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PARD website will coordinate efforts to save Barton Springs trees
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 by Austin Monitor
The Parks and Recreation Department is creating a website to coordinate efforts of people who want to preserve and plant trees at Barton Springs.
Sharon Yarbrough, PARD Grants Coordinator, told the Parks and Recreation /Environmental Board Joint Committee Monday that the website will help coordinate the entities and citizens who want to donate time or money to taking care of the trees. The website, www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/zilkertrees.htm, will include updates on work in progress and the use of donated funds. Cora Wright, Assistant Director at PARD said, it would give the department, “a process of being able to accept those funds, account for the money and make sure it’s being spent for what the donor has intended.”
Donors would have the choice to put money towards the Austin Tree Conservation Trust, which would benefit trees across the city, or to target one of six groves; Barton Springs Bath House Grove; Barton Springs Poolside Grove; Barton Springs Tree Court Grove; Sunken Garden Grove; Zilker Hillside Theater Grove and the Zilker Playscape Grove. Additionally, citizens or groups could donate to the “Planting for the Future Trust,” which would direct funds toward future plantings. A donation of $3,500 would to take care of a tree in a grove for its life cycle.
Yarbrough told the committee that groves were selected as opposed to individual trees because, “trees naturally grow in groves, they are dependent on each other in groves, and also these particular groves were just natural boundaries that appeared at Barton Springs anyway.”
After meeting with stakeholders PARD is still trying to make sure that donations would be tax deductible and is mulling over the best way to recognize donors. “Nothing is in concrete for this plan; we are absolutely 100 percent open to suggestions as for the donor recognition plan,” she said, although she added that PARD didn’t want to do individual plaques near the trees because of site modification issues and potential vandalism.
The joint committee also discussed different ways to tweak solicitations for an arborist to tend to 19 Barton Springs trees that need maintenance, with committee member Danette Chimenti suggesting that requiring arborists to go up in trees and perform the work themselves may mean smaller, local arborists would get the contract as opposed to national corporations. Wright said her staff would look into such a possibility.