parks and recreation
5:00 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

City Needs Help Saving Park Trees From Drought

A tree in Bull Creek District Park
Photo by KUT News

The record drought is imperiling Austin’s trees. But the city’s Parks and Recreations Department only has about 120 employees to maintain about 15,000 acres of parkland. So the Austin Parks Foundation is hoping it can convince friendly neighbors to help its trees survive.

Their preventive measure is simple but it will require you to break a sweat: spreading mulch around the base of the tree.

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2:51 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

Help Drought Stricken Farmers: Eat Their Food

courtesy flickr.com/photos/46523905@N00/

Three-quarters of Texas is experiencing “exceptional drought”, the worst category used by the US Drought Monitor. The effect on farmers and ranchers has been profound. But a state program launching today aims to give city folk a way to help farmers and ranchers by enjoying the fruits – and meats – of their labor.

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11:55 am
Mon July 18, 2011

Chance of Tropical Rain Looks Slim

The exceptional drought could get worse with no chance of significant rainfall in the near term.
Photo by KUT News

In case you haven't noticed, it is hot, hot, hot outside and Central Texas is in need of some showers. Late July and early August are normally the driest and hottest parts of the summer, so the chance of rain is slim.

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2:21 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Water Precautions for New Schlitterbahn Park

Schitterbahn's owners expect to open a new water park in Cedar Park, like the one on Galveston Island (pictured), in 2013.
Photo coutesy Galveston.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/galvestonisland/

A new Schiltterbahn water park will open in two years in Cedar Park. It’s slated to be smaller than the New Braunfels location. Officials say plans for the park take into consideration frequent drought conditions in Central Texas, much like the region is experiencing now.

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12:16 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

What Do Stage Four Water Restrictions Mean For Fredricksburg?

Fredericksburg starts enforcing Stage Four water restrictions Thursday.
Photo by KUT News

Extreme drought conditions and continued high water usage have prompted the City of Fredericksburg to implement Stage Four water restrictions. They take effect tomorrow.

If you were wondering what that means, here are the details:

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11:40 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Drought Hurts Some Insects and Helps Others

Photo by Prashant Maxsteel http://www.flickr.com/photos/prashantmaxsteel/

The drought presents both good and bad news for Austinites struggling with insect and pest populations. Ants and mosquitos are in decline right now, while spider mites and chinch bugs are thriving.  

Texas Agri-Life entomologist Wizzie Brown says that hot dry conditions are good for some insect populations and bad for others. She says the number of fire ants at ground level and mosquito populations drop during droughts.

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News Brief
6:10 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Top Morning Stories July 05, 2011

Thanks to the drought Lake Travis is 23 feet below the historic average for July, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Photo by KUT News.

Lake Levels Dropping

The drought has been dropping lake levels in Central Texas.  The Lower Colorado River Authority says the water level at Lake Travis is at about 646 feet. That’s 23 feet below its historic average for July. Lake Buchanan is about 12 feet below its historic average for this month. The rain outlook doesn’t look too promising, although there is a slight chance for rain this weekend. 

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3:05 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Drought predicted to worsen

Lake Travis' diminishing shoreline. Lake Travis is a popular recreational water source for swimmers, boaters and water sports of all kinds.
KUT News

Fireworks displays have been banned, lakes drying up and crops scorched. It's safe to say the drought in Central Texas is bad. And it's not over yet.

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5:14 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Feds Declare 213 Texas Counties as Drought Disaster Zones

Drought stunted wheat in Texas
Photo by agrilifetoday http://www.flickr.com/photos/agrilifetoday/

Calling it “one of the worst droughts in more than a century”, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has named 213 of Texas’ 254 counties as primary natural disaster areas. The measure allows farmers and ranchers to apply for federal disaster aid. The remaining 41 counties also qualify for assistance because they are contiguous.

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12:33 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

Rain Offers Little Relief for Drought

Graphic courtesy of the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Central Texas got some temporary relief from the ongoing drought.  Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose says, while one to over two inches of rain fell in many areas, we would need a lot more rainy days to break the drought.

