Annual Membership Gala



SBCA needs funding to keep our education and advocacy efforts going in 2018.  Please take this opportunity to renew your SBCA membership via our website, our mailing address (PO Box 5923, Austin, TX 78763) or at the party.

Thank you for your continued support; we hope to see you at our party!

SBCA Board of Directors



2017 Annual Membership Gala


On November 20th, Save Barton Creek Association hosted our annual membership gala, an Austin environmental tradition. As usual, the iconic Bill Oliver played during happy hour on the patio of the Zilker Clubhouse. Guests wined and dined amid a spectacular view of the Austin skyline. SBCA was proud to announce the new board of our organization, summarize our accomplishments of this past year, and give awards to outstanding members of our community.


Among our successes this year, we’re proud to note:


Thank you to all the businesses that helped make this night a success: Salt Lick BBQ, Oskar Blues Brewery, Trader Joe’s, Valley Mills Vineyards, Shady Grove, Hiatus Spa + Retreat, and Zero Gravity Institute.



2017 Awardees


Ted Siff, Lifetime Achievement in Conservation

Ted has organized a broad coalition in favor of open space/parks in the upcoming City and County bond elections.  Ted also headed a Trust for Public Lands effort in 1992 which successfully purchased the Barton Creek Wilderness Park. This helped lead to other, later, successful conservation land purchase programs. Ted currently serves as board president for the Shoal Creek Conservancy, which is currently undergoing a major trail expansion project on the Shoal Creek Trail.


Rene Barrera, Austin Land Steward

Rene was recognized for his career of dedication to Austin’s preserves. Clark Hancock, SBCA Board President and a long-time City of Austin employee, presented the award and spoke of his time working closely with Rene at the City. He recalled how Rene started as a volunteer working on … and quickly rose to manage all of Austin’s preserves. SBCA also acknowledged Rene for his work with their organization on a grant project, which focused on improving the interpretive signage at Goat Cave Karst Preserve. This recently completed project includes a new kiosk, signs at cave features, and benches, improving the preserve as a resource for citizens to learn more about the aquifer.


Rich DePalma, Environmental Policy Advocacy

Rich DePalma is Mayor Adler’s appointment to the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Board where he serves as Vice-Chair, is Board President of TreeFolks, and Vice-President of Austin Environmental Democrats. For the last decade he has advanced or led hydrology, energy conservation and renewable energy projects, but the last couple of years he has been particularly busy in protecting and enhancing our environment.

This past summer he worked with the TreeFolks board and staff to advocate against the Texas Legislature’s anti-tree bills during the special session. This year he has led the Parks Board efforts to protect accessibility to parkland under CodeNext. Right now, he is working with Trustee Anderson and stakeholders in preserving land in the Blunn Creek Headwaters. This involves coordinating with TxDOT to protect and plant more trees, and working on a large tree initiative that will be announced in early 2018.


Robin Gary, Exemplary Educator on the Barton Springs Edward’s Aquifer

Robin Havens Gary is the Senior Public Information and Education Coordinator for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. She leads the District’s public and youth education programs, including the annual “Groundwater to the Gulf” hands-on summer institute for teachers, the Groundwater Stewardship Awards, and the complimentary water-quality testing of individually owned drinking water wells.  She has been leading the district in innovate education, including her latest achievement is the development of an interactive augmented reality card game, tentatively called “Clear Creek Critters” that will aid the identification of benthic macroinvertebrates that are indicators of water quality.

Past Winners



Karen Kocher of Living Springs

Texas River School (learn more)

Protect Our Water (learn more)

Plantiffs of the SH45 Case (learn more)





Dorothy Richter: Dorothy joined us in those first days, and spent years serving on the SBCA Board. She was always a strong and stalwart Save Barton Creek voice in the halls of local government when the issues have demanded it. A daily swimmer, Dorothy has also stood for the integrity of the Springs and the pool by serving on the Parks Department’s Aquatics Committee. She’s famous, too, (famously with swimmer and friend Dr. Agnes Edwards) for protecting and insisting on respect and care for the health and wellbeing of the ducks, geese and swans that are an integral part of the Creek and River environment. Pragmatic, determined – as any number of people who have disagreed with her on an issue will tell you – it’s also true she “has a heart as big as Texas.”

Dorothy respects and values our environment, and expects the rest of us to do the same. She’s done so much more of course, as her environmental advocacy isn’t only local. In fact, the reason Texas State facilities now protect the rights of non-smokers is Dorothy.

There’s good reason she’s affectionately known as the Mayor of Hyde Park, and good reason she was appointed to and served on Austin’s Board of Adjustment for many years. These and many other achievements are why, as our nomination, she was inducted as the tenth to be honored in the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame and now Save Barton Creek Association’s Hall of Fame.


