TPL Donates Land to Expand Barton Creek Greenbelt (TX)

AUSTIN, Texas, 3/25/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is helping one of Austin’s most popular parks expand. The national land conservation nonprofit recently donated 14 acres of property to the City of Austin to expand the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a heavily wooded natural area with miles of hike-and-bike trails that attracts local hikers, bikers, runners and rock climbers.

Austin City Council Member Randi Shade, Austin Parks and Recreation (PARD) Director Sara L. Hensley, TPL Advisory Chair Larry Eisenberg, and 3M Government and Community Affairs Manager Russell Bridges commemorated the donation at an event today on a portion of the greenbelt that overlooks the new parkland.

TPL has helped shape the Barton Creek Greenbelt area for more than a decade. In the early 1990s, the organization acquired more than 800 acres of environmentally sensitive land that eventually became the Barton Creek Wilderness Park. TPL held the land in trust until the City of Austin purchased the property as part of a $20 million citizen approved bond initiative in 1992.

“The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the most well used and loved natural areas in the city, and without TPL’s help in the beginning it may never have been established,” said PARD Director Sara L. Hensley. “Today’s donation echoes TPL’s continued commitment to protecting and expanding Austin’s green space.”

Since the creation of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, TPL has donated several nearby parcels of land to incorporate into the parkland, including 44 acres in early 2007. Following the most recent 14-acre donation, TPL plans to continue to acquire nearby property that could be used to expand and connect the network of trails in the area, while ensuring public access to the land and protecting water quality.

“The Barton Creek Greenbelt is not only a beautiful and unique piece of property, but it’s also part of a watershed critical to the long-term health of our community and our economy” said Laura Sykes, project manager for TPL. “Conservation efforts like this aren’t possible without the kind of strong, collaborative partnerships we’ve formed with private landowners, public agencies like PARD and companies like 3M who were all committed to making today’s donation a reality for Austin.”

“On the council, we’re always looking for partnerships that allow the community to meet its goals while keeping in mind the demands on the public’s funds,” said Austin City Council Member Randi Shade. “Making the most of opportunities like this one is absolutely essential if we’re to keep moving forward as a city.”

3M donated $20,000 to help TPL acquire the new parkland.

“As Austinites we love our parks, and 3M is proud to help Austin maintain its special character through our support of this beautiful addition to the Barton Creek Greenbelt,” said 3M Government and Community Affairs Manager Russell Bridges. “Investing in access to natural areas such as this helps keep our community a great place to live, work and play.”

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than two million acres nationwide. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 32,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Denton, Houston, Corpus Christi and San Antonio. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations and foundations.

About the Austin Parks and Recreation Department
The purpose of the Parks and Recreation Department is to provide, protect and preserve a Park System that promotes recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences for the Austin community. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 16,682 acres of land containing 206 parks and 12 preserves. The department currently maintains more than 74 miles of hike-and-bike trails, 117 miles of lake patrol, 172 athletic fields and 90 playscapes. Other facilities include 17 recreation centers, three senior activity centers, one garden center, one nature and science center, one art center, two party houses, four museums, six amphitheaters, six golf courses, 108 tennis courts; 47 swimming pools and two beach-front facilities.