Man maintains East Austin nature reserve on his own

AUSTIN, Texas – As people continue to settle in Texas and cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas face rapid growth and development, maintaining green spaces in these urban areas becomes more important. than ever.

What would you like to know

  • Eric Paulus maintains Circle Acres nature reserve in East Austin
  • The reserve is 10 acres and is home to 1,300 animal species
  • The area was a landfill before the involvement of the Texas nonprofit environmental action
  • Plans include an on-site classroom for environmental education

In the heart of East Austin, the Circle Acres Nature Preserve provides the community with nearly 10 acres of native forest and trails that provide a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, and through the work of Green Nonprofit Action. lucrative in Texas, it has become one of the most biodiverse areas in all of Austin.

But maintaining the 10-acre natural habitat is no small feat, and one man is determined to preserve it for generations to come.

“We have documented over 1,800 species in the park and over 1,300 on circle acres alone,” said Eric Paulus, director of Ecology Action of Texas.

But Circle Acres Nature Preserve wasn’t always the thriving wildlife preserve it is today.

“In the 1960s, the city would take their municipal waste to Circle Acres and burn it in that field and on top of that,” Paulus said.

The land spent decades as a brownfield site, landfill, and dump, before the Texas nonprofit Green Action got involved and environmental clean-up and restoration began.

“We took like, what was the most polluted property in this area and converted it over 15 years and thousands of volunteer efforts into something really meaningful for the people who live here but also for the wildlife that lives here, ”Paulus said. “It’s actually one of the 10 most biodiverse acres in Austin at this point.”

Today, as director and sole employee of the association, Paulus is responsible for the maintenance of the entire reserve.

“I have always loved plants. So being able to take care of nature and work on growth, to grow a forest is actually quite a privilege, ”said Paulus.

But it is a huge responsibility.

He single-handedly leads projects such as the restoration of native plants in the park.

“This is a poplar. And we have a pretty sturdy cage and an irrigation bag. So the cage will prevent deer and wild pigs from devouring the tree until it becomes established, ”Paulus said.

He also maintains all of the trails and continually seeks grants to keep the nonprofit organization and keep it funded.

“Some big long-term plans that are hopefully starting to materialize [include] build an environmental education classroom at the site and get solar panels so that we can actually have electricity for a few things at the site, ”said Paulus.

But perhaps his biggest passion project is awareness and education.

“The idea is to help teach environmental stewardship to a new generation and give them practical opportunities to learn and participate in this process. We’re in the middle of the onset of a major climate crisis that’s going to, you know, span our entire lifespan, and we have a responsibility to turn things around and make efforts to fix things, ”Paulus said.

An effort in which we can all participate.

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