Contribute to the new Parks & Libraries fund with your COA Utility Bill
Austinites now have the option to contribute to the new Parks & Libraries Fund through their city of Austin utility bill stub. You can easily add any dollar amount to your utility bill to make a donation supporting programming in our cherished parks and library system. Donations are considered tax-deductible to the extent that the law allows.
How will your Parks & Libraries donation be used by the Austin Parks & Recreation Department (PARD)?
PARD wants to ensure that all children have an opportunity to gather, learn and grown within our recreation programs. As such, part of the Parks & Libraries Fund will be used to subsidize fees associated with summer camp and after-school programs to ensure these programs are assessable to all Austin community members.
Planting for the Future Fund
Funding will also be used to replenish Austin’s urban forest with new tree plantings on public property. Trees help shade and cool their surroundings, which is especially important in urban areas, where temperatures can be several degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside (often called the “heat island effect”). By planting a diverse mix of native, well-adapted trees in the right locations, electricity usage for cooling is reduced, the deterioration of city infrastructure is lessened, and more water is captured and infiltrated into our soils instead of running off and causing flooding and pollution. The net result is cost savings for the city (and you, the taxpayer!), as well as a reduction in the city’s overall carbon footprint. Trees are the original green solution.
How will your Parks & Libraries donation be used by the Austin Public Library?
The Austin Public Library is committed to providing easy access to books and information for all ages, through responsive professionals, engaging programs, and state of the art technology in a safe and friendly environment. The Library currently has over 1.4 million items in its collection and is expanding quickly, especially in its digital offerings. The Library currently offers over 22,000 digital e-books, e-audio books, and e-video as well as streaming video for customers to access from their home or on-the-go via their smart phones or other high-tech devices. This fund will allow us to purchase more of these extremely popular, high-demand materials, and to branch out into other digital formats such as e-magazines and downloadable music.
APF President, Daniel Woodroffe, Wins Austin Under 40
Terry and Daniel Woodroffe at the Austin Under 40 Awards Event on February 22, 2013 (left photo). Daniel (back) and a group of volunteers at Republic Square Park in January (right photo).
Daniel Woodroffe, APF’s board president, is the founder of dwg., one of Austin’s premier landscape architecture firms. He was honored at the 15th Annual Austin Under 40 awards ceremony Friday, February 22, 2013 with a category win in Architecture, Engineering and Design. The top honors at these awards recognize young professionals for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields and commitment to community service.
“I’m humbled to stand among such a prestigious and amazing group of individuals tonight,” Daniel said, as he accepted his award from presenter Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “With these leaders at the helm, the future of Austin looks brighter than ever.”
Daniel has practiced landscape architecture in America for over fifteen years. With a British pedigree and training he has amassed a wealth of hospitality, urban design, parks, complex architectural construction, green infrastructure and permitting experience. He was selected as the local landscape architect on the winning Michael Van Valkenburgh team for the Waller Creek project — the result of an almost year-long juried selection process, and one which will heavily impact the future of Austin’s downtown corridor.
Daniel is passionate about design excellence, collaboration and public service. He is an urban open-space advocate and has been a board member of APF for five years, and president for the past year. He is also a board member of the Downtown Austin Alliance, and is chair of the Congress Avenue WOW Committee. Daniel is particularly dedicated to Republic Square Park, where he leads a monthly workday to assist PARD with the management and maintenance of the recent investment in the park’s infrastructure (the deck and landscaping around the “Auction Oaks”).
“For years Austin has considered itself a city in a park,” says Daniel. “However, with a combination of drought, funding shortfalls, a lack of resources and increased pressure from a rapidly increasing population our parks are being loved to death. Republic Square has exemplified the critical role of APF to fundraise, vision and execute improvements, in careful coordination with our partners and the PARD, to transform one of Austin's signature downtown (and historic) parks.”
Daniel’s firm, dwg. practices urban landscape architecture with an exclusive focus on urban design in the Central Business District and adjacent density design corridors. The firm has quickly become the leader within Austin’s design community notable for their modern design, relationships and expertise.
To volunteer for one of Daniel's monthly Republic Square Park "Weed-n-Feed" workdays, visit our calendar.
Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Project
by Diane Sherrill, Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization
Commons Ford Metropolitan Park has been a favorite spot for birders for some time, especially Ed Fair. When it was brought to his attention (by Byron Stone, another well respected birder) that most of the park’s vegetation was invasive, non-native grasses; and that those grasses did not support the grassland birds and wildlife that are in decline as the prairies disappear, Ed decided to do something about it. The first planning meeting for Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization (CFPRO) was held in February, 2010, and has grown into a community organization composed of about 120 members.
The sole focus of CFPRO is to remove the non-native plant species in the 40 acre center tract of the park and restore the prairie back to native grasses, wildflowers and the animals that need them. This is a significant and environmentally sound project, preserving the natural heritage, native vegetation and wildlife. It also offers tremendous educational opportunities for the community.
