- Lady Bird Lake
lake_name = Lady Bird Lake
image_lake = ViewFromTownLake.jpg
type = Power plant cooling/recreational reservoir
caption_lake = View from Lady Bird Lake towards downtown Austin.
inflow = Colorado River
outflow = Colorado River
location = central Austin,
basin_countries = United States
coords = coord|30|15.9|N|97|45.5|W|type:waterbody_region:US-TX|display=inline,title
area = 468 acres (1.89 km²)
max-depth = 18 ft (5.5 m)
elevation = 428 ft (130 m)
Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) is a reservoir on the Colorado River in downtown Austin,
Texas, in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1960 by the construction of Longhorn Damat its eastern boundary by the City of Austin. The western end of the lake is bounded by Tom Miller Dam, built in 1939. The lake was created for several reasons, including the need for a cooling pond for the Holly Street Power Plant. The reservoir was also envisioned from the beginning as a recreational venue for the city. [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/TT/rot6.html "Town Lake"] . " Handbook of Texas Online".] A system of hike and bike trails was built along the shoreline of the lake in the 1970s, establishing (what was then known as) Town Lake as a major recreational attraction for the city of Austin.
July 26, 2007, the Austin City Council passed a resolution authorizing the renaming of the reservoir from Town Lake to Lady Bird Lake in honor of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Ladyof the United Statesand a long-time resident of the Austin area.Raskin, Amy (2007). [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/side/5002581.html "Austin changes Town Lake name to Lady Bird Lake"] . " Houston Chronicle". July 26, 2007.] Johnson had declined the honor of having the lake renamed for her during her life. In renaming the lake, the City Council recognized Johnson for her dedication to beautifying the lake and her efforts to create a recreational trail system around the lake's shoreline.Wilson, Janet (2007). [http://www.statesman.com/news/content/shared/news/stories/ladybird/0711ladybird.html "Lady Bird Johnson dies at 94"] . " Austin American-Statesman". July 12, 2007.]
Lady Bird Lake is the easternmost lake of a chain of reservoirs on the Colorado River. This chain, known locally as the
Texas Highland Lakes, also includes Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin.
Lady Bird Lake is a major recreation area for the city of Austin. Its banks are bounded by the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, and businesses offer recreational watercraft services along the lakefront portion of the trails. Austin's largest downtown park,
Zilker Park, is adjacent to the lake, and Barton Springs, a major attraction for swimmers, flows into the lake. Much of the landscaped beauty of the parks surrounding Lady Bird Lake can be credited to the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, who, in the 1970s, focused her attention on the Town Lake Beautification Project.Fact|date=September 2008
Stevie Ray Vaughanstatue on Lady Bird Lake.] The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridgespans the Lady Bird Lake and is home to the largest urban, Mexican Free-tailed Batcolony in North Americawith a summer population of 1.5 million bats. At dusk, from March to September, Austinites and tourists line the bridge and lakeshore to watch the dramatic sight of the bats streaming out in their nightly quest for insects. Eight other bridges span the lake, including two that are pedestrian-only bridges.Fact|date=September 2008
The City of Austin prohibits most motorized watercraft on Lady Bird Lake.Fact|date=September 2008 As a result, the lake serves as a popular recreational area for
kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and rowing shells. Austin's warm climate and the river's calm waters, nearly convert|6|mi|km|1 length and straight courses are especially popular with crew teams and clubs. Along with the University of Texaswomen's rowing team and coeducational club rowing team, who practice on Lady Bird Lake year-round, teams from northern universities (including the University of Chicago, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Nebraska) train on Lady Bird Lake during Christmasholidays and spring breaks.Fact|date=September 2008 Other water sports along the shores of the lake include swimming in Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas, and Barton Springs Pool, a natural pool on Barton Creekwhich flows into Lady Bird Lake.
Music venues on the banks of Lady Bird Lake are home to a number of events year-round, including the
Austin City Limits Music Festivalin the fall, the Austin Reggae Festivaland Spamaramain the spring, and many open-air concerts at Auditorium Shoreson the south bank and Fiesta Gardenson the north bank. The Austin Aqua Festivalwas held on the shores of Lady Bird Lake from 1962 until 1998.Fact|date=September 2008 The late Austin resident and blues guitarlegend, Stevie Ray Vaughanplayed a number of concerts at Auditorium Shoresand is honored with a memorial statue on the banks.
Hike and Bike Trail
The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, formerly the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, creates a complete circuit around Lady Bird Lake. It is one of the oldest urban
Texashike and bike paths. The trail is the longest trail designed for non-motorized traffic maintained by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and watched after by a local non-profit named Town Lake Trail Foundation.
It is convert|10.1|mi|km long and mostly flat, with 97.5% of it at less than an 8% grade. The trail's surface is smooth and is mostly crushed granite except for a few lengths of concrete and a short detour over city sidewalks on the South-side of the lake. A pedestrian bridge incorporated into the trail bridges Barton Creek. The
Roberta CrenshawPedestrian Walkway spans Lady Bird Lake beneath MoPac Boulevard and provides the trail's westmost crossing of Lady Bird Lake.
Before 1971, the shoreline of what was then called Town Lake was mostly a mixture of weeds, unkempt bushes and trash. Some concerned Austinites tried to clean up the lake, but the effort was only partly successful. In 1971, the City of Austin created the Town Lake Beautification Project and appointed
Lady Bird Johnsonas the project's honorary chairman. Johnson's involvement brought lots of attention and money (including $19,000 of her own) to the Town Lake project, allowing for the planting of hundreds of shrubs and trees and the completion of the Hike and Bike Trail from the piecemeal construction that had been done up to that time. [Wear, Ben. "Lady Bird helped turn Town Lake into town treasure". "Austin American-Statesman", July 13, 2007. pA1, A6.]
Drinking water uses
The first water treatment facility in the City of Austin, the
Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant, was built in 1925 to treat water from the Colorado River. The plant occupies six acres just west of the principal downtown business district. Since the creation of Longhorn Dam, the water treatment facility continues to treat water from Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek for distribution as drinking water throughout downtown and central Austin.City of Austin (2005). [http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/council/mw_green_treatment.htm "Mayor Will Wynn Calls For Relocation Of Green Water Treatment Plant By June 2006"] . "Press Release". Aug. 3, 2005.]
Lady Bird Lake has been stocked with several species of fish intended to improve the utility of the reservoir for recreational fishing. Fish present in Lady Bird Lake include
largemouth bass, catfish, carp, and sunfish. A ban on the consumption of fish caught in the lake was issued by the City of Austin in 1990, as a result of excessively high levels of chlordanefound in the fish.Texas Environmental Almanac . [http://www.texascenter.org/almanac/QUALITYCH2P6.HTML "Water Quality"] . "Texas Environmental Almanac". ch. 2, p. 6.] Although the use of chlordane as a pesticide was banned in the United States in 1988, the chemical sticks strongly to soil particles and can continue to pollute groundwater for years after its application. The ban on the consumption of fish caught in the lake was finally lifted in 1999.Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (1999). [http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/2000/1118/transcripts/regulations_committee/ "Regulations Committee Meeting"] . Commission meeting transcript. Nov. 17, 1999.]
* [http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/town_lake/ Texas Parks and Wildlife: Town Lake]
* [http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/trails.htm Austin Parks and Recreation Department]
* [http://www.townlaketrail.org Town Lake Trail Foundation]
* [http://www.runtex.com/townlake.htm Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail Map]
* [http://austin.smallplanetguide.com/rentals/index.php?p=town_lake_hike_and_bike_austin Austin's Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail]
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