A Note from Nature in the City:
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by Kathleen Zarsky, Biomimicry Specialist, LEEDÂ®AP, BD+C Systems Director, HOLOS
Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact known as civilizationâ€¦the shallowminded modern who has lost his rootage to the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important. ~Professor Aldo Leopold, 1948
Nature in spring in Austin is the perfect time to contemplate our natural environment. All of our senses are stimulated with everything from bursts of colors, fragrant blossoms, bird song, variable weather and temperature, and longer days to soak it all in. The rhythms of life seem amplified in spring, as natureâ€™s adornments revive our souls. For a brief while, we feel childlike abandon in our awe of natureâ€™s beauty and processes.
Have you wondered why over a 13 year period Lake Austin would get choked with mats of the invasive exotic plant, hydrilla, yet Lady Bird Lake, just downstream, never experienced a hydrilla take-over? Instead, what we've witnessed in Lady Bird Lake over the past five years is the growth of the native plant cabomba, notably between MoPac and the 1st St. Bridge.
Watershed Protection scientists wondered:
Why doesnâ€™t hydrilla grow in Lady Bird Lake?
If Lady Bird Lake isnâ€™t a good place for aquatic plants to grow then how can cabomba grow there?
Can we improve Lake Austin habitat by growing cabomba in it?
In an effort to answer these questions, scientists created a â€œmicrocosmâ€ (mini lake ecosystem) study by putting sediments and water from Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake into buckets, planting either hydrilla or cabomba in these â€œmini-ecosystemsâ€, and measuring plant growth for three months.
Sign up to help clean, beautify, and restore at one of the 130+ sites across Austin! You can register as an individual or a group â€“ businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, and neighborhood associations welcome. Join KAB and your fellow volunteers after your cleanup for a not-to-be-missed volunteer party featuring free t-shirts, lunch, live music, environmental activities, a unique object contest, door prizes, and at 1PM a Fusebox Festival The Biodiversity of Texas show by Animal Facts Club - our way of saying thank you for beautifying our city!
Saturday, April 9th
Service Projects | 9:00 am - 11:00 pm | Locations Around Austin
Volunteer Party | 11:00 am - 1:30 pm | Register for Location Info!
The first report in a four-part CodeNEXT Code Prescription series, "The Next Austin: Manage our growth, keep our character", details strategies to preserve, protect and enhance the Cityâ€™s natural and built environment. Specific topics include tree protection, open space, responsible use of water resources, water quality and stormwater management, flood mitigation, compatibility and transitions between different types of land uses, design for mobility, redevelopment, greenfield development, and parks and open space. Discuss it online at SpeakUp Austin!, and join the CodeNext Community Walk where the CodeNext team will explain what would be possible with a new code through on the ground examples.
Festival Beach Food Forest Spring Feast | Eat, Drink, and Be Inspired
Join Festival Beach Food Forest in celebrating their second annual Spring Feast! This family-friendly event offers fun for all. Throughout the evening there will be great bands, plant-inspired activities, dancing, great food and drink, food forest Q&A, and bonfires.
Shoal Creek Forums | Erosion and the Workings of a Creek
When is erosion bad, and when is it just part of the natural workings of a creek? Learn more about how creeks functions and strategies to address erosion problems. The Shoal Creek Forum is a new series of 1-hour lunchtime meetings hosted by the Shoal Creek Conservancy to discuss critical creek issues with subject experts and the community. Future Forum topics include water quality, erosion, spring flow and other creek-related issues. Learn more about forum events at shoalcreekconservancy.org/events.
Food Gardenersâ€”Whatâ€™s in your soil? Find out with free testing! The Soil Kitchen is a four-day opportunity for backyard food gardeners to receive free soil testing. Soil brought to the kitchen will be screened for heavy metals and tested for soil nutrients. Soil from your backyard, schools and community gardens are all eligible and the results will help growers safely and effectively start or continue gardening.
The Nature Collectors | New Lands, New Nature,
& Ecological Imperialism
The Discovery of Nature | Over the next six lectures, Kevin will explore how Alexander Von Humboldt transformed the practice of natural history and collecting nature into the science of nature. He examine how he balanced imagination with scientific exactitude, thereby inspiring both poets and scientists to study nature in the 19th century. In particular, his influence on Darwin was profound both in setting Darwinâ€™s life course and in fostering his idea of evolution. As the 19th century ended, new sciences of nature emerged, and Von Humboldtâ€™s ideas continued to influence 20th century science and culture.
Kent Butler has been described as a visionary and â€œthe best friend the Barton Springs Aquifer ever hadâ€. Kent died in a tragic accident while hiking in Yosemite National Park on Friday, May 13, 2011. This summit is dedicated to his memory. The 2016 Summit will focus on the Hill Country Design Studio. #KentButlerSummit
The Shoal Creek Forum is a new series of 1-hour lunchtime meetings hosted by the Shoal Creek Conservancy to discuss critical creek issues with subject experts and the community. Future Forum topics include water quality, erosion, spring flow and other creek-related issues. Learn more about forum events at shoalcreekconservancy.org/events. The springs and seeps along Shoal Creek provide clean water and habitat for wildlife, including endangered salamanders. Learn more about the creek's springs, and what further research could uncover.
Join TreeFolks for one of their free tree ID or mapping walks to take your tree knowledge to the next level, connect with other tree fans, and explore Austinâ€™s green spaces! Their new tree mapping walks combine tree identification with grassroots tree surveying to map and promote Austinâ€™s trees on the TreeFolks Austin Tree Map, their new, free, collaborative, community tree mapping project.
The City of Austin's Urban Forest Grant Program, established to promote tree conservation and other projects that benefit Austin's urban forest, has funding available to help preserve and grow Austin's canopy of trees. Projects eligible for funding include tree planting and preservation, education, public service announcements, disease control, and management of invasive species.
Gather your shovels and gloves and get ready to load up on free wood mulch, courtesy of Austin Resource Recovery. Available to community members and residents*, this wood mulch is made from the yard trimmings collect curbside and is ready for use.
Now is the time to prepare for Austinâ€™s long hot summer. By using a combination of mulch, compost and core aeration, your lawn will be ready for the long periods without rain we get in Central Texas. These techniques will ensure that water stays on your yard, reducing the need for supplemental irrigation.
Homeowners and schools may receive up to $500 ($0.30/sq. foot -- 100 sq. foot min.) for installing landscape features such as berms, terraces, swales, rain gardens, porous pavement, and infiltration trenches that direct and retain rainwater on the property.
Rebates of $0.50 per gallon (non-pressurized) and $1.00 per gallon (pressurized) are available to customers of Austin Water or a qualifying water provider for installing rainwater harvesting systems. The maximum lifetime rebate amount is $5,000, not to exceed 50 percent of the project cost.
Austinites can earn a $75 rebate on a home composting system through the City of Austin Home Composting Rebate Program. To qualify, attend a free composting class in the community or watch a class online. Then apply!
Urban trees decrease energy bills for residents, reduce maintenance costs for streets and storm water infrastructure, increase property values by making neighborhoods more beautiful, walkable, and desirable places to live, and combat the urban heat island effect. NeighborWoods has distributed over 43,000 trees since 2002 and conserved an estimated 5 million kilowatts-hour of energy!