FT 18 - Ecology & Conservation Of The Endangered Barton Springs Salamander & Swimming at Barton Springs Pool

Tuesday, August 9, 2011: 4:00 PM-8:30 PM
Trinity Street Lobby Field Trip Pick Up, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: J. Hayley Gillespie
The Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum) is a permanently aquatic endangered salamander endemic to four freshwater springs located in Zilker Park near downtown Austin, Texas, one of which is operated as a public spring-fed swimming pool. Participants will be introduced to the natural history, ecology, evolution and conservation issues for this species by (1) a self-guided tour of the City of Austin’s ‘SPLASH Into the Edwards Aquifer’ exhibit, an educational exhibit about environmental issues on the Edwards Aquifer (2) a City of Austin biologist-led tour of the four freshwater springs that are host to the only known populations of the Barton Springs Salamander in which participants will get to see wild salamanders in their natural habitat (3) swimming and/or snorkeling in Barton Springs Pool. Swimming is weather permitting. Tour of Upper Barton Spring is dependent upon adequate spring flow – this site often goes dry in the summer. Barton Springs Pool is open until 10pm, and it is a popular Austin tradition to go night swimming. We will be there 5 days before the full moon so there should be plenty of waxing gibbous moonlight to swim by if you’d like to stay longer and arrange your own transportation back to the Convention Center or your hotel. Return on your own on Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 9pm for the great Austin tradition “Howl at the Moon” full moon swim party at Barton Springs: http://365thingsaustin.com/2010/08/24/236-full-moon-swim-at-barton-springs-pool/, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfUN5jf0xUw&feature=related City of Austin Barton Springs Salamander Site: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watershed/salamander.htm City of Austin’s SPLASH Into the Edward’s Aquifer Exhibit: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/splash/default.htm City of Austin Barton Springs Pool (Austin Parks & Recreation Aquatics site): http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/bartonsprings.htm City of Austin Zilker Park Map: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/zilker/zilkermap.htm

Registration Fee: $45

Equipment and Attire: Please bring a swimsuit & towel if you would like to swim at Barton Springs Pool and mask/snorkel if you like to snorkel. We will be walking approximately .3 miles/.5km upstream of Barton Springs Pool along a natural gravel and limestone path to visit Upper Barton Spring. From Upper Barton Spring we will walk approximately .68 miles/1.1km to Sunken Garden Spring. Tennis shoes or sport/aqua sandals are recommended for this part of the tour, the hike is not strenuous but is mostly unpaved and has some stairs, shoes may get wet! Austin summers are HOT, so bring a water bottle, sunscreen and breathable clothing! If you don’t wish to tour Upper and Sunken Garden, that’s OK, you can simply pay your admission and start swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

Itinerary: 4pm depart Convention Center by bus 4:15 Arrive at Barton Springs Pool, begin self-guided tour of SPLASH exhibit before it closes [splash is usually closed on Mondays, so have a call in to see if we can arrange a special group tour that day. If not, we can skip the SPLASH exhibit or move the field trip to Tuesday] 5:00 Tour of Eliza and BSS history/ecology/conservation by Laurie & Hayley 5:45-6:15 depart Eliza to tour Upper Spring (approximately .3 miles/.5km trail walk). 6:15-7:00 depart Upper to tour SG (approximately .68 miles/1.1km trail walk). 7:00pm arrive at Barton Springs Pool near diving board, discuss Barton Springs Salamander ecology at this site. 7:00-8:30 swimming/snorkeling (sunset is at 8:19pm) 8:30pm those who wish to leave take bus back to Convention Center, those that want to stay longer arrange own transport back to their respective hotels, the pool is open until 10pm.

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.