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

21 May 2009 by admin, Comments Off on 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 www.friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

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.

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