Phyllis Brinkley: A swimmer, public school teacher, environmentalist and politically aware environmentalist, it was natural for Phyllis to be a part of organizing for Barton Creek and Barton Springs protection. She served on our board of directors, and on the City of Austin’s Environmental Board. She was a Charter Member of Save Austin’s Neighborhoods and Environment (SANE), the PAC for our issues after the Zilker Park Posse.

Phyllis has always been a proactive force, delighting in welcoming all into the ‘family.’ She has always been a no-nonsense voice for common sense direction like environmental protection policies and ordinances for the City.

She believes in the promise our children hold for the future and she believes in the promise we as environmentalists must make to them. Phyllis willingly embraced the responsibility to work for a better world to offer our future generations.

As with virtually every Austin environmental activist, she was never ‘single-issue,’ but instead was heavily involved with the health and well being of her own Allandale Neighborhood among other issues. When we see the big red and white candy canes in Allandale’s front yards at Christmas, watch Allandale’s annual Fourth of July parade, we think of and celebrate Phyllis, a good friend to this Earth and a good friend to all of us.


Shudde Fath: Speaking of environmentalists not being ‘single issue’, Shudde is the epitome of effective advocacy, not only for the Creek and Springs, not only for energy issues – as she’s served on Austin’s Electric Utility Commission since its creation, but for fairness and equity.

Of the only ten women to be honored by induction to the Austin Women Hall of Fame, SBCA claims two of them. Shudde Fath was inducted in 2012 and has earned her place there.

Her educational and professional credentials made her the logical choice for SBCA’s treasurer, and she held that officer position for 29 years. As with the other honored women in our 2014 Hall of Fame, Shudde stepped up to testify on environmental issues time after time when what was happening in Austin demanded it – (and in the eighties/early nineties it was demanded a lot). Shudde has always offered common sense advocacy to the City Council and Commissioners’ Court. Essentially, ‘when it’s destructive, just don’t do it’.

Shudde has always given testimony on issues with a smile and good nature, but if those in power seem not to listen, you can expect her to follow up with a letter to the editor or a larger guest op/ed piece = with facts and figures.

Always a work horse and generous, she’s always provided strong personal support for many environmental endeavors, including her family foundation’s donation to the Violet Crown Trail development.

In the prelude to November’s 10-1 election, Shudde gave her time and effort to help candidates for City Council understand some of the basic and critical issues involved with Austin Energy oversight.

A few years ago, when requested to speak to university grad students about her life and her activism, they asked her about why she did it.

Shudde’s response was, “You gotta give a damn about something …!” (paraphrasing ) “…and you have to do something about it.’ We honor Shudde for giving a damn about Barton Creek, Barton Springs, and so many other things… and for doing something about it!


George Cofer: Now the Executive Director of Hill Country Conservancy, George faithfully served SBCA as their sole staff member from the early 1990s until 2015. A lifetime Austin resident, George passionately stands for the conservation of land in Central Texas, both through the purchase of easements and partnerships with city government. Today with George’s guidance, Hill Country Conservancy is working tirelessly to build a 30-mile regional trail system dubbed the Violet Crown. A mentor and friend to many, George’s leadership stands out in the Austin environmental community and beyond.


Joe Riddell – Attorney, activist, Charter Member of SBCA, Zilker Park Posse, SANE, SOS steering Committee, Joe is a tireless hands-on educator/advocate and ‘ambassador’ in the field and in public testimony. Joe is a capable swimmer and paddler extraordinaire who knows Barton Creek like the back of his hand. Next time the creek is full, you just might spot Joe surfing a wave at Twin Falls!


Mayor Frank Cooksey – Attorney, activist, SBCA President and spokesperson, swimmer. Frank was the first person to run for Mayor of Austin as an environmentalist on issues of Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer, water quality and WIN ! Without the principles that he brought to the office, there would have been no progressive advances for watershed protection and water quality mitigation at that time, no land use master planning in the City Charter among other  other critical democratic processes.


Hon. Jack Goodman – Activist, community organizer, Zilker Park Posse, SBCA President, co-founder United South Austin (USA), Save Austin’s Neighborhood and Environment (SANE), Sierra Club, served on SCCOPE, Environmental Board Chair, SOS steering Committee, Colorado River Watch, and BSEACD.

As President and a spokesperson for SBCA he arguably spent more time organizing, testifying in Council Chambers, in Council offices, in meetings, scientific research, public information efforts, working on issue campaigns and others, than at home.


Bill Oliver – Musician and song writer, activist, SBCA, SANE, Mother Earth Festival at Zilker Park.  Bill’s songs have chronicled the environmental issues and political movement in Austin, from “Barton Springs Eternal” to “It’s Obama’s Fault!” Famous for his spirited and good natured musical testimony at public hearings, including at the PUD uprising hearing, Bill embodies the Austin essence that motivated our “Keep Austin Weird” reputation, as well as the “Live Music Capital of the World !”


