Guidelines for Urban Forestry and Ecological Restoration

Butler Trail

TTF received approval from the City Urban Forestry Board on May 21, 2014 to use $45,145 from the Urban Forest Grant Program. This program is funded from mitigation payments for tree removals on private properties in Austin; the fund is housed at the Austin Community Foundation. TTF has developed Trail Wide Urban Forestry and Ecological Restoration Guidelines including a site inventory, data acquisition, and management plan for the 199 acres of urban forestland adjacent to Lady Bird Lake and the Butler Trail. This project will build on the growing public-private partnership between the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation.

We took into account not only the woodlands, riparian areas, and landscaped areas but also factored in high pedestrian and bicycle traffic, infrastructure crossings, erosion issues, flooding, invasive species, steep slopes, available resources, and public opinion.

Siglo Group completed the site assessment and developed the guidelines for the Lady Bird Lake natural areas that are associated with the Butler Trail. These implementation of these guidelines will enhance the visitor experience, heighten the ecological integrity of the natural areas, and allow for efficient use of public and private management resources. The end result of the project is a blueprint for long-term management of this integral part of Austin.

TTF puts both time and resources towards the restoration of native trees along the trail through the Healthy Trees for the Trail program. TTF has partnered with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s (PARD) Forestry program to plant trees to increase the age and species diversity of native species of trees in the Butler Trail’s native woodlands and riparian zones. In past years, we have worked closely with Forestry and Texas Conservation Corps (formerly American YouthWorks) on invasive species removal as well. This ongoing program restores and helps diversify the woodlands habitat of the Lady Bird Lake ecosystem while protecting the health of the trees along the Trail for future generations.

Healthy Trees for The Trail also regularly uses volunteers to plant native tree saplings, having successfully planted thousands of small trees at the Trail since 2006. These guidelines complement the Healthy Trees for the Trail program and allow TTF to take the existing ecological restoration urban forestry efforts even further. The goal is to improve the overall measurement and assessment, planning, sophistication, and effect of TTF’s urban forestry work and continue to aide the PARD Forestry program and the City’s nascent Urban Forestry Plan. The Site Assessment and Urban Forestry and Natural Area Management Guidelines (The Plan) focuses on the natural areas outside of formally landscaped areas. It identifies areas appropriate for terrestrial, riparian, and aquatic restoration, as well as invasive species management.


These areas are broken up into zones based on ecologic, topographic, and hydrologic characteristics. Specific land management guidelines and goals will be created for each of the zones. The guidelines incorporate current best management practices that include lessons learned from management successes in the Austin area associated with ecological restoration and invasive species management.

In addition to providing management guidelines, the report prioritizes areas for management for a four-year period. This prioritization is based on each area’s visibility, the likelihood of achieving success in that area, the magnitude of the management issues found there, and whether the work has the potential to reduce long-term maintenance costs. The result is an implementable management plan specific to the natural areas around Lady Bird Lake. With the summer 2014 opening of the Boardwalk   project, there is great potential for planning the enhancement of the previously inaccessible woodlands west of I-35, which have needs in terms of invasive removals, and diversification.

The Plan complements the work being done by the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department (WPD) and the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD). While several entities are involved with management and restoration work around the lake, this project is the first time a detailed assessment and plan has been completed for the entire system. City staff in PARD Forestry, WPD, and the Sustainability office support for this report in prioritizing and coordinating work being done around the lake.

On March 6, 2014 the Austin City Council adopted the Austin Urban Forest Plan: A Master Plan for Public Property. Implementation of the plan began in 2014. This comprehensive management plan provides framework and guidelines for Austin’s urban forest over the next 20 years. The end result will be the strategic use of resources including Parks Department, Watershed Protection Arborist to increase the ecological and aesthetic value of an exceptional natural resource, the Butler Trail, in the heart of Austin, TX.

[button color=”#ffffff” background=”#F47C30″ size=”large” src=”” target=”blank”]Download The Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake: Urban Forestry and Natural Area Management Guidelines[/button]

Urban Forestry Plan and Ecological Restoration Donors

Lakefront Sponsor ($50,000+)

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Urban Forest Grant Program at the Austin Community Foundation

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Bridge Sponsor ($10,000+)

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Whole Foods Market

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Isa Catto Shaw and Daniel Shaw
Catto Charitable Foundation
In memory of Heather Catto Kohout


Path Sponsor ($5,000+)

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Chaparral Foundation

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