Blair Woods Nature Preserve

Protected for wildlife. Open to All.
5401 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin TX 78721
Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Blair Woods is a 10-acre urban oasis open to all members of the community for hands-on nature immersion in East Austin. A nature trail loop traces a pond, prairie, spring, and woodlands. Along the way, signs featuring Rusty the Lizard describe local habitat and the many birds, plants, insects, and animals that call Blair Woods home.

Blair Woods is free and open to the public. We invite you to come meet the natural side of Central Texas. We are eager to introduce you and your family to the birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, and other wildlife that make Austin such a unique place to live.

Thanks to the support of many partners, you will see some exciting changes take place at Blair Woods over the next few years. Revitalized trails and new signage create a welcoming environment for your next nature adventure, and we’re working to track and improve the biodiversity of the sanctuary. Be sure to keep coming back to see what’s new!

Our History

The 10 acres that became Blair Woods was gifted to Travis Audubon in 1985 by Dr. Frank Blair, a noted zoologist and University of Texas professor. However, Blair Woods has a rich history preceding Dr. Blair. As the site of Coleman Springs, it was located near centuries-old trading routes. Ft. Colorado, a Republic of Texas-era military post, was built nearby. Later, the property was acquired by newly arrived Swiss immigrants, who operated a dairy farm for many years. The Blairs bought the property from their descendants.

Dr. Blair often used his acreage as a learning environment for his UT research students, who mostly worked on herpetology projects. After many years of collecting essays from his students, he used the papers to build the dam that created the still-existing pond. He called this the “Dam of Words.”

Dr. Blair is remembered fondly by his neighbors and former students. He would often invite the neighborhood children to play and learn on his property. He had an iguana and other animals which were an endless source of fascination for the neighboring children.

As habitat restoration of Blair Woods continues, Travis Audubon hopes that new neighbors will become engaged in learning about this important natural area. We hope that Blair Woods will be a “living lab” for future generations.

 

Restoration 

Over the last 20-30 years, Blair Woods became degraded due to the spread of non-native plants and pollution from trash and urban runoff. When non-native plants become invasive, they outcompete the native vegetation upon which wildlife depends. The creek and pond are also impacted as native plants are displaced by invasive non-natives. Our restoration program is helping to re-establish a biodiverse woodland, prairie, and riparian corridor.

Travis Audubon engages volunteers at six work days each year to help with these restoration projects. Assistance from groups such as American Youth Works and the Austin Fire Department accelerates the restoration process. The current plan is to remove the non-native invasive plants by 2024 and encourage natives to grow in perpetuity.

 

Ways To Get Involved

 

After-School Program

We partner with Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center to bring after-school programming at Blair Woods to 3rd-5th grade students at Sims/Norman and Ortega Elementary Schools during the fall, spring, and summer. Students are able to explore the trails and participate in activities that teach lessons about ecology and local wildlife. During Fall 2019, we plan to pause the program and start again in Spring 2020.

 

Family Nature Days

Free and open to the public! Nature Days are free weekend events offering guided activities for the whole family. Stay tuned for the Fall 2019 Schedule!

 

Restoration Workdays

Blair Woods needs your help! Our restoration efforts make a tremendous difference in creating a biodiverse woodland, prairie, and riparian corridor. Volunteers are needed to remove non-native invasive plants, plant native vegetation, spread seed, water, and maintain trails. Go to our website calendar to see the schedule of volunteer work days.

 

Guided Tours

Do you have a group that is interested in learning more about Blair Woods? Travis Audubon staff and volunteers would be delighted to take you on a natural history tour of the property. We accept both adult and youth groups. Contact caley@travisaudubon.org for details.

Please note: By participating in this Travis Audubon activity, you are subject to our Event Policies and Liability Waiver. Please click here to review this policy.

 

Our Sponsors

We cannot carry out our restoration and education efforts at Blair Woods without the help of our sponsors. If you would like to become a sponsor for our work at Blair Woods, please contact Development Manager Kelsey McKenna at kelsey@travisaudubon.org.

2019 Sponsors: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Powell Foundation, Shield-Ayres Foundation, Winkler Foundation, Seawell Elam Foundation, Environmental Fund of Texas, 3M Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Past Sponsors: Dell Medical School, Hershey Foundation, Bright Green Futures, David Bamberger, TogetherGreen

 

Print the Blair Woods Sanctuary trail map here!

Check out our other sanctuaries: Baker Sanctuary, Chaetura Canyon & Commons Ford