Tag Archives: Recreation

You Look Bike-alicious!!!

My experience as a novice Austin biker:

I recently took a 3- hr seminar on lawfully riding a bike in Austin and it was very informative. Our instructor went over subjects like: proper signaling, traffic maneuvering and Austin biking statistics. I was shocked at all the things I did not know about biking and how there were so many rules for the people I seen carrying on daily life.

After the class session the question was asked did I feel safer if I were to ride a bike, the answer is definitely, “No!”. I say that only because when I was a kid, biking meant fun and carefree days and now as a “novice city biker”, there are so many things to be weary of, like, buses and drivers not seeing you.
The next portion of training was actually taking a bike out to cycle. It was a ton of fun! We rode around for about an hour and then hauled it in with some constructive criticism from our instructor. It was a great ride, even though, there are a ton of reasons why I am afraid, I still can’t ignore the reasons why I would ride a bike. There are a ton of (1) healthy obvious reasons why bike riding is beneficial- avid bike riders usually eat healthier and are more physically fit. (2)It is feasible- I am rolling the numbers in my head on how much I would save on gas, if I simply biked short distances. (3) Lastly, I would cut down on my carbon-foot print if I simply didn’t drive so much!

Even though, I started off afraid of riding a bike in the streets of Austin, I was easily persuaded after a 1-hour ride around the neighborhood.  There are many programs in Austin to get you “bike ready” for the streets. All you need to do is a little research and you will find yourself enjoying all the benefits of pushing two pedals and you will look “Bike-alicious” doing it!

Icye Walker, Sierra Club Intern

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Austin Disc Golf: Outdoor Enjoyment on Hiatus

A disc golfer at Pease Park, Photo courtesy of Austin360.com

Austin, Texas has always maintained a reputation as a different sort of Texas city, proud of it’s originality and unabashedly weird.  This sort of friendly, incubating atmosphere has fostered countless subcultures over the years and one particularly expansive and successful offshoot is Austin’s disc golf community.  Disc golf is a sport with modern roots going back to California in the 1960s; it involves throwing modified Frisbees around various obstacles into designated baskets according to rules very similar to traditional golf.  Disc golf arrived in the Austin area shortly after it’s California debut and has developed a strong following.  The Austin area has around 20 disc golf courses within a 30-minute drive, multiple enthusiast clubs and one of the world’s largest disc golf stores.

Historically, Austin’s Pease Park and disc golf have gone hand in hand.  The park opened its disc golf course in 1989 and the course’s central location and proximity to campus attracted large amounts of disc golfers.  Too many actually, according to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.  The heavy amount of foot traffic around Shoal Creek led to erosion issues, which threaten trees along the shoreline and expose wastewater pipelines.  The bank loss and compacted soil were also taking their toll on the park’s natural ecosystem.  The Austin PARD opted in 2010 to close the course to prevent further damage and allow groups such as the Shoal Creek Restoration Project uninhibited access to recuperate the area.  However, acknowledging the high demand for disc golf in Austin, the PARD initially promised to open a new course as a consolation.

The new course was planned to adjoin a southeast Austin park, Roy G Guerrero Park on the south side of Lady Bird Lake.  The proposal involved using 7 acres of existing parkland and 28 acres the city bought in 2007 and had yet to develop.  The momentum of the project ground to a halt when it met resistance on two local fronts.  The first opposition was support of developing the land into neighborhoods, which while not coinciding with the PARD’s intentions did make sense under the original zoning of the land.  The second argument against disc golf came from nature advocates, who believed that the stress on the ecosystem seen at Pease Park would also occur at this new course.  Specific worries about the health of the historic Pecan and Heritage trees in the area spearheaded this argument.  These claims are representative of more general trend in the Austin area to set aside nature preserves, a trend that has seen remarkable success in the greenbelt system.

Now the new course is in limbo, the PARD has chosen to study the issue before moving forward and an advisory committee is weighing the practicality of other sites for a course.  If environmental concerns are truly a priority, then perhaps time should be a more pressing issue in this case; the disc golf community in Austin has not shrunk, and by removing a popular course you are just channeling more traffic through the courses that remain.  Personally speaking the current course at Bartholomew District Park off of east 51st looks worse in terms of erosion than Pease Park ever did.  Furthermore, the damage to trees argument needs either better proof or to be debunked.  The PARD’s reasons to close Pease Park did not include tree damage from discs, so how can this fear justify putting a new course on hiatus? If the danger is to the root system, careful course layout and the use of “out of bounds” areas can circumvent this problem.

I believe the solution moving forward requires the PARD to better promote their own mission, which is to serve the Austin community at large with quality “recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences”.  Right now the disc golf community in Austin feels marginalized at the expense of smaller local interests.  While local groups must be considered and protected, they cannot have an undue share of influence in how the city operates.  Other disc golf courses are currently experiencing the high activity level seen at Pease and will experience similar fates unless the city acts to meet the growing demand for this recreational sport.  The city of Austin is expanding and changing at an incredible pace and will continue to do well into the foreseeable future.  Taking this into account, it is the duty of the city and its citizens to continue to protect and encourage Austin’s cultural identity.

It would be a shame for us to lose touch with the original ethos: “Keep Austin Weird”.

Chris Jaynes, Intern

Sources:

Waterloo Disc Golf President’s Letter to the Editor

KXAN: No final plans for disc golf course

KXAN: final tosses for disc golf in Pease Park

Park Profile:  Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park

Shoal Creek Restoration Project

Austin Parks and Recreation

City Council Hearing January 27, 2011

Austin360: Are disc golfers ruining Pease?

