Abstract: Session C  9:45 am (Back to Session C)
Accommodating Use and Enjoyment with Ecological Function: A Blanco River Restoration Demonstration Site

Ryan McGillicuddy
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
San Marcos, TX

Author: Ryan McGillicuddy (TPWD), John Hart Asher (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center), Michelle Bertelsen (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)

Land ownership along the Blanco River has become increasingly fragmented as regional population densities increase, with residential parcels often constituting 200 feet or less of riverfront. Near the communities of Blanco and Wimberley much of the land along the river has been converted from riparian forest to manicured parkland, lacking diversity and resiliency. The Blanco River floods of 2015 severely impacted these communities and the riparian landscape, damaging 1,468 homes and uprooting an estimated 12,000 trees.

Prior to the flooding, the riverfront at the Jackaroo Ranch Bed and Breakfast was fairly representative of land management practices in the area; mature cypress trees towering over St. Augustine grass mowed to the water’s edge. The property lost nearly every riparian tree in the 2015 flooding and experienced significant scour and erosion. TPWD initiated a partnership with the landowner and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to develop a conservation demonstration site at the property, with the goal of informing the community how flood affected landscapes can be restored to a more resilient state that allows for use and enjoyment while also providing ecological and physical functions. The restoration design was based on the principles outlined in the Blanco River Design Guidelines, a publication developed by the LBJWC in partnership with TPWD. Practices at the site have included: native plant seeding and installation; extensive tree plantings; contouring scour zones into bioswales; invasive species control; assimilation of woody debris and root wads into site design; soil compaction remediation for seep restoration; and installation of habiturf for targeted access areas.