Wildfire mitigation effort showing continued progress in Lakeway

Lakeway City Forester Carrie Burns said Dec. 9 that so far four work days have been completed on the project. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway City Forester Carrie Burns said Dec. 9 that so far four work days have been completed on the project. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lakeway City Forester Carrie Burns said Dec. 9 that so far four work days have been completed on the project. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lakeway staff updated City Council on an ongoing wildfire prevention effort that has been prioritized by officials and involves a weighty volunteer presence, including a deal with a student group from the Lake Travis area called the Young Men’s Service League.

Lakeway City Forester Carrie Burns said Dec. 9 that so far four work days have been completed on the project.

“What you’re looking at is one and three quarters dumpsters filled [during those four workdays],” Burns said of the amount of fuel, or wood, removed from the Hamilton Greenbelt, which is the first portion of the city being worked on.

Burns added that so far, the 341 volunteer hours spent during the first four work days of the project amount to a savings to the city of $8,672.

As the effort moves forward, Burns said staff will need to focus on attaining better metrics on how much work and resources will be required to complete the work on the Hamilton Greenbelt.


“Once we have that, then perhaps we’ll have a better idea of how to estimate what our next steps are in the Hamilton Greenbelt,” she said, adding a likely completion time for the first part of the project would be early November.

Information from the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal shows that area to be at “high to very high” risk of wildfire.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue is providing additional crews for the project that is underwritten by the city's funding allocation for the project, but council also discussed tapping into the Lake Travis ISD student body as another possible volunteer stream in spring 2020, as many will still need to fulfill community service hours required for them to graduate.

Council Member Laurie Higginbotham announced Oct. 21 that the city of Lakeway had partnered with the Cavaliers chapter of the Young Men's Service League. The YMSL, which was formed in 2015 and draws the majority of its members from Lake Travis High School students and their mothers, has made helping with the wildfire prevention effort in Lakeway's Hamilton Greenbelt its main project for the 2019-20 school year. City documents state the YMSL will complete its commitment to the project by the weekend of Dec. 14.

The wildfire prevention effort in Lakeway has proven a topic of major import for the city in recent months. As part of the fiscal year 2019-20 Lakeway budget, City Council made a $350,000 transfer to the city’s wildfire mitigation capital fund.

Relevant funds came from the public safety bond fund, which held leftover monies from Lakeway’s new $23 million police department building.

During the Dec. 9 discussion, council also took steps toward applying for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Andra Bennett, the director of parks and recreation for Lakeway, said FEMA has an extensive repository for funding these kinds of projects, but the process is lengthy, and council guidance would be needed to proceed.

Bennett said FEMA will not allow applicants to apply for a grant in an area already being worked on, so council voted to keep working on the Hamilton Greenbelt with the $350,000 already allocated and to explore options regarding pursuit of the grant to fund other areas of the city planned for the wildfire mitigation effort, including the possibility of hiring a grant writer on a contract basis.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.


MOST RECENT

Photo of ACL Fest
Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

As part of budget action, Lakeway adopted a lower tax rate from the prior year. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Lakeway City Council approves FY 2021-22 budget

As part of budget action, Lakeway adopted a lower tax rate from the prior year.

Austin city staff and officials are pursuing additional protections related to mold issues in rental housing. (Courtesy city of Austin)
City pursuing improvements to handling of Austin renters' mold complaints

New recommendations from a report launched in the wake of Winter Storm Uri detail adjustments Austin could make to its mold response.

Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin head in for their first day of school Aug. 17. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD's COVID-19 rate lower than nearby districts after first month of school

Austin ISD recorded more cases in the first month of this school year than in all of the 2020-2021 school year. Still, Austin ISD saw a lower percentage of cases in students than surrounding school districts.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; fire kills 75 dogs in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

School in the Hills has two locations in the Lake Travis-Westlake area. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)
Guide: Private schools in the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Learn about tuition and extracurriculars offered at area private schools.

Screen shot of Dr. Desmar Walkes speaking
Austin ICUs remain crowded with COVID-19 patients, delaying some critical care

Within the past week, there was a waiting list of patients to be transferred into Austin-area ICUs, Austin Public Health leaders said.

The city of Austin this summer cleared four unregulated homeless encampments and shifted dozens of residents into shelters. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house thousands of Austin's homeless people taking shape, but outlook for local success, project funding still unclear

The strategy's first housing benchmark fell short in June, and updates on how the estimated $515 million needed for housing and services will be spent are overdue.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

BoxLunch opened Aug. 27 in Barton Creek Square at 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Austin. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)
New dining, clothing retailers now open or coming soon to the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Along with new retailers, area residents now have new health care providers from which to choose.

The widening project is on track to finish this fall and the bypass project by early next year. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
TxDOT projects near RM 2222 and RM 620 intersection approaching completion after delay

The southbound bypass lane connecting the two roads is on track to be complete later this fall, weather permitting. The northbound bypass lane opened over the summer.