A new group of park and greenbelt advocates has formed the Shoal Creek Conservancy to help maintain and improve a creek known more for floods than fun.
Though the hike and bike trails around Lady Bird Lake may get all the attention, the paths along Shoal Creek were the first to be built in Austin some 60 years ago. And some say the parkland there has been overlooked.
"Shoal Creek can be more than it is,” Joanna Wolazer, the new executive director of the Shoal Creek Conservancy, says. “It can be more of an asset to the city than it already is.”
Running nearly 12 miles from North Austin to Lady Bird Lake, Shoal Creek has a dual personality. Most of the time, it's a nearly dry creek bed. But when it rains, it can be a raging torrent.
Now, the newly formed Shoal Creek Conservancy hopes to maintain and improve the watershed.
"Shoal Creek is a thin green line, if you will, running through the heart of the city,” Ted Siff, an Austin park supporter who helped form the Shoal Creek Conservancy, says. "The best choice for this whole watershed is to have an advocate solely for the whole 12 and a half square miles.”
The conservancy just completed a 15-month study of the creek and its five miles of pathway, and the group says the tributary has great potential for development and improvement. Short term goals include walkway repairs and graffiti cleanup.
"But then we have some longer term goals as well, which address the watershed issues – which is the water quality, water quantity and flood risk,” Wolazer says.
Ultimately, the group wants to make Shoal Creek suitable for swimming and fishing and hopes the creek would eventually become a new destination.
"We're working on water quality issues and then also just making the trail and the park a cleaner and more beautiful place to come,” Wolazer says.
The Shoal Creek Conservancy is helping people get to know the Creek with free walking tours through the greenbelt, which start at 9 a.m. every Saturday in October.
For more information, check out the conservancy’s website at www.shoalcreekconservancy.org.