Partnerships were formed with numerous organizations and individuals: Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Parks Foundation, Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP), USDA/ Natural Resources Conservation Service, Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), Travis Audubon Society, Native American Seed Company and numerous individual volunteers.
The project has raised more than $60,000 through December 31, 2012, not including in-kind contributions and volunteer time. Funds have been obtained from Austin Parks Foundation (who also acts as CFPRO’s charitable umbrella), TogetherGreen, Patagonia Stores, Field Guides and private donations.
Phase I of the project has been completed. Implementing a plan prepared by NPAT, glyphosate treatments were applied in summer and fall of 2011. Drought conditions prevented the planned prescribed burn. Post treatment tilling was done in February, 2012. A seed mix of about 70 native species, created by Native American Seed, with input from BCP staff and other plant and birding experts, was planted by Native American Seed in late February, 2012.
Heavy spring and summer rains resulted in strong initial wildflower growth as well as early successional native grasses. As of mid-fall, 2012, the prairie is seeding out appropriately with an expected result of strong growth of native plants in 2013. The result has proved evident given the significant number of song and prairie birds now already evident in the prairie.
Removing invasives permanently requires persistence. Bermuda grass remains in some areas and needs to be retreated followed by native seed replanted in the treated area. Without this continuing work, the Bermuda and other non-natives could retake the prairie.
Upcoming events with CFPRO
- Education and fundraising efforts are underway for 2013. Monthly bird walks are taking place with registration at http://travisaudubon.org/get-outdoors/field-trips.
- A Big Day in the Park fundraiser with nature and bird walks, food, children’s activities and more will be held April 7, 2013: http://www.commonsfordpro.blogspot.com/p/big-day-in-park-2013.html
- Please consider joining CFPRO (free!), attending some of the Big Day events, making a cash donation at www.tinyurl.com/commonsfordPRO or volunteering your time.
Project Leaders Needed for 2013 It's My Park Day
APF is looking for volunteers and project leaders to support the Foundation’s 2013 It’s My Park Day on Saturday, March 2.
It’s My Park Day gathers thousands of Austinites every March to celebrate and improve their parks and public spaces throughout Austin’s neighborhoods. The annual event is APF’s largest single volunteer event of the year. In 2012, more than 2,000 Austin volunteers participated in more than 70 park-improvement projects across the city.
To support and lead this year’s projects, APF is seeking volunteers to host and organize park projects. APF provides the tools, food, additional volunteers and training leaders need to effectively complete their projects and enjoy their volunteer service. Small-grants are also available for additional tools and supplies.
Volunteers interested in leading projects leaders should register their project idea at the here. Project leaders will receive orientation directly from APF staff in advance of It’s My Park Day.
Possible projects include the following and more:
- Mulching (APF will provide mulch)
- Invasive species removal
- Trail restoration
- Erosion control
- Tree pruning
- Park cleanup
- Wildflower planting
- Ecological restoration
A detailed list of projects and events will soon be available and frequently updated. In total, more than 70 parks will be included across Austin and Travis County. Project and event times will vary by site.
Volunteers will receive a special-edition 2013 It’s My Park Day t-shirt and lunch.
Great Grants! Zilker Botanical Garden
The Garden Club of the Austin Fern Team recently completed a very exciting park improvement project at the Zilker Botanical Garden. The Garden is part of Zilker Park, and is a collaborative project of the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin Area Garden Council (AAGC).
The Garden Club received a Parks Grant from the Austin Parks Foundation in the fall of 2011 in order to expand the planting areas along the walkway to the Rose Garden and establish fern beds. This took a huge effort because the area was covered in weeds, ivy, and other invasive plants that were choking out native species. Fortunately, the Club has more than 40 hearty and dedicated volunteers.
As a result of this effort, the view from the main area of the garden is now significantly improved. What was a large undeveloped area of English ivy, poison ivy, and hackberry trees is now a beautifully cultivated shade garden, which borders the central thoroughfare in Zilker. A visitor’s perception of the total garden is changed forever.
“The best part of the project is the completed product, of course, but it was a joyful experience,” said Fern Team leader Laura Joseph. “Working successfully together – APF, Parks and Recreation Department, Garden Club gardeners, and paid providers – made for a highly positive and productive experience.”
The Garden Club of Austin has been working on the Zilker Botanical Garden for more than 50 years. To see fruits of this wonderful group’s labor, visit the Botanical Garden at 2220 Barton Springs Road. The Garden is open most days from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm and is only $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. More information about the garden: www.zilkergarden.org.
This post is part of our “Great Grants!” series. Twice a year, the Austin Parks Foundation gives grants of financial support to Park Adopter groups in order to complete high-quality park-improvement projects. You can read more about our Park Grants Program here.