Travis County Commissioner Ron Davis – Activist, SANE, SBCA. Ron waited through long hours with us to speak out against the Barton Creek PUD at that all day-all-night-next morning hearing; from SANE, he enlisted SBCA support and advocacy for the East Austin urban creek health and human health regarding imperative water quality regulations and long unaddressed erosion,  as well as uniting in the effort to move the East Austin Tank Farm … OUT. As a Travis County Commissioner, Ron was the only “No” vote for building SH 45 SW.


Senator Gonzalo Barrientos – After serving in the Texas House of Representatives, as Senator he carried the enabling legislation to create the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. Sen. Barrientos also famously filibustered both on SB 1029 (invalidating SOS via the 1st ‘grandfathering’) for 18 hours, and on HB 3193 (Circle C water district exemption from Austin water quality regulations) for 14 hours and 22  minutes. He used his power to initiate and implement McKinney Falls (Williamson/Onion Creek) clean up and reclamation.


Pam Thompson – Activist, Earth First!, SBCA, Community/Public Access producer of environmental documentaries and long running environmental issues talk show, nature photographer watchdogging. Pam has a long history of documenting  degradation and source/cause including development  projects’ noncompliance with water quality  regulations, and is always a presence in public testimony. She is a volunteer for whatever is  needed, whenever it’s needed!


Bill Bunch –  Attorney, activist, SBCA, SANE and a major motivator for SOS steering committee and subsequent Save Our Springs citizens’ initiative,  the effort that went back and fleshed out the basic good of the ‘interim ordinance’. Passionate and fiery in public testimony, business and development interests ‘chafing’ at environmental regulation focused on Bill with equal passion. For some, who didn’t seem to understand this was a community movement that had built up a critical mass of support and commitment, he was the lightening rod- “that radical lawyer from Berkley”.

After passage of SOS, as Director of Save Our Springs Alliance, Bill continues to fight environmental battles in the courts, losing some, winning some, but remains a solid resource throughout, from fighting TCEQ permits for direct effluent discharge into Aquifer creeks, to (with SBCA and other partners) Keep Mopac Local, in our decades long effort to preserve a regional water supply as higher priority than building SH 45 SW through critical and fragile water recharge zone.


Mayor Gus Garcia – Austin’s first Hispanic Mayor broke through several other glass ceilings before that. Gus was  the first Hispanic Council Member to unapologetically self identify and ally as an environmentalist. He was a member of “the Green Council” majority, a critical vote, an advocate, with a depth of understanding and clarity that conveyed both pragmatism and spirit to the public. Mayor Garcia’s reassurance of the legitimacy and common sense of environmental protection efforts broadened community awareness and interest – essentially breaking through even more ‘glass ceilings.’ He encouraged us not to see barriers, but issues that should unite.


Congressman Lloyd Doggett – Elected as Senator in the Texas legislature, then as a Justice of the Texas  Supreme Court, he was elected to represent us in Congress from the 10th, 25th, and now in the 35th Congressional District (no, he didn’t move and we didn’t move – only the district lines moved); With a perfect environmental  congressional voting record, Congressman Doggett is currently scored 100% by The League of Conservation Voters, and has a lifetime score of 100% from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.





Jeannie DeFrese (Zilker Neighborhood) Bluebonnet Hills re-subdivision

For tenacious dedication to stopping an administratively granted (illegal exemption to SOS regulations in development of a property in the recharge Zone.


Brandi Clark Burton (EcoAlliance) The Election Navigator

For creativity and technological problem solving to provide information on environmental positions and goals for 78 City Council candidates. The outcome was a virtual in depth forum compiling easy to access, easy to ‘slice and dice’ information sought for any given candidate.

In endorsing a Mayoral candidate, one former Mayor commented on the Navigator as the informational tool that enabled him to access information on each candidate, in making that decision. We also thank Brandi’s team for this huge task and valuable real-time documentation — an archive of environmental issues for this moment in our history.


Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force – Sharlene Leurig, Chair

The effort, and result, is a thorough, comprehensive map of what we must do for a sustainable water future and is a crucial undertaking for Austin. As changes in weather patterns, years of drought and projections of more climate changes loom, as we’re told we must build a city that accommodates ever-increasing population growth, our traditional paradigms of water resources and water utility practices are no longer viable.The task force looked at real and feasible ways to meet existing and future needs.

In giving the award to the Task Force Chair, Sharlene Leurig, we recognize her leadership in this effort, and in the broader context of the work she does in directing the Sustainable Water Resource Infrastructure Program at Ceres.

For 25 years Ceres has functioned as a national non-profit, working to integrate sustainability into the capital markets, preparing for the future. As with many other places in the world, for Austin that future is now.

We thank all the Task Force members with this award, and greatly appreciate the scope and importance of what you accomplished.


Sharlene Leurig

Kris Bailey

Tom Mason

Luke Metzger

Marisa Perales

Paul Robbins

Lauren Ross

Stefan Schuster

Brian Smith

Jennifer Walker