Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Trail Evaluation Planning Process for Balcones Canyonlands Regional Habitat Conservation Plan Completed
Southwest Region, December 2, 2008
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The final meeting of the Trail Master Planning process for the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) was held in Austin on December 2, 2008. The meeting culminated a stakeholder process which began on April 1, 2007.  The purpose of the process was to develop a master plan for considering more trail use on preserve lands for this regional habitat conservation plan.  The process was started at the direction of the Coordinating Committee for the BCCP in response to complaints by constituents that too little public access was being allowed on the preserve lands. The Coordinating Committee's direction to City of Austin staff was to consider additional trails and trail use in that portion of the preserve  preserve owned by the City of Austin that would not trigger a Permit amendment. 

The BCCP is a regional habitat conservation plan for Travis County covering two listed songbirds (golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo), 6 cave invertebrates, and 27 unlisted species of concern.  The Permit is jointly held by the City of Austin and Travis County.  The total preserve size is currently more than 28,000 acres, with the City of Austin acontrolling about 13,500 acres. 

The stakeholders were a diverse group of trail users; neighborhood associations; conservation groups; other BCCP partners and land managers; and a Service representative, who served as an advisor.  During a series of 16 meetings, the group heard presentations from a variety of experts on the HCP, species and habitats involved, impacts of trail use, and a variety of management issues. 

All individual tracts of land owned managed by the City of Austin in the preserve system were discussed separetely, and the group came up with recommendations for uses.  The group's final recommendations were consistent with the requirements of the HCP and Permit.  Any new trails are designed to avoid habitat or replace existing, approved trails.

The process was long, but it provided a much greated understanding of the limitations and complexities for managing the BCCP preserve lands to all patrticipants.  The final action of will involve delivering a written plan to the Coordinating Committee in January.



Contact Info: Bill Seawell, 512 490-0057, bill_seawell@fws.gov
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