Statesman Op-Ed by FBSP President: Austin should commit to the care of the neglected trees at Barton Springs Pool

Comment on the Statesman Op-Ed by FBSP President Robin Cravey here.

Cravey: Austin should commit to the care of the neglected trees at Barton Springs Pool

The hue and cry being raised about the trees at Barton Springs Pool is a mixed blessing. The trees have been taken for granted for a long time, so it’s good that people are finally taking notice of their condition. On the other hand, there’s a lot of misinformation. In the long run, getting care for the trees is part of the vision and plan that is bringing new stewardship to the Pool.

From large dead limbs to rotting holes in trunks, the evidence of decay at Barton Springs Pool has been there to see for a long time.

That’s why, in 2006, the Friends of Barton Springs Pool made care of the trees at the pool a priority. We begged city council members and staff for care for the trees. As we worked through the master plan process, we urged that care of the trees be done swiftly. In 2007, the City Council funded care of the trees among the short term projects.

These things take time. So this year we found ourselves anticipating the release of the awaited tree assessment. It was a sensation.

Unfortunately, it was the wrong report. Instead of a report on how the city would take care of some 150 trees that have been neglected, it was a report on how some two dozen trees might need to be removed. We had known that a few trees might be beyond help, but we expected that to be balanced by ambitious plans to care for all of the remaining trees. The report was nothing but bad news.

The parks director pledged not to remove trees until alternatives had been considered. Some arborists say the tree assessment is not so dire as it seems. The Austin Parks Foundation has pledged money for tree planting, and the Friends of Barton Springs Pool has volunteered. The discussion is progressing.

People finally recognize that the trees have been not just neglected, but abused in the way that we thoughtlessly abuse trees all over the city every day. They’re choked in planters, their root zones are paved over, their soil is packed down. Changing that will not be cheap or easy, but change it we must.

It isn’t that the parks staff doesn’t care. In the economic downturn, the parks budget is suffering more than twice the cuts of some other departments. Changing that will not be cheap or easy, either.

These are the systemic issues that can be fixed with sustained attention in the long term. That’s the commitment of the Friends of Barton Springs Pool. And we’re looking for help. Visit

In the meantime, we’re working with the city staff to get on with maintaining the trees. That’s the whole point.

Cravey is president of Friends of Barton Springs Pool.

Friends of Barton Springs Pool Mobilizes Support for the Trees

Read the actual press release here.

The Friends of Barton Springs Pool (FBSP), a local group that organizes volunteers to provide direct support for the maintenance of Barton Springs, has been mobilizing efforts to save the trees. FBSP congratulated Parks Director Sarah Hensley for hiring a local arborist to perform yet another assessment of the two dozen or so trees recently recommended for removal.

The recently released report commissioned by the City of Austin as part of the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan recommends the removal of many trees from the Barton Springs pool and surrounding. Many large, old trees might face the ax, shocking local environmentalists and swimmers.

FBSP requested and supports the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan mandating the tree study. In fact, FBSP requested that study and care of the trees be included in the master plan. Also, FBSP supports the City of Austin Parks Department decision to make a careful and more comprehensive study of trees where consensus on their removal doesn’t exist. However, with regards to public safety, some of the trees will clearly have to go.

“We want to save and preserve every tree we can,” declared FBSP President Robin Cravey. “However, we understand that a few trees are too far gone to save. Trees that pose a significant danger to the public will have to be sacrificed.”

Volunteers on the FBSP board pointed out that the trees were not slated for removal to allow for improvements to the bathhouse and other facilities as some people have alleged. These improvements were meant to incorporate the footprint of the existing trees, not to chop them down. In fact, some facility improvements will benefit the trees, including moving the bath house entrance back to the center of the building and burying the electrical lines now strung through treetops along the sides of the Pool.

FBSP plans to reap the benefit of publicity surrounding the trees to bring about new stewardship programs for the trees, water quality, and other amenities associated with the famous pool. They announced their intention to:
• Solicit volunteers to re-plant trees and assist on grounds maintenance.
• Obtain donations and matching funds with the Austin Parks Foundation.
• Coordinate with the city for tree purchases.

