December 3rd, 2003
Save Blunn Creek

photo: Blunn Creek
Mid-1980s. JQS plays in a flooded Blunn Creek after a summer storm. Increased amounts impermeable ground cover, like the parking lot of the condos where we lived, result in a certain amount of flooding after every rain, even twenty years ago.

What kid can resist the lure of water? When my son was a child, we lived on the banks of Blunn Creek. Only three years had passed since Austin had raised the money to create a nature preserve from the Storm tract, forty acre. between St. Edward’s University and Travis High School. Since we had no yard of our own, we used to take walks there in what seemed like our own private wilderness. We saw rabbits! I bought my first Texas wildflower identification book because the wealth of flowers I saw made me aware that there was a lot more to outdoors than a clipped lawn. Not that we even had that. Blunn Creek Preserve and the two Stacy Parks (Big and Little) were the only places for us condo dwellers to play outside.

Fast-forward twenty years. Wal-Mart is set to build another super-center. There’s no stopping that, but part of their plan calls for rezoning a section of land that feeds into the Blunn Creek headwaters and thus is integral to the health of the Blunn Creek and the nature preserve. What do we need to preserve? The three springs that feed Blunn Creek. The warm springs that create Stacy Pool. Water that flows into Town Lake, into your drinking water.

As the largest company in the world Wal-Mart could easily be a leader in green building rather than a unwilling participant. If they spent a fraction of the money they spend on their various ad campaigns, they could generate some genuine goodwill in the community.

Blunn Creek is threatened. The local neighborhood association (SRCC) organized a rally today to send a message to the Austin City Council, to all the citizens of Austin, to Wal-Mart and it’s stock holders: “Don’t destroy what you can never regain.”

Until 2001, only 3.36 acres of the 125-acre Blunn Creek headwaters watershed was occupied by buildings. Roads covered an additional 14.68 acres and 107 acres were pervious. In just the last two years, Home Depot and Blunn Creek Apartment construction on Woodward almost doubled impervious acreage in this headwaters watershed by adding an additional 18.22 acres…The proposed Wal-Mart will add 18 acres of impervious cover to support a 207,5 square foot superstore. The proposed impervious cover will occupy approximately 78% of the total 23 acre site. Parking islands, flood detention, and sand filtration water quality control will occupy an additional 3.49 acres. Only 1.67 acres, or 7% of the site, will remain in a natural undeveloped condition. When construction of the Wal-Mart site is completed, imperviousness will cover 57 acres the headwaters subwatershed, or 46%. The effect of these changes will be to permanently and significantly impair Blunn Creek base flow, erosion, and water quality…”

Read the entire report. (Download pdf).

photo: Blunn Creek
The preservation of our creeks concerns both young and old. Today’s rally at Blunn Creek.

photo: Blunn Creek
Thirty years of fighting for the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve.

by M Sinclair Stevens

3 Responses to post “Save Blunn Creek”

  1. From rantor (Austin):

    What a beautiful tribute to Blunn Creek–thank you! Even this past year, we’ve seen gray foxes and great blue herons in the most populated part of Stacy Park.

    Well, Rantor, I owe my thanks to you. If it hadn’t been for the entries you posted on Rantomat, I wouldn’t have even known about the rally. I figured you were there, but I didn’t know who you might be…I felt a little odd going around asking people, “Are you Rantor by any chance? Hi. I’m mss @ Zanthan Gardens.” — mss

  2. From James:

    What do you think about Wal-Mart’s proposal to build its new shopping center with environmental care?

    If Wal Mart builds its store in an environmentally friendly way, are you and Blunn Creek supporters OK with it. Myself, I don’t like Wal Mart at all…

    James, I think that Wal-Mart’s willingness to negotiate issues with the SRCC is a step in the right direction. But as I said, it would be better if they took a leadership role, rather than a defensive role.

    And the city and the local news media should take a more active, investigative role as well. I had a difficult time finding any information on the issue–and had it not been for stumbling across the info at Rantomat, I would have known nothing about what was in the works. I was extremely disappointed in the Statesman’s lack of coverage on the matter on the whole, and unhappy with its couching the issue in its “Wal-Mart: Love It Hate It” story.

    This rally was not about hating Wal-Mart. It was about loving Blunn Creek. The people at the rally were not trying to stop Wal-Mart from being built; that is a given. What we were trying to do is to get Wal-Mart to be aware of the environmental impact of its design and alter it in ways to suit this particular site. Pave over the headwaters and the springs will dry up. It’s not an either/or deal. Wal-Mart can be built and the springs saved at the same time. There are way to reduce the impact of new development. And Wal-Mart is not the only threat to Blunn Creek, Stacy Pool and the two Stacy Parks–just the latest.

    I no longer live along Blunn Creek, nor am I a member of the SRCC. But why should the responsibility for something that affects all Austinites be shouldered by one neighborhood group, by one small band of people who have been struggling to save this preserve for the last 30 years? Come on, people. Let’s give them a little support! — mss

  3. From elloa mathews (Austin):

    Jane Kellogg gave me the link to your site because I am looking for photos of the rally to use in our neighborhood newsletter in January. Your photos are great. Do you have more? Can we use them, of course, with your photo credit?