Updated Jan 1, 2001

An Action Plan for Bull Creek

A Roadmap to a More Sustainable Watershed

Brochure Contents: 1. Culture and Character | 2. Water | 3. Development | 4. Recreation | 5. Habitat |

1. Culture and Character


To preserve the scenic beauty of the watershed and document the unique cultural and natural history of the area.

Photo: Erik Bliss

Top Issues

The rural character of Old Spicewood Springs Road is threatened.

Photo: Inga VanNynatten


Initiate a Culture and Character Preservation Project

  • Identify critical viewsheds and scenic, natural, and historic features of the watershed.

  • Identify opportunities for purchases and dedications. The results from this project can be linked to the Sustainable Development Picturebook project and to the Old Spicewood Springs Road Scenic Heritage Corridor project. (See reverse side)

    Document the History of the Bull Creek Valley

  • Document the unique cultural history of the Bull Creek valley by recording oral histories of long-time residents. The histories will focus on the connections between people and the natural resources of the watershed. Information gathered from these interviews and related research will be used to develop interpretive displays throughout the watershed.

    2. Water


    To maintain a "very good" environmental integrity index rating (as determined by the City of Austin) such that Bull Creek continues to support the contact recreation and drinking water supply uses of the waterway.

    Top Issues

  • The existing "very good" water quality in the watershed is projected to be significantly degraded in the future
  • Certain household and business practices (e.g. lawn fertilizing, car washing, pavement cleaning) are threatening water quality
  • Stream and spring flow may be reduced in the future by increases in impervious cover due to reduced amounts of rainwater replenishing the groundwater.


    Conduct A Nonpoint Source Pollution Direct Marketing Campaign

  • Deliver educational materials about water quality directly to watershed residents in cooperation with the Watershed Protection Department's outreach programs.

    Photo: Inga VanNynatten

    Components of this campaign would include:

    1. Developing a mailing list of all single family residences, businesses (and other targeted segments) in the 32 square mile watershed area,
    2. Assembling packets of existing homeowner/business water quality educational materials from local partner agencies, and
    3. Mailing or hand delivering the information packets.

    Participate in the City Watershed Master Plan

  • Review recommendations and identify community priorities within the City of Austin watershed master plan and water quality studies.

    Use the Bull Creek Watershed Model in Local Schools

  • Initiate a school program using the 3-D watershed model and curriculum (developed as part of this planning project) to teach children the importance of watershed stewardship.

    Photo: Erik Bliss

    3. Development


    To incorporate sustainable building techniques in all new development that occurs in the watershed, minimizing impervious cover and land disturbance whenever possible.
    Photo: Erik Bliss

    Top Issues

    • Planning objectives and their implementation are hindered by lack of jurisdictional control and the existence of property grandfathered from current regulations
    • Alternative development strategies, which have less impact on the environment, are not actively encouraged in the watershed
    • Increased traffic is decreasing the quality of life

    Create a Sustainable Development Picturebook

  • Produce an easy to use, illustrated Picturebook with preferred development checklists encouraging practices that least impact the Bull Creek Watershed.

    Picturebook topics could include:

    1. Options for energy and water conservation and use of recycled and local building materials,
    2. Rural development guidelines for areas such as the Old Spicewood Springs Corridor,
    3. Preferred water quality containment and treatment methods,
    4. Preferred styles of architecture and materials in scenic areas and within critical viewsheds,
    5. Recommended setbacks and treatment of set asides, "open spaces", and habitat / recreation corridors in developments, and
    6. Inclusion of infrastructure supporting alternative modes of transportation and traffic calming.

    Promote Sustainable Building Practices

  • Market the Sustainable Development Picturebook and its principles to developers, planners, architects, real estate professionals and political leaders.
  • Train local interest groups and neighborhood associations in the use of the Picturebook.
    Photo: Inga VanNynatten

    4. Recreation


    To enhance the recreational opportunities in the watershed to meet future public demand, minimizing the impacts on adjacent landowners whenever possible.

    Top Issues

    • Existing parks and trails do not have adequate funds for maintenance and expansion
    • Management issues regarding Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system, such as public access and appropriate use, are unresolved due to lack of scientific knowledge about threatened species.
    • Connections are needed to complete the existing trail system.

    Prepare a Bull Creek Watershed trail plan

  • Identify locations, funding sources and priorities to complete hiking, equestrian, and biking trail links as part of a watershed-wide trail plan. The plan could also identify new mountain biking options within the Bull Creek Watershed and identify partnerships and actions to improve maintenance and security of all recreational facilities.

    Complete priority trail links

  • Complete the missing trail links in the Old Spicewood Springs Corridor, including new trails on City of Austin land (Stenis and Gardens tracts), to relieve some of the recreational pressure on existing trails and provide for recreational access across the corridor. These priority trails should be completed as funding becomes available apart from developing the watershed-wide trail plan.

    5. Habitat


    To maintain or restore viable populations of wildlife species indigenous to the watershed.

    Top Issues

  • The ability of the watershed to support an array of unique and important plants and wildlife may be at risk.
  • It is difficult to develop management strategies to protect endangered or threatened species in a rapidly developing watershed.


    Conduct a "Good Neighbor" Campaign to raise community awareness

  • Minimize the impact property owners have on wildlife and the environment by reaching out to people who live adjacent to preserve lands, greenbelts, parks, springs, caves, and waterways. This campaign would raise awareness of the special responsibility that goes along with living next to an environmentally sensitive area.

    Components include:
    1. A Balcones Canyonlands Preserve endangered species educational program,
    2. Public recognition and publicity for good residential and commercial examples (This program could be combined with city incentives to reward positive actions), and
    3. Informing and updating the public through the Bull Creek Foundation website and newsletter.

    Photo: Erik Bliss

    Initiate a Habitat Restoration Demonstration Project

  • Encourage the improvement of wildlife habitat and biodiversity by restoring to viability a tract of land whose habitat value has been significantly reduced.
  • Develop educational signs and materials for the public. Potential sites for such a project include parks, school grounds, and public properties. Participate in the Jollyville Salamander Workgroup
  • Work cooperatively with this group that was established to examine the biological status of the Jollyville Salamander, to evaluate its habitat, and to explore options to reduce threats to this rare species.

    About this project / Action Plan
    On August 15, 1998 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded The Bull Creek Foundation a Sustainability Challenge Grant to help fund a multi-objective planning process. The goal of this project was to identify and address the most pressing issues involving water quality, trails and recreation, habitat and species protection, and sustainable development throughout the 32 square mile, environmentally sensitive, Bull Creek Watershed.

    Through a process consisting of stakeholder meetings and public workshops, the planning team developed the objectives and actions summarized in this document. Thanks to the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program for leading and participating in our planning process!

    The Bull Creek Foundation would like to thank the following Planning Team participants:

    The Residents of the Bull Creek Watershed

    American Institute of Architects, Austin Chapter
    American Institute of Learning
    Austin History Center
    Bosse and Compton
    Carter Burgess
    City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department
    City of Austin Planning Department
    City of Austin Public Works and Transportation Department
    City of Austin Watershed Protection Department
    Lower Colorado River Authority
    Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission
    Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
    Travis County
    University of Texas School of Architecture and Planning

    Printed on 100% recycled stock with soy ink.
    Editor: Erik Bliss, Bull Creek Foundation
    Page layout by Inga VanNynatten and Tomás Rodríguez, National Park Service. Art by Tomás Rodríguez.

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