FT 15 - CANCELLED  At the Intersection of Rock, Water, Ecology and Society: The Water Quality Protection Lands

Sunday, August 7, 2011: 8:30 AM-4:45 PM
Trinity Street Lobby Field Trip Pick Up, Austin Convention Center
Organizers: Kevin Thuesen and Matt McCaw
Participants will visit parts of the City of Austin Water Quality Protection Lands (WQPL); roughly 26,000 acres south and west of Austin protected and managed to perpetuate the quality and quantity of water recharging the section of the Edwards Aquifer that discharges at Barton Springs near downtown Austin. The program uses many land conservation strategies such as conservation easements as well as ecological management techniques such as prescribed fire, native grass seeding, invasive species management and karst maintenance. The WQPL also conducts and collaborates on research designed to help land managers better understand and restore ecosystem function. Despite strong community support for the program’s conservation goals, efforts are complicated by rapid urbanization and demands for additional uses of these lands that may run counter to the original conservation mission. Attendees will learn about numerous conservation and restoration practices on the WQPL, some of the research and monitoring being conducted on-site, as well as the hydrogeological connections of these lands to Barton Springs itself. This promises to be an exciting trip where participants will get to experience the big picture at the ground level. WQPL website: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/water/wildland/

Registration Fee: $27

Equipment and Attire: Attendee equipment needs: hiking boots, appropriate clothing, sun screen, insect repellent, hat, water bottle. Be prepared for hiking in variable weather conditions (very hot and sunny to rain), challenging terrain with numerous tripping hazards and driving many miles off-road in some of the most rugged, sensitive and beautiful land in the Austin area.

Itinerary: Itinerary 8:00am Gather at ESA Conference Center 8:30am Leave for Onion Creek Management Unit 9:30am Arrive HWY 150 gate to Onion Creek Management Unit 10:00 -10:30am Visit Prairie Road area and discuss ecological restoration of prairie savanna, prescribed fire, native grass seeding, invasive species research, karst development from shallow sinkholes to developed sinkhole. 10:30 – 11:15am Visit Crippled Crawfish Cave complex (if wet) Crooked Oak complex (if dry) discuss dye trace results, Recharge Zone function, water quality vs. water quantity, drainage area for swallets. 11:30-12:00 noon Lunch/bathroom stop at Onion House. The history of the Onion Creek Mgmt Unit, from 101 Ranch to platted subdivision to conservation area. 12:00-2:00pm Travel across Little Bear and Lower Bear Creek Management Unit Savanna restoration research. Plans for Violet Crown trail. 2:00 – 3:00pm Visit Flint Ridge cave on the Upper Bear Creek Management Unit Infrastructure dissection of property, suburbanization, WUI, trail,highly sensitive site, internal drainage basin, conservation activities in such an area. 3:00 – 4:00pm Drive to top of Baker Mountain on Slaughter Creek Mgmt Unit Stakeholder process, trail development/management arrangement, encircled property, challenges of conservation activities. 4:00 – 4:30pm Arrive at Barton Springs, view the end of the dye trace and the exceptional natural feature that catalyzed the WQPL. 4:45pm Arrive at Austin Convention Center

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