Austin, Texas – – In 2020 there was a lot of downtime in the work of homework and closed businesses. That left more Austinites with a desire or need to go outside and just do something. That fits in perfectly with the great trails Austin has in and around town.
The Trail Foundation, which maintains the Butler hiking / biking trail along Lady Bird Lake, saw usage increase by at least 20% due to the pandemic.
Despite the colder weather, they have heard some stories of Austinites needing a change of scenery from their homes. The Butler Hiking Trail offers a perfect combination of outdoor activities that are easy to get socially distant and that all-important change of scenery that doesn’t happen indoors.
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Officials stressed that people should approach the holidays with a new and open attitude to how their time is used, but should still follow guidelines.
The additional demand arises at a time when several projects have been completed.
The Brazos Bluff deck project is now open, providing families with a shady resting place and reducing the erosive power of rainwater runoff into Lady Bird Lake. It does this with new native plants, retaining walls, and other obstacles that slow rainwater runoff and reduce erosion.
As expected, 2020 wasn’t all good news for the Trails Foundation. The organization relies on volunteers to maintain the trail, remove invasive species, and repair the habitat along the way. For this reason they interrupted the volunteer days until January (COVID dependent).
The Trail Foundation says that despite the voluntary restrictions, they managed to plant more than 5,200 trees and install a “floating wetland” to repair environmental damage caused by the construction and use of boardwalks.
However, the job is never done. A safety and mobility study was conducted that looked at how Austin’s explosive growth affected the trail and how residents see and experience it. It will address lighting, path width, and navigation issues as reported by the community.
The safety and mobility study will be presented in January.
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