Barton Creek

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For other uses, see Barton Creek (disambiguation).
Barton Creek
BartonSprings 1900 USGS.jpg
Barton Creek in 1900[1]
Country  United States
State  Texas
Region Texas Hill Country
Municipality Austin
Source Hays County, Texas
 - elevation 380 m (1,247 ft)
 - coordinates 30°14′22.87″N 98°9′10.4″W / 30.2396861°N 98.152889°W / 30.2396861; -98.152889
Mouth Colorado River (Texas)
 - location Lady Bird Lake
 - elevation 130 m (427 ft)
 - coordinates 30°16′1.46″N 97°45′40.63″W / 30.2670722°N 97.7612861°W / 30.2670722; -97.7612861Coordinates: 30°16′1.46″N 97°45′40.63″W / 30.2670722°N 97.7612861°W / 30.2670722; -97.7612861
Length 64 km (40 mi)
 - average 1.84 m3/s (65 cu ft/s)
Barton creek watershed in Travis County

Barton Creek is a tributary that feeds the Colorado River as it flows through the Texas Hill Country. The creek passes through some of the more scenic areas in Greater Austin and forms a greenbelt that is the habitat for many indigenous species of flora and fauna, including at least seven endangered species of plants.[2]

The creek begins in northern Hays County and flows 40 miles (64 km) east through Austin to Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake), where it merges with the Colorado River. The creek falls into the fissure of the Edwards Aquifer in southwest Austin and reemerges at Barton Springs. During rainy seasons, upper Barton Creek hosts water recreation including kayaking, tubing, and swimming. The Lower Barton Creek Greenbelt features these water sports year-round with swimming in Barton Springs Pool, and kayaking and caneoing in the creek fed with the discharge from the springs.

History and conservation[edit]

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Barton Creek was believed to host Tonkawa and Comanche Indian camps.

The creek is named for William Barton, who built a house near Barton Springs in 1837.[2] The springs quickly became a popular resort, and its swimming hole was replaced with a pool some time during the 1930s.

Development in Austin in the 1970s and 1980s began to threaten both the creek's water quality and wildlife. Heavy rainfall often caused pools at the springs to close due to contamination from runoff and sewer lines, the effluent of the affluent upstream subdivisions entering the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone which feeds the springs. Following public outcry, the Austin City Council passed the Barton Creek watershed ordinance in 1980 and the Comprehensive Watersheds Ordinance in 1986. Proposals in 1990 to develop land in the watershed resulted in more public outcry which spurred passage of the Save Our Springs Citizens' Initiative of 1992, which severely limited construction, curtailed tax exemptions, established pollution control standards and implemented methods for reducing accidental contamination.

Barton Creek also fronts the Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, a 4,100-acre (17 km2) habitat maintained by local residents and the Nature Conservancy. The reserve is home to old-growth stands of juniper, oak, cedar and elm trees, rare woodland flowers and plants such as Heller's marbleseed and gravelbar brickellbush, endangered golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos, and the threatened Guadalupe bass.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hill, R.T. 1901. Geography and geology of the Black and Grand Prairies, Texas with detailed descriptions of the Cretaceous formations and special reference to artesian waters. In: Walcott, C.D. (Director), Twenty-First Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior (1899-1900), Part VII-Texas, Washington: Government Printing Office, 662 pp.
  2. ^ a b Anonymous. "Barton Creek". Handbook of Texas. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Anonymous. "Barton Creek Habitat Preserve Fact Sheet" (PDF). Nature Conservancy. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 

External links[edit]