones and distinctive qualities. Elizabeth crafted a plan to protect and keep the park’s vitality whereas serving each the wants of the neighborhood and the ecosystem.”

Granite outcropping, and an statement pavilion on the high of the hill

Close to the car parking zone we stopped to take a look at an analemmatic sundial put in by a Boy Scout Troop. I’d by no means seen one earlier than, and naturally I needed to strive it out by standing in the fitting spot and seeing if my shadow pointed to the right time. It was fairly shut.

Twistleaf additionally labored on the design of the park’s web site, which is informative and fascinating. Sarah encourages mother and father and grandparents to take a look at the youngsters’ web page, which accommodates actions to encourage younger birders, artists, and explorers. It additionally recommends age-appropriate books about nature.

Horseshoe Bay Nature Park is positioned at 1514 Golden Nugget in Horseshoe Bay. Admission to the park is free, and it’s open from dawn to sundown. Facilities embrace a small car parking zone, porta-potty, water fountain, and benches alongside the path.

Kudos to the neighborhood and those that donated to convey the dream of a park to fruition, preserving inexperienced area for wildlife and for the general public. Could their instance encourage others.

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