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1:46 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

LCRA Warns of Lake Hazards, Urges Conservation

The Lake Travis level is 23 feet below the monthly average of 461 feet.
Photo courtesy of LCRA.

Correction for Clarification: The Lower Colorado River Authority requests that customers impose mandatory water restrictions when the combines lake storage drop below 900,000 acre-feet of water, but does not curtail.

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1:35 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Exceptional Drought Spreads, Llano River Near Dry

A picture of the Llano River Bridge during its last drought in 2008.
Photo by kjoyner666 http://www.flickr.com/photos/delusionary/

The city’s and county’s move to ban all fireworks, public and private, for the Fourth of July weekend seem like a bummer to some people, but when you examine at the local drought conditions, it’s hard to blame them.  The US Drought Monitor Map shows the entire region is in “exceptional” drought, which is the worst category they have.

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12:32 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

UT Fountains To Be Turned Off Monday

Photo by jdeeringdavis http://www.flickr.com/photos/hayesandjenn/

Water fountains at the University of Texas at Austin will go dry on Monday as UT begins implementing voluntary Stage 2 water conservation measures. UT expects doing this will save more than 300,000 gallons each month on the 40 acres.

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3:07 pm
Tue June 14, 2011

County Judge Declares "Local Disaster," Bans Fireworks

Photo by SJ photography's photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjliew/

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe led commissioners today to declare a state of local emergency and ban the sale of fireworks for 60 hours. Biscoe is requesting that Governor Perry extend the fireworks ban through June and over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The initial declaration presented by Judge Biscoe only granted him the authority to proclaim a "local disaster" for seven days. Biscoe asked Travis County Commissioners Court to extend the declaration indefinitely. They were approved the measure today after lunch, but included a provision that would allow Biscoe to lift the ban in the case of heavy rain.

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4:07 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Groundwater Bill Closer To Governor's Desk

A groundwater bill making its way out of the Texas Legislature could be used in the future to make some water rights points in court.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

The groundwater bill is closer to becoming a law. The Texas House passed SB 332, which states that a property owner also owns the groundwater beneath their land. The bill goes back to the Senate for a final vote before it goes to Governor Rick Perry.

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News Brief
5:51 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Top Morning Stories May 19, 2011

The accused Fort Hood shooter’s defense team is scheduled to meet with Fort Hood’s new commander Thursday.
Sketch courtesy of Pat Lopez.

Charged Fort Hood Shooter's Defense Meeting with Commander

Major Nidal Hasan's defense counsel is scheduled to meet with Fort Hood's commander today.  Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell will decide whether Hasan will be court martialed and whether he will face the death penalty. Hasan's lead attorney, John Galligan, told the Associated Press he'll urge Campbell not to seek the death penalty because those cases are more costly and time consuming. 

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10:46 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Austin's Reaction Online To Storm Drenching

Thunder rumbled and heavy rains fell in Austin today.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News
4:46 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Farmers Sound Alarm On Drought Disaster

Photo by Whatknot http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatknot/

Historically dry conditions have brought the the Texas agriculture industry to its knees, according to the Texas Farm Bureau's board of directors. The board met for its quarterly meeting in Waco today and released this statement.

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4:02 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Texas Drought: Could It Get Any Worse?

This map shows more of Texas in drought than any other time since it was introduced by the US Drought Monitor in January 2000.
Image courtesy US Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor started using the above map in 2000 to visually represent drought conditions. The newest map, released May 5, shows more land than ever before is in "exceptional drought," the most intense drought category used by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Associated Press talked to National Weather Service Meteorologist Victor Murphy who said the same is true of the amount of land in "extreme drought", the second most severe category.

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11:27 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Burn Ban Ordered For Central Texas Scout Properties

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/akahodag/

As the Texas Forest Service fights ten major wildfires covering more than half-a-million acres, the Central Texas Boy Scouts have ordered a burn ban at all seven of its camping properties. Those are Lost Pines Boy Scout Camp and Cub World near Bastrop, Griffith League Scout Ranch near Bastrop, Camp Green Dickson near Gonzales, Camp Alma McHenry near Giddings, Roy D. Rivers Wilderness Camp near Smithville and Wolf Mountain Scout Ranch near Llano.

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