May 2020 Update
To the Friends of Save Hamilton Pool:
Despite our best efforts, Save Hamilton Pool and representatives of the Stagecoach Ranch neighborhood were unable to get reasonable and proportional measures, targeted at environmental protection, water quality, traffic and wildfire safety, to apply to the Bentree RV Resort / Buddy's Backyard. Permits have been issued, the RV Park has started construction, virtually all of the vegetation has been scraped from the site, and the immediate damage is likely beyond restoration within our lifetime.
Let's hope now that the modest controls the developers put in place to satisfy the County's minimum standards, the upper limits of every engineered system on the site, and every "discretionary decision" made by the RV Park design team and multi-agency reviewers all hold out and can protect Hamilton Creek and its downstream treasure.
Despite this sad news, we are thankful for a few things and have learned some valuable lessons.
We are thankful for the leadership of the Travis County Parks Department, which quickly made the case for, and figured out how to pay for, the acquisition of 30 acres across Hamilton Pool Road from the Preserve itself.
We are thankful that we were able to mobilize and unite talented, passionate and generous citizens behind the idea that a natural treasure like Hamilton Pool belongs to us all and deserves the fullest of protections.
We are thankful that our petition reached a total of 23,225 signatures and the topic of water quality and preservation of Hamilton Pool received national attention.
We are thankful for the many community donations, community volunteers, and purchases of yard signs and for the overall support we received toward our efforts.
Here is what we learned in this whole process: From the beginning, the deck was stacked against us. By the time we even knew about the permit application, it was too late. Texas State law does not make much provision for public input to private developments, and it also forces reviewers at the various agencies to make quick decisions under the constant threat of lawsuit. Once a permit application is submitted, the "track" to approval is deep and straight. Going forward, we cannot rely on local review agency staff to protect Hamilton Pool.
Nobody else is going to look out for Hamilton Pool and the future of the Hamilton Creek watershed: It is up to us.
The "fight for Hamilton Pool" is far from over. The Bentree RV / Buddy's Backyard development remains contrary to our ideals and aspirations, and the public input process was extremely frustrating.
Unfortunately, we can no longer fight Bentree and its terribly scaled project in a manner that is productive to our work in protecting the future of Hamilton Pool. Many great ideas about conserving the landscape have been circulated in private and public spheres, for many years. Now it is time to look up from the minutiae of code details at the big picture going forward and all of the things we must engage in:
Strategic political work
Community service projects
With development pressure on all sides, it is up to us to do so. We are encouraged by our social media footprint and the continued generosity of private citizens who have allowed our work to take hold and serve our shared natural treasure.
We are moving forward with filing our nonprofit tax exemption. Save Hamilton Pool will officially become a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that will empower our local communities to take all necessary steps to protect the water quality of Hamilton Pool from current and future threats of contamination, and to preserve its natural beauty for generations to come. Who else, if not us, and how else, if not by and with you, will Hamilton Pool be saved?
Thank you for your patience, trust, and support.
Save Hamilton Pool Alliance
“Mother Earth is our first teacher. She has informed us that oneness does not equal sameness. She shows us this through the harmonious balance that is held