Thursday, November 8, 2007

History of the Stenis Tract (Bull Creek WQPL)

History of this tract

This 60 acre tract of land with Bull Creek running through the middle of it is known as the Stenis Tract for it's owners Tom and Rowena Stenis and her brother Llewellyn Smith. Rowena and Llewellyn's parents Matthew Irving Smith and Hazeline Ingram Smith bought the land in 1941 for investment and recreation. Matthew was a language professor at U.T. and bought the lower part of the tract from Dorthy Duval and the upper part from Harvey Simon. The property was part of the original James Coleman survey.

The Smith and Stenis families enjoyed their creek side property for over 50 years.
In 1992 the property was put under option for construction of 355 apartments.
That drew the attention of people in the area who thought that this pristine stretch of Austin's only Northern Edwards Aquifer spring fed drinking water supply creek should be preserved. 13 area neighborhoods expressed this sentiment. Council member Ronney Reynolds assisted in actions that led to the tract remaining undeveloped. It took until the voters approved the 1998 City bond election and efforts of Council Member Beverly Griffith to see that funds were allocated to purchase this property. It was purchased in January 1999 as Water Quality Protection Land (WQPL). This is the only tract in Northwest Austin purchased as WQPL.

Volunteers from the Bull Creek Foundation participated in a public process to define public uses for City WQPL in 1999-2000, as part of an overall land management plan which was approved by City Council in late 2000.

It took until November 2005 for Bull Creek Foundation to forge an Agreement with the City to build and maintain an educational hike and bike trail at no cost to the City.

The 1.5 mile loop Matthew and Hazeline Smith Memorial hike and bike trail is now ready for public use after 2 years of work on many Saturdays by a large number of citizen volunteers, including many school groups and Scouts.

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