The floodwaters were so turbulent in a 2015 flood here that they tied this tree branch into knots.
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After the Floods, Landowners can Make a Big Difference on the Blanco
The Blanco River, with its glassy green waters, shaded banks and limestone outcroppings, is among the most beloved rivers in all of Texas. It is also a vital link in a network of rivers and aquifers that residents of Austin, San Marcos, Wimberley, San Antonio and the surrounding countryside depend on for drinking water, agriculture and recreation.
Flooding is part of the Blanco’s natural process—but devastating floods, such as the 2015 Wimberley flood, can leave the Central Texas landscape scarred by uprooted trees, decimated vegetation and eroded soil.
Given the right support, nature has an incredible ability to heal itself if we let it. Below are some steps landowners can take to help facility that process.
Riverbank Restoration Do's
- Let the river heal itself – leaving natural debris and fallen or uprooted cypress, pecan and other trees intact and where they are (provided that they do not pose a safety threat) will act as a nursery for new trees and plant life. This technique will also protect the river from future floods by stabilizing the riverbank.
- Photograph and document – take photos your property at the same locations at least every six months to document the damage and recovering habitat.
- Eliminate or minimize the use of heavy equipment – the soil along the river banks is still saturated and fragile. Using heavy equipment at this point can cause irreparable damage and pose a safety risk to those operating the equipment.
- Embrace the natural look – Designate limited, small grassy areas for picnics, access to the river, and unobstructed views. Border these areas with deep-rooted native plants. Riparian vegetation is beautiful, low maintenance, and increases the stability of the river banks to better withstand future floods.
- Learn your plants – identify exotic plants, including arundo, versus native plants. Control exotic invasive plants, if possible.
- Protect new seedlings and vegetation from deer and feral hogs – cage or add temporary fencing to keep wildlife out of areas that are regenerating.
- Ask for help – use a certified arborist to clear any debris that pose a safety hazard. Connect with neighbors and local natural resource organizations to coordinate restoration strategies and share information.
The Blanco River is among the most cherished destinations in the Texas Hill Country. If we as a community can learn to love the river not just for its beauty, but for its natural ecology and processes, we can support this river as it recovers and ensure future generations are able to experience its wonder just as we have.