Save Barton Creek Association is currently working with the City of Austin’s Wildlands Conservation Division to build a new trail and entrance to the Barton Creek Greenbelt/Violet Crown Trail. This proposed new trail would begin at the end of West Gate Blvd in South Austin, on land that is currently closed to visitors. We are currently in the planning and early fundraising stage of the project. To donate, please visit our donations page.
Q: Why this property, and what are you planning to do?
The Shudde Fath Tract was acquired by bond money approved by voters in 1998. It was renamed for Austin activist and centenarian Shudde Fath in 2005. The land borders the Barton Creek Greenbelt and is now being managed as Water Quality Protection Land by the City of Austin’s Wildlands Conservation Division. The purpose of the tract is to protect water quality and quantity, but unfortunately there have been problems of illegal dumping, trespassing, and trash buildup from the highway onto the property. Save Barton Creek Association is working with the City of Austin and many other stakeholders to see a trail on the property opened to the public for the purpose of recreation and education. We are working with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to connect our proposed trail to the existing Barton Creek Greenbelt and Violet Crown Trail.
Q: Who is Shudde Fath, and why is the tract named after her?
Shudde Fath is an amazing woman who celebrated her 100th birthday this January. Her long history of advocacy is well-known in Austin and she continues to serve on the city’s Electric Utility Commission. Shudde also served as the Treasurer for SBCA for 29 years.
Q: What are some of the benefits to having Shudde’s Tract opened to the public?
As we create a new trail on the property, we plan to have volunteers close unsustainable “social trails” that have been created on the property over the years. This will help to protect water quality in Barton Creek and Barton Springs. We also believe that cultivating stewardship of the land is important to its preservation. With an engaged user and volunteer group, we think the property will improve from a conservation standpoint. As an educational resource, the land has potential to reach young people in Austin and give them insight into the history of preservation and conservation. The proposed trailhead is also accessible by public transportation, so we can encourage more users to utilize alternative transit when coming to Barton Creek.
Q: Has this kind of project been tried before?
Yes, the Slaughter Creek Trail and parts of the Violet Crown Trail are built on Water Quality Protection Lands. We are working with some of the same stakeholders to help design and construct Shudde’s trail and will be entering into a signed agreement with the City of Austin that determines our roles in the project. In 2003, the city drafted a conceptual plan for public access for the property, and we’re planning to follow the recommendations in that document.
Q: Where are you in the process?
We’re in the planning and early fundraising stage now. We are hoping to apply for a Neighborhood Partnering Program grant in June.
Q: What are some of the things you’re doing now to prepare?
We are going out to the property with volunteers, cleaning up trash and debris, and hiking the area to determine trail design needs. We’re working with SWA Landscape Architects and Wang Architects in Georgetown, TX to envision a trailhead and educational materials along the trail. They have been kind enough to do this work pro-bono for us.
Q: Why is this project important to SBCA?
This project really hits on all three efforts highlighted in our mission. With an active volunteer and user group, the land will be better able to support water quality and quantity. As an educational resource, the trail has the potential to reach students across Austin, and these educational resources can tell the important story of environmental advocacy that’s helped to protect these lands for future generations.
Q: Who are the partners and supporters in this effort?
We’re lucky to have an engaged group of stakeholders and partners in the project. The City of Austin Wildlands Conservation Division of Austin Water, the Public Works Department, Parks and Recreation have been incredibly helpful and supportive along the way. We are also working with the Barton View Neighborhood Association. The Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Biking ClubSWA Landscape Architects and Wang Architects in Georgetown are currently supporting our planning and design efforts.
Q: How can the community help?
The community can help by donating to support the project, or by volunteering at an upcoming event. We are also looking for business sponsors. For sponsorship information, please email us at SBCA@savebartoncreek.org.