Test your White Stallion knowledge!

Think you’re White Stallion savvy?  Want to impress your family members at your next reunion with some impressive coal and White Stallion trivia?   Well you’re in luck! A great volunteer put this White Stallion quiz together and is letting us share it with the world!

With questions like ” Who will White Stallion’s customers be?” and some general coal questions like “How many of the nation’s six largest new coal plants have created the number of jobs promised by developer?” – this is your one-stop shop for White Stallion facts.

Here is the version with the answers and Here is the version without answers for those who really want a challenge!

Tell us how you did!

– Lydia Avila, Conservation OrganizerEnhanced by Zemanta

Valley Needs More Green Space

Rio Grande Valley Sunrise

Image by Lomo-Cam via Flickr

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierrans are talking about a study by Dr. J. Andrew McDonald, a UT Pan Am biologist.  Dr. McDonald compares the following metro areas green space dedicated for conservation and recreation and he found that:

Austin dedicates 10%

San Antonio dedicates 5%

And the Valley has only one-hundredth of one percent!

Here’s what Mark Peña, of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club and Regional Coordinator of the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign says:

Mr. McDonald’s findings shed a clear light on the desperate condition of the Valley’s natural environment.  They reveal the necessity to preserve and restore the native landscape that remains and the overwhelming need to acquire additional green spaces for our communities.  Quality of life, sustainability, and the overall health and economic success of our region will ultimately depend on the willingness of local governments to address this critical issue.

Do you live in the Valley?  Why not pick up the phone today and let your local elected official know about the McDonald study?  Ask her or him to investigate areas that can be conserved for green space and recreational activities.

Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

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Do you know an environmental hero?

Logo of Sierra Club
Image via Wikipedia

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club annually recognizes Sierra Club members and others who have done outstanding work in pursuit of environmental protection or in furthering the goals and activities of the Sierra Club. Most of the nominations for these chapter awards come from chapter and group leaders
The deadline for nominations for the 2010 awards is February 4, 2011. This deadline is necessary in order to give the Chapter Awards Committee time to review the nominations, make their selections, consult with the Chapter Executive Committee, and make arrangements for the award winners to attend the presentation.

More information here.

The Chapter’s award categories include: 1. Orrin Bonney Award – The Chapter’s highest award, given to the person who over a number of years (at least six) has exemplified the spirit and commitment of the Sierra Club by contributing their time and effort in one or several positions of authority for the Chapter.

2. Evelyn R. Edens Award – Commemorates the work of this Fort Worth area environmentalist who passed away in Feb. 1993. She worked in cooperation with others to create Save the Brazos and the annual Texas Meeting on the Outdoors and served on the executive committee of the Lone Star Chapter. The award, to be conferred only when merited, will honor river conservation efforts of individuals and groups.

3. Hermann Rudenberg Award – To be given to a Sierra Club member or other person who has worked diligently for the protection of Texas coastal resources. The award is named for its first recipient, Hermann Rudenberg of Galveston, who died in 1994. He was a longtime coastal activist for the Sierra Club at the local, state and National level.

4. Virginia Murray Brewer Award – To be given to a Sierra Club member or members who have contributed to the Chapter and/or a Regional Group via the Outings Program. The award commemorates Virginia Murray Brewer, who along with her husband Byron, was an active member and founder of the Central Texas Regional Group of the Sierra Club. Virginia was active in leading and promoting group outings that drew many members into the Central Texas Regional Group.

5. Chapter Conservation Award – To be given to a Sierra Club member or members who have worked diligently during the past year on a particular issue or who have revitalized the conservation efforts of the Chapter or Group.

6. Chapter Service Award – To be given to a Sierra Club member or members who have contributed significantly to the administrative activities of the Chapter, and/or Group, including fundraising, membership, publications, etc.

7. Special Service Award – To be given to the person or persons, members or non-members, who on one or more occasions have performed either a special service to the Sierra Club or to environmental protection.

8. Environmental Reporting Award – To be given to the reporter(s) in any media who have produced a series or single report which has provided exceptional coverage of an environmental issue. A volunteer award is given to a person or persons who has produced media projects or published Chapter or Group newsletters.

9. Phyllis Van Kerrebrook Award For Population – To be given to a Sierra Club member whose actions reflect Phyllis Van Kerrebrook’s vision for the future where (1) the needs of the human population are in balance with the Earth’s natural resources and (2) every child is a wanted child who is assured of inheriting a healthy and abundant Earth. This award is named for Phyllis Van Kerrebrook, for 25 years a planned parenthood advocate, who, until her death, was population chair of the Lone Star Chapter. The award will be conferred only when merited.

10. Environmental Justice Award – To be given to an individual or organization that has done outstanding work toward identifying and addressing environmental problems that have a disproportionately adverse effect on communities of color and/or low-income communities. This award will be conferred only when merited.

11. Harrold Tabor Award for Fundraising – To be given to a Sierra Club member or members who have done outstanding work in the area of fundraising for the Club during the past year. This award is named for Harrold Tabor, who was an active leader of both the Lone Star Chapter and the Concho Valley (San Angelo) Regional Group for many years. He was the creative force behind the Chapter’s fundraising efforts in the 1980s, and his leadership in building financial resources helped the Chapter to achieve a major expansion of its conservation work in Texas. The award will be conferred only when merited. This award is especially designed to be given for work at the regional level because of the importance of local fundraising, but it may be conferred also for fundraising work at the state and chapter level.

12. Art in Service to the Environment Award – To be given to an individual or group for an outstanding work of art in any medium or discipline in service to the environment. The award will be conferred only when merited.

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