I wanted to confirm that we will be working at both the Gus Fruh trail area and the Homedale trail area this coming Saturday, which is National Public Lands Day. We’re part of a much larger effort being organized through the Austin Parks Foundation to do work at the Homedale and Spyglass areas, and along the main trail from Spyglass entry upstream to the Gus Fruh trail. A lot of the emphasis will be on invasives removal, now that the nesting birds have completed their mission. At Gus Fruh, the rock wall work will also continue. We will also do some minor trail repairs and clean-up.

In preparation for this work day, John Cook, PARD’s Barton Creek Greenbelt manager, met with a fire safety expert to get advice on how to best safely manage our work during this severe drought with accentuated fire hazards. Many trees are desiccated and dying from lack of water. John asked about the safety of our practice of creating windrows to deal with the large amounts of biomass produced by cutting down the large invasive trees. The advisor said that as long as the windrows are packed tight, close to the ground, and with minimal air flow potential, they are a practical and safe solution. He said it is safer to cut them down than to leave them standing with their dried leaves, which can act a bit like roman candles, sending the flames upward into the canopies. In working with smaller stems, limbs, and canes, he advised defoliating them and splitting the forks, and scattering them about on the ground to decompose rapidly. Where we can do so, he supported our efforts to chip the trunks and large limbs into mulch and spread it near the cleared area. It was reassuring to hear his positive assessment of our practices.

For this work day, we will have help from E-Corps and some of our experienced volunteers in using chainsaws to remove large invasive trees, and we will have volunteers working alongside them to immediately form tight windrows. We will also be hauling some of the large trunks and dried wood to the main trail near Spyglass to stockpile for chipping later next week. The chipped wood/mulch will decompose more rapidly and when it is spread, will help hold moisture in the soil (whenever we get it!) and reduce soil temperatures.

In the spirit of fire preparedness, we would like to invite our neighbors who back up to or live near the greenbelt to work in their own backyards or adjacent greenbelt areas this Saturday to clear out deadwood and reduce the risk of fire. The City picks up yard waste every week if it is left at the curbside, either in tied bundles or in trash cans. If you RSVP here, we will add you to our workday list and you can sign in at the Gus Fruh trail entry between 8:30 and 9:00, enjoy a breakfast taco and the group camaraderie, then return to your yard to do your own clearing work. If you need to borrow some tools, let us know right away, so we can have them available for you at the trailhead.

REGISTER for National Public Lands Day projects at the Barton Creek Greenbelt

We’re looking forward to another good work day, and thank you for your support!

Glee Ingram
Greenbelt Guardians Coordinator
(512) 443-7522