AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earth Day is stretching into Earth Week, according to the staff at the Hill Country Conservancy.
The conservancy has put on an event every night this week, and volunteer activities are open into the weekend.
On Wednesday, the conservancy hosted local blues and Americana musician Johnny Nicholas at the Yeti flagship store on South Congress Avenue. On Thursday, attendees gathered for “An Evening in Green,” a ball at the Brodie Homestead dedicated to celebrating conservation in Central Texas.
Friday night’s event is a Pop Up Park during the Old Settler’s Music Festival at Salt Lick. It’s billed as a chance for people to reconnect with the great outdoors, featuring lawn games and relaxing hammocks.
The conservancy’s purpose is to preserve the land of the Hill Country for generations to come. The organization started in late 1999. It’s a non-profit that raises most of its money through donors, along with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
George Cofer, executive director of the Hill Country Conservancy, wants to spread awareness to people in the Austin metro that can see major benefits — sometimes without realizing it — from the organization.
“Water’s the big topic now. So by preserving those lands in the Hill Country, it keeps Texas streams clean and clear.” Working to minimize light pollution helps keep the skies dark and starry at night, too. “We have dark skies at night, we have cleaner water, we have cleaner air… so there are a lot of public benefits, even though much of that land is privately owned.”
There are also educational opportunities for all types: “We host gatherings where it’s a very academic day, where students and teachers get together on the land to study the ecology…We take Boy Scouts and Texas youth hunting and all kinds of trail rides, birding tours, to really educate people about the Hill Country and about nature.”
The conservancy’s newest project will impact hundreds of thousands of people: it’s the Violet Crown Trail, which will be a 30-mile hike and bike trail that begins at Zilker Park and stretches into north Hays County. The trail will be open to the public, and is expected to be finished in late 2018. Eight of the 30 miles are already finished.
The trail expansion directly impacts people like Mercedes Newman, who walks on the trail near Zilker Park at least once a week with her dog Finn. She wants to “encourage everyone to use the trails, because the more that people hike on the trails, the more they’re aware of the beauty.”
She also “can’t think of any other city in Texas that has anything comparable to the network of trails, and it’s just wonderful that it’s expanding.”
To find out how to get involved with this weekend’s Hill Country Conservancy’s Earth Week events, check out their website.