Compiled by Eric Stager, President of Travis Audubon
On March 25, Austin Water held a stakeholder’s meeting at Hornsby Bend to discuss upcoming projects that will impact access to portions of the property for birding.
Assistant Director Daryl Slusher greeted the group and introduced the speakers: Kevin Anderson, coordinator of the Center for Environmental Research at Hornsby; and John Mitchell, the Hornsby Bend facilities engineer.
Kevin gave us an update on the tree removal program. Under order from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Hornsby Bend has been removing smaller trees (6 inches in diameter and less) as well as dead or dying trees from the embankments around the ponds. This is required to maintain the structural integrity of the embankments, which are considered dams by the TCEQ. The tree removals will resume in September, after bird nesting season is over, and continue until March. There may be limited, temporary road closures during the tree removal project.
John Mitchell gave us an introduction to two major projects that will limit birding access to portions of Pond 1 West and Pond 2. The first project will include a complete rebuild of the sidestream plant, located on the west side of Pond 1 West and Pond 2. New gates have been installed to keep vehicles out of the area. Birders may park and walk past the vehicle gates up to the chain link fence that encloses the work area. Please do not try to walk beyond the chain link fence! Fortunately, this project will not affect any of the trails along the river. The trails will remain open throughout the project. Also, we were happy to hear that the old concrete structure near the sidestream plant that is being used as a roost by Chimney Swifts will be preserved. The sidestream plant project is expected to continue until Fall 2020.
The second major project involves building a new pump station near the northwest corner of Pond 2, and will include demolishing the greenhouse building and filling of the ponds within the greenhouse. This project will not start until the sidestream plant rebuild is complete in late 2020.
Another Hornsby stakeholder meeting will be scheduled for September. Travis Audubon appreciates the efforts of Austin Water to keep us informed about these projects.