Guest post from Emerge Class of 2015 graduate Erin Bettison.
Erin is a Business Development Manager at The Beck Group.
This video on Conservation was prepared by a team who examined aspects of this issue in our community. Please take a minute to watch.
Last weekend I went for a run in Houston. It was a beautiful day on a concrete path by Buffalo Bayou. But for the entire run I couldn’t help comparing it to the trail around Lady Bird Lake in the heart of Austin. As a runner, I knew that I appreciated the trail and the Barton Creek Greenbelt, but until I was a part of the Conservation Engagement Team with the Leadership Austin Emerge 2015 class, I didn’t realize how lucky we are to be in a city that takes conservation seriously AND how important it is for us to stay involved in conservation issues to keep Austin the place that it is today.
Here are a couple of “Wow, I didn’t know that” points that came out of this conservation deep dive for me:
There’s an Austin non-profit dedicated to conservation
Looking for a non-profit to support or want to spend time with like-minded outdoor lovers? Check out the Hill Country Conservancy. The Hill Country Conservancy is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and open spaces of the Texas Hill Country. Did you know that 97% of Texas land is in private hands? This leaves conservationists concerned as family ranches traditionally held intact are being broken apart and distributed amongst their multiple descendants. If you know a land owner who has questions about how to conserve their land, put them in touch with the Hill Country Conservancy as a resource to see what their options are. The Hill Country Conservancy is also spearheading the Violet Crown Trail, a regional trail system that, once complete, will provide 30 miles of trail for hiking and biking from Barton Creek to Hays County. Six miles of the trail system are already finished. Learn more at hillcountryconservancy.org.
Austin parks are severely underfunded
Did you know that the last land purchase by the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department was made before the turn of the century? That land, the Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary, remains undeveloped to this day due to lack of funding and resources. Vote in support of park funding whenever it is on the ballot so we continue to have access to parks whether it be for a getaway from the office or a place to take your kids or pets.
Invoke the lollipop test when choosing a home
This fun exercise is courtesy of George Cofer, Executive Director of the Hill Country Conservancy. He stressed that every Austin-ite should be able to walk to a park or at least green space before they can finish eating a lollipop. Not only is this a good goal when choosing a place to live but it reinforces the need for us to support park spaces near neighborhoods. Get involved with your neighborhood social media groups to learn how to support the outdoor spaces close to your home or business. It can be as easy as participating in a park clean-up day so you have a nice place to walk to before that lollipop melts.
Many of us live in Austin because it’s an amazing city that blends an urban feel with an outdoor vibe. There aren’t that many cities in the country that have strong economies and a river with a hike and bike trail running through their downtown. As more and more people move here, I know that I am taking a personal responsibility to share the messages above so we continue conserving the natural spaces that make Austin great.
NOTE: The opinions of Leadership Austin alumni, faculty members, and guest bloggers are their own, and do not represent an official position of the organization.
Recruiting starts in May 2016