Project Type: Fish and Wildlife Management
Scout Name: Jonathan H.
Unit: Troop 399 Austin, Texas
Project Location: Sunken Garden Springs, Austin.
Partner Oranization: City of Austin, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Completion date: June 3, 2006
My project involved protecting the habitat of the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, a culturally and environmentally important part of Austin. In this way, I helped conserve in an environmental way, as well as a cultural way. I also helped to get others interested in conservation efforts, and through much publication, my message got to people all across Central Texas.
I researched and was guided by several professional conservationalists. These mentors helped me through the process of discovering and using Best Conservation Practices. I picked a practice that involved the least construction and damage to the environment by minimalizing building structures that were not made out of natural materials. I also pulled sediment-causing concrete blocks out of the springs area that were affecting salamander breeding habits. I dug a trench to create a run-off pathway so that the run-off did not go into the springs and stir up the water. I got rocks from another neighboring spring and used them to create a natural retaining wall for erosion control. Finally, I punched out holes in a concrete retaining wall to allow for a more natural flow of run-off water that would not damage the structural integrity of the walls. I came to the conclusions that these were my best choices for run-off and sediment reduction by talking to professionals that worked for the city and by discussing the issues with a biologist.
I was helped and guided by the City of Austin Watershed Protection and Development Review Department, represented by Joseph G. Pantalion, the Director of the program who helped by promoting and publicizing the event; Laurie Dries, a Barton Springs Salamander Specialist who guided me along the way and helped me with my Best Conservation Practice decisions; supported by the Mayor, Will Wynn who publicized the project; supported by the US Fish and Wildlife, represented by Dale Hall, the Southwest Regional Director who gave their support and commendation of the project; Texas Parks and Wildlife, represented by the Executive Director, Robert L. Cook who also gave their support; and mentored by the man who discovered the salamander, David Hillis.
For my Public Education Component, I created a screenplay to be used for an educational video for the salamander and Barton Springs. The screenplay contains tips about how to help protect the aquifer, and it also gives an overview of the salamander. This screenplay will be turned into a video by the Splash! Program of the City to be shown to kids and adults all across Central Texas and to educate them about the salamanders, aquifers, and watershed protection. See attached.
There was a lot of press coverage for my project, with a total of 4 separate news stations—KXAN, KVUE, FOX, and News 8—covering the project a total of 6 times. KXAN covered the initial project, and then Jim Swift Out on the Porch, a member of the KXAN News Team, did a follow up special. All four News Stations came out to the award ceremony and each station ran the story that afternoon and evening. Mayor Will Wynn also gave me a personal commendation and Distinguished Service Award at the Springs on behalf of Austin. I also received a commendation and Certificate of Appreciation from the Watershed Department of Austin, the US Fish and Wildlife, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife. See Attached.
The project required the help of many people from the community. Not only were they educated about the history and habitat of the salamander; they were educated about the needs for environmental protection of the salamander. These people, as well as all of the people who watched spots about the project on TV, will hopefully continue to help and support environment and salamander related causes. Also, the screenplay I wrote will be shown constantly at the Splash! Exhibit at Barton Springs and will also be mailed out to schools and groups that are interested in learning more about the salamander or watershed to provide guidance about the impact of conservation to thousands of kids in Central Texas every year. I will work in cooperation with Laurie Dries to find other scouts that can continue the improvement of the Barton Springs area through service and Hornaday Projects.