AUSTIN, Texas – As people continue to move to Texas and cities like Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas experience rapid growth and development, the preservation of green spaces in these urban areas becomes more important than ever.
What you need to know
- Eric Paulus maintains the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in East Austin
- Preserve is 10 hectares and is home to 1,300 species of animals
- The area was a dump prior to involvement with the nonprofit Ecology Action of Texas
- An on-site classroom for environmental education is planned
In the heart of East Austin, Circle Acres Nature Preserve provides the community with nearly 10 acres of native forest and walking trails to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and thanks to the work of the nonprofit Ecology Action of Texas, it has become one of the most biodiverse areas in all Austin.
However, preserving the 10 hectare natural habitat is no small matter, and a man is determined to preserve it for generations to come.
“We have documented over 1,800 species in the park alone and over 1,300 species in the county alone,” said Eric Paulus, director of Ecology Action of Texas.
But the Circle Acres Nature Preserve hasn’t always been the thriving nature reserve it is today.
“In the 1960s, the city took its municipal waste to Circle Acres and burned it in that field and beyond,” Paulus said.
The land served as fallow land, landfill, and landfill for decades before the Texas nonprofit ecology campaign got involved and the cleanup and environmental remediation work began.
“We took what was the most polluted property in this area and, over 15 years and the efforts of thousands of volunteers, turned it into something really meaningful for the people who live here, but also for the wildlife that live here “said Paul. “It is actually one of the most biodiverse 10 acres in Austin at this point.”
Today, as director and sole employee of the non-profit organization, Paulus is responsible for the maintenance of the entire nature reserve.
“I’ve always been a plant person. So it is quite a privilege to be able to take care of nature and work on growing. Growing a forest is actually quite a privilege, “said Paul.
But it’s a big responsibility.
He single-handedly carries out projects like restoring native plants in the park.
“This is a poplar tree. And we have a cage, a pretty sturdy cage, and a watering bag. So the cage will keep the deer and wild boar from devouring the tree until it is established, “said Paul.
He also maintains all of the hiking trails and continuously applies for grants to maintain and financially support the non-profit organizations.
“Some big, long-term plans that we hope will turn into action [include] Build a classroom for environmental education on the site and get some solar panels so we can actually power a few things on the site, “said Paul.
But maybe his greatest passion project is public relations and education.
“The idea is to help a new generation teach environmental responsibility and give them practical opportunities to learn and participate in this process. We are in the midst of a major climate crisis that, as you know, will span our entire lifespan, and we have a responsibility to put things right and make the efforts to fix things, “Paul said.
An effort in which we can all participate.