FT 12 - CANCELLED  Community engagement and watershed management in the Cypress Creek

Sunday, August 7, 2011: 8:00 AM-1:30 PM
Trinity Street Lobby Field Trip Pick Up, Austin Convention Center
Organizers: Vicente L. Lopes and Adrian L. Vogl
The Cypress Creek, located in the Hill Country of central Texas, has historically been a spring-fed stream with cold, clear waters, abundant aquatic life, and a popular recreational area. The heart of the Cypress Creek is Jacob’s Well spring, an artesian spring from the Trinity Aquifer which provides the majority of baseflow to the creek. However the spring is threatened by increasing pressures on local groundwater resources that are shifting the spring and the creek. In addition the creek’s watershed is becoming increasingly urbanized as its proximity to major urban centers (Austin, New Braunfels, San Antonio) draws families and retirees who wish to own a piece of the beautiful Hill Country. These multiple pressures have resulted in increasing impacts on the ecological integrity of the creek and the surrounding watershed. Local stakeholders have become increasingly concerned about these impacts on water quality and quantity, but also on the impacts that such degradation may have on local businesses and property values which are highly dependent on the health and beauty of the creek. The stakeholder initiative in this area is unique in that it has a scope and breadth of involvement beyond typical conservation interests, as well as financial backing from the US EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality which is typically reserved for restoring highly impaired water bodies rather than for proactive watershed protection. In this field trip we will tour the beautiful and varied landscapes of the Cypress Creek watershed, showcasing some of the unique features of the area as well as some of the greatest threats to its future. We will begin with a visit to Jacob’s Well spring where local scientists and volunteers will provide background on stakeholder initiatives in the watershed as well as the unique hydrogeology and ecology of this sensitive area. Next we will visit the upland areas of the watershed where the creek is normally dry, but where the area provides valuable wildlife habitat, water quality protection, and recharge to the underlying aquifer. We will conclude the tour with a visit to the lower, perennial portions downstream from Jacob’s Well spring, which provides a sharp contrast between the cool, clear waters of the creek and impending urban development in close proximity to this sensitive resource. At the end of the tour, a picnic lunch under the shade of cypress trees will be provided along the banks of the Cypress Creek.

Registration Fee: $63

Equipment and Attire: Hiking clothes, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, water, hat.

Itinerary: We will leave from Austin at 8am to Wimberly and will return to Austin by 1:30p.

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.