Hamilton Greenbelt Wildfire Fuels Reduction Project
In October 2019, the annual budget approved by Lakeway City Council included $350,000 for a massive wildfire fuel reduction project in Hamilton Greenbelt. The entire project is expected to last 18 months or more. The goal is to reduce wildfire intensity in the greenbelt by removing dead wood throughout the entire greenbelt and installing shaded fuel breaks in strategic areas behind homes.
The majority of the work will be performed by contract work crews, but volunteer groups have joined the immense cleanup effort. The Cavalier Chapter of Young Men’s Service League led the way by selecting the Hamilton Greenbelt project for their 2019 Ultimate Gift. The energetic group hauled and dragged 17 tons of wood out of Hamilton Greenbelt II during a series of four workdays in November and December 2019. They also delivered printed information on how to protect homes from wildfire to 117 homes around the greenbelt. The YMSL was recognized for their contribution at the January 21, 2020 City Council meeting with a proclamation by Mayor Sandy Cox.
On February 29, twenty-six volunteers from River of the Hills church youth group dragged 1 - 1/2 tons out of the steeply sloped trails on Hamilton Greenbelt II. That same group has volunteered to return to Hamilton Greenbelt once a month to drag more brush, but unfortunately those plans have been put on hold with the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders.
Elmer Tyler and Dave Cross, Lakeway’s own Chainsaw Champions since 2013, cut dead wood and brush into smaller pieces near the Lohmans Crossing Road entrance of Hamilton Greenbelt I to prepare for an influx of youthful volunteers in March. They also pruned low-hanging branches to reduce the risk that eye-level branches could injure volunteers. The Chainsaw Champions’ many years of experience and attention to safety have been a huge benefit to Lakeway.
Lake Travis Middle School and Bee Cave Middle School offered their yearly Day of Service on March 12 to support the Hamilton Greenbelt project. Two hundred young volunteers worked around the main entrance of Hamilton Greenbelt dragging cut brush and logs to chippers. When they ran out of brush close to the chipper they dragged dead brush downhill near the main trail, building a long low pile to be picked up by a bobcat. Four hundred hands make for speedy work and they accomplished a lot in a very short time!
The COVID-19 crisis has shut down the volunteer workdays for the time being, but wildfire fuel reduction is still considered to be essential work to protect Lakeway homeowners from wildfire.
Lake Travis Fire Rescue’s wildland fuels reduction crew worked from March through July in Hamilton Greenbelt I. Work is now suspended until autumn, when additional contract crews will be hired to continue the project. LTFR’s crew will return in January 2020 to tackle the less accessible parts of Hamilton Greenbelt II.
For more information about this project and other wildfire-related issues in Lakeway, please email Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Chris Rea or call him at 512-645-5840.