The FBSP also proposes the implementation of a Tree Action Plan to maximize tree care and minimize tree removal. Aggressive tree re-planting efforts are needed to replace older trees before it is too late. Other elements of the plan include:
• Evaluation of current mowing practices and care of the ground surface under tree “drip lines.”
• Consideration of modifying improved ground surfaces near bathhouse and inside pool area.
• Use of cost and feasibility as a principal rationale for deciding if tree preservation is worthwhile (less emotional and more focused on reasonable budgets)
• Where currently ill trees are preserved or nursed back to health, evaluate pool management practices to keep public safety risks low (windy, stormy conditions). Continue reading “Friends of Barton Springs Pool Mobilizes Support for the Trees”

Tree Assessment will bring changes to Pool grounds

In 2006 the Friends of Barton Springs Pool warned that trees in the pool area needed attention.  City council funded a study and evaluation of the trees.  The study has been delivered.  Some trees must be removed, some will receive care, and some new trees will be planted.

Friends vice president Robin Cravey commented, “Tree removals hurt, but sometimes they are necessary.  The benefit is that new trees will be planted, and many of the trees standing will get much-needed arbor care.”

The Barton Springs Tree Assessment Report and Action Plan will be presented to the Joint Committee of the Parks and Environmental Boards on Monday evening at 6:30 pm.  Also on the agenda are reports on Barton Springs Gravel Removal, Barton Springs Bypass Tunnel, and Barton Springs Short-Term Projects.  Representative of Friends of Barton Springs will attend the meeting.

Read the tree study at:

Tree Assessment
Tree Assessment

Thank you volunteers!

Greetings Volunteers!!!

Thanks for two great weekends of successful cleanings! I’m sure everyone’s excited that the pool is open again 🙂

We were able to accomplish quite a lot both Saturdays:

– Trimmed plants around pool & outside front entrance
– Painted trim of main building and bathhouses
– Weeded areas around the grounds
– 20 pallets of sod placed on north & south hills
– 20 aquatic plants prepared for transfer into the springs
– Swept shallow end of pool
– Finished raking leaves along the south hill
– Mulch distributed outside front entrance of pool
– Flowers & vegetation planted outside front entrance
– Painted benches inside bathhouses
– Floating algae removed around the pool
– Handrails scrubbed

Additional appreciation goes to the previous Friends of Barton Springs Pool Members whose generous donations help provide the volunteers and pool staff with vital tools needed to accomplish the tasks above (and more), the Austin Parks Foundation for coordinating another successful It’s My Park Day!

Day event, FBSP for the snacks donated for the 2/28 cleaning, and Wheatsville Co-Op for the delicious snacks provided on Sat 3/7.

For those of you who registered with the Austin Parks Foundation on their website by March 4th for It’s My Park! Day, please send me an email if you did not receive a t-shirt. Unfortunately, they ran out of Small and Medium size t-shirts so all I received were Large t-shirts. I’m not sure who all received t-shirts on Saturday (3/7/09) but I received 19 t-shirts and have 7 left. Please let me know if you did not receive a t-shirt and if L is okay or a different size is preferred & I will contact the Austin Parks Foundation to see if any other sizes (other than L) were returned.

Everyone who volunteered BOTH Saturdays (2/28 & 3/7) have earned a Friends of Barton Springs Pool t-shirt! We have S – XXL available, so if you got the wrong size or didn’t get one at all, please let me know. We have our annual FBSP Membership meeting at the Splash Exhibit on Saturday, April 25th at NOON where you can pick up or trade your FBSP t-shirt at that time, and meet the rest of the FBSP Board. We do have some vacancies on the board this coming spring, so if you are interested in being more involved, we welcome you to join us!!!

We have added a few more events to our calendar including the Full Moon Swims, and the next sub-committee meeting for the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan (improvements/renovations for the pool & grounds). Coming up, we will be posting pictures from our cleanings and the dates for our future pool cleanings! I will send out another email with the cleaning dates for the swim season once they are confirmed.

Thank you all again for your assistance & we hope to see you at the pool
again soon!

~ Annie Buckman
FBSP Service Chair,

Master Plan passes 7-0

Today the city council has agreed that Barton Springs Pool deserves renovation, better water quality, and preservation. It passed the Master Plan with a vote of 7-0!

Thank you all for sending emails to the city council, attending the press conference, and coming to city hall today! Our hard work has paid off and today we will celebrate a much needed victory for Barton Springs Pool.

Master Plan Coverage in the News:
News 8 Austin
Austin American Statesman

Master Plan
Master Plan