Thanks to support from our members, SBCA is currently working on one of our most ambitious conservation efforts in years. We’ve partnered with the Barton View Neighborhood Association (BVNA) to rehabilitate the Shudde Fath Tract, a 77-acre property in southwest Austin next to the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The tract was purchased by Austin’s Water Quality Protection Lands program in 1998 and named in honor of Shudde Fath, the powerful environmental activist who was also one of SBCA’s charter members. (See SBCA’s March 2023 newsletter for our remembrance of Shudde, who died last year at age 106.)
The Shudde Fath Tract is located in southwest Austin below Barton Creek and above the Barton View neighborhood, in the triangle bounded by Loop 360, MoPac, and US 290. Keeping the tract free from development has preserved an important source of clean water for the Edwards Aquifer, one of the purposes of the Water Quality Protection Lands program. Preventing urbanization and ensuring proper long-term management will ensure that clean water continues to flow through the tract and benefits the entire community. The tract’s proximity to Barton Springs Pool also makes it a valuable cultural resource, contributing to our city’s economic prosperity, environmental integrity, and social equity.
Unfortunately, the Shudde Fath tract has suffered from neglect over the years. Austin Water Utility secured the site last year with a perimeter fence to curtail casual use and enable future restoration. SBCA and BVNA have developed a proposal to establish a stewardship community dedicated to the active conservation of the tract. Planned activities include field and historical research; volunteer recruitment and management; trail planning and development; mapping; and additional program development.
SBCA and BVNA will deliver a presentation at an upcoming meeting of the Water Quality Protection Lands Stakeholder Steering Committee. We’ll outline guidelines for community access and management participation, as well as conservation, preservation, and restoration efforts. SBCA and BVNA are engaging with other organizations for this project, including Austin Ridge Riders, American Youthworks, and Austin Conservation Corps, as well as the staff of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Stay tuned for more updates as this incredible project unfolds!