Barton Creek Greenbelt, other Austin parks closed due to flooding

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several City of Austin parks, including the Barton Creek Greenbelt, are closed as a result of rain and flooding over the past week. 

Sunday morning, the Austin Parks & Recreation Department posted to social media that park employees and Austin Police patrol units checked out the Barton Creek Greenbelt and “flooded trails and dangerously fast currents at Hill of Life Dam & Twin Falls, and downed trees/ debris throughout the Barton Creek Greenbelt.”

The city said that the Barton Creek Greenbelt remains closed Sunday, but will be reassessed Monday morning. 

On Saturday, the Parks Department announced they would be closing Red Bud Isle Park after LCRA opened floodgates at the nearby Tom Miller Dam. 

KXAN went out to the entrances to some of these closed parks and saw many people still entering. 

A PARD spokesperson explained that while they have rangers patrolling telling people the greenbelt is closed, some people choose to ignore the sings and safety messaging. 

“We are charged with ensuring park user safety and close facilities with public safety in mind,” the spokesperson said, noting that the trail closures are not just to protect people’s immediate safety, but also to prevent erosion on the trail. 

“It takes all of Austin working together to keep our parks safe and sustainable for future generations,” he added. 

While some on the trail Sunday knowingly ignored barriers into the park, others wound up on the trail without realizing it was closed. 

Fred Hart was on a bike ride from South Austin when he entered through the Violet Crown trail and wound up on the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail. After hitting a low water crossing on the trail, he and his biking partner left the trail to try and find a new route. 

“The rocks are really slippery right now, so some of the spots where you might walk across the cliffsides are really treacherous,” he explained.

Hart — who likes to go cycling daily — remains hopeful that the sun will start to dry out the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail soon. 

“With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, I’ve probably been getting a little claustrophobic at home,” he explained. 

The Parks Department asks those going to Austin’s parks to observe closures, they say the list of closures on their website is up to date. 

The closed city parks which appear to have been impacted by this recent round of severe weather include:

  • Barton Creek Greenbelt
    • Closed on May 8, 2019 due to trail erosion and swift creek currents. 
  • Ann & Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
    • Closed on May 6, 2019.  The hike and bike trail experienced erosion due to the rain. PARD says the trail has partially reopened and people using it should avoid barricaded, closed, and flooded areas. 
  • Barton Springs Pool
    • Closed May 5, 2019. Closed due to flooding. See video of the flooding last week here. For those still looking to take a dip, PARD says that Deep Eddy Pool will open at 6:00 a.m. daily for morning swimmers. 
  • Red Bud Isle & Trail
    • Closed May 11, 2019. This trail was closed due to flooding conditions from water released at Tom Miller Dam. 
  • The Shoal Creek Trail
    • Closed on May 4, 2018 after a landslide. This past week, the Watershed Protection Department said that Wednesday, the severe weather sent more of the slope sliding down. The city is working to stabilize the hill, but the landslide last week prevented crews from working. PARD anticipates the end of construction on the trail by early 2020 if everything falls into place.  

Waterway bans

Swift water flows have shut down the upper part of Lake Austin from Mansfield dam to Commons Ford Park and the lower part of Tom  Miller dam to Walsh Boat Landing. 

Lady Bird Lake is closed entirely. 

All commercial boating is banned, with the exception of motorized commercial watercrafts with a length of 40 feet or more on Lake Austin between Walsh Boat Landing and the Loop 360 Bridge. 

The waterway ban, issued by Austin Fire Chief Joel Baker, is in effect until noon on Wednesday when the fire department can re-assess the water levels. 

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