Restoring Lady Bird Lake Through the Girl Scout Gold Award
September 20, 2022
Hi TTF Community!
My name is Anna, and I am an Ambassador Girl Scout in 12th grade working on my Gold Award! The Gold Awardis the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of USA and is essentially a service project in which a girl scout strives to help solve an issue near and dear to her heart and create lasting change within her community.
To describe my project in detail: My project is what is known as the “Native Wetland Plant Restoration” project. Working with The Trail Foundation (TTF), the goal of my project is to help restore, preserve, and enhance the habitat and environment of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail by restoring a section of Lady Bird Lake. My project, located near South Lakeshore Blvd. and South Pleasant Valley Road, involves many elements designed to further sustain the habitat of the lake.
Specifically, we constructed a rectangular-shaped exclosure (an exclosure is essentially a box designed to keep things out) made of permeable wire mesh fencing along a section of the shoreline. The enclosure is designed to keep this section of the lake protected and separate from the rest of the lake during the restoration process.
Propagating Native Plants
Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata)
Inside the exclosure, we planted many different types of native plants to help increase the biodiversity of the lake ecosystem. Some of the types of plants include: Thalia, Crinum Lily, Horsetail Reed, and Pickerel Weed. By planting these kinds of plants, I am helping to sustain the Central Texas habitat by keeping these native species present in the area.
Since these plants are not available to buy commercially, the project involved harvesting and propagating them in a greenhouse facility owned by The Trail Foundation and City of Austin Watershed Protection Department. To harvest the plants, I went to a pond called Oak Spring near Oak Springs Elementary School (it’s like a big swamp!) that contains these native plants, dug some up, put them in pots, and brought them back to the greenhouse facility. At the greenhouse, in a process called propagation, I separated them out by the roots into smaller plants so that we could multiply the number of plants and grow them. After separating and potting the plants, I placed them into tubs of water since wetland plants are meant to grow in water.
Providing New Habitat
Weeks later when they had grown enough on their own, we transported them to our site at the lake and planted them in our exclosure. The exclosure allows the plants to continue to grow and sustain themselves on their own before being exposed to the rest of the wildlife in the lake. These plants serve as a food source for many of the wildlife in the Lady Bird Lake ecosystem including herbivores such as grass carp, nutria, and turtles.
My family, friends, and I have enjoyed using the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake my entire life and it has been incredibly powerful and touching to be able to work hands on with the people at TTF to help make the Trail and lake a better place. It feels amazing to be a part of something that protects and preserves the Trail at Lady Bird Lake for other people to enjoy.