Volunteers come together to clean up Lady Bird Lake

Katrina Tollin

Lady Bird Lake received a makeover Saturday morning at the Keep Austin Beautiful volunteer cleanup day.

Keep Austin Beautiful organized six different cleanup sites around the lake. More than 200 volunteers collected trash either on the 10-mile hike-and-bike trail or on the water in boats, kayaks and paddleboards.

Trash accumulates on the shoreline after heavy rains, as well as on trails and parkland during nice weather when the park areas are more heavily trafficked, said Felix Padron, Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s park grounds supervisor.

Floating barriers trap some trash before it enters the lake, and both the Watershed Protection Department and the Parks and Recreation Department have crews that work to clean and maintain the trails, banks and waterways, Padron said.

“What [the volunteers] are offering is more manpower,” he said.

The majority of the trash in and around the lake arrives from one of the nine area watersheds, each associated with a different creek. Trash that ends up in storm drains and creeks will eventually find its way to Lady Bird Lake, said Jessica Wilson, Keep Austin Beautiful’s community programs manager.

“You can’t go to one of these cleanups and come away thinking the same way about plastic and Styrofoam,” Wilson said. “The lessons that people learn go a lot deeper, hopefully changing their habits overall and making them better stewards.”

UT history professor Leonard Moore brought his three young children to the cleanup.
He said they came to give back a little bit, spend some time outdoors and try to make an impact cleaning up.

Keep Austin Beautiful repeats the cleanup effort every two months, with volunteers usually collecting about 2,000 pounds of trash at each cleanup, Wilson said.

“It’s an amazing city and the more people that take ownership of their little piece, the better it’s going to be for everybody,” said Austin park ranger Jim Stewart.