AUSTIN (KXAN) — Meteorologist Sean Kelly spoke to Leslie Lilly, the conservation director of the trail foundation, about how well the famous hike and bike trail faired during out historic winter storm.
The Trail Foundation is a Central Texas nonprofit that maintains the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake. The trail sees as much as 15,000 people a day taking advantage of the 10-mile length for leisure or recreation purposes. Leslie of course was concerned with the forecasted storm ahead of time, but luckily they were able to prepare.
Normally with a storm, especially one that was anticipated to bring a lot of precipitation with it, there would be major concern of flooding and erosion of the trail. However, in the past couple of years, the trail foundation has worked really hard to implement a program of installing green storm water infrastructure that is in the form of rain gardens, which are able to capture storm water runoff so we have less erosive events. So the trail had very minimal erosion from this specific event because of preventive actions the foundation took.
This historic storm did have a decent impact on the wildlife and vegetation around the trail.
“You see some browning and damage to the leaves, but the roots itself were protected,” Lilly mentioned, talking about the sprouting live oak trees. Luckily the six inches of snow pack actually benefitted growing trees and plants, because it actually acted as an insulator and barrier protecting the plant’s roots from being damaged by the sub-freezing, dangerous temperatures. So aside from some minimal leaf and stem damage, the majority of these growing plants survived the storm.
One good thing that occurred actually because of our winter storm is that it killed off any insects and parasites that could have potentially harmed any tree that was vulnerable — such as the many broken tree limbs found around the trail from the heavy weight of the snow and ice.