Volunteers Revitalize Waller Creek

Students Planting Natives by Waller Creek 2017

Soapberry, bald-cypress, Durand oak, Eve’s necklace: this November, a group of 30 University of Texas at Austin staff and volunteers gathered at the edge of Clark Field to plant native trees and shrubs along the Waller Creek corridor. The event was part of the ongoing restoration of the campus’ urban wilderness and celebrated the 10th year of commitment to Tree Campus USA.

“UT Austin has a decade of recognized tree care, the longest standing in the state,” said Urban Forestry Supervisor Jennifer Hrobar.

Hrobar and other members of UT’s landscaping crew prepared for the event by finding and flagging ideal spots that combined the right amount of light and water for two dozen different plant species. Most of the new additions—grown from seeds harvested on campus and germinated at The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center—replace recently removed invasive species like chinaberry and ligustrum.

“Since June 2016, we have been focusing efforts on increasing safety in Waller Creek by opening sight lines while also improving the riparian corridor, fixing soil erosion and planting native species,” said Jim Carse, manager of Landscape Services.

After demonstrating the best way to plant a tree—as well as how to avoid poison ivy—Carse summed up a speech to volunteers with a final quip: “I am glad you are all here, but I hope you are not skipping class since we cannot give out notes for this!”

Volunteers spent about two hours digging holes to plant about 100 trees, shrubs and grasses.  All of the native plants will help stabilize the western bank of the creek and provide nesting and food for local wildlife.

Bridget Blizzard, Associate Director of Facilities Services, spoke a few last words to the volunteers. “There has been a significant amount of work in Waller Creek to replace invasive species with a healthy environment and sustainable plant life. You are making a difference. This is huge.”

Check out more images of the Waller Creek Planting here.

Volunteers and landscape staff ready to plant trees in Waller Creek.  Credit: K. Phillips

Author: Kristin Elise Phillips, Communications Coordinator, Office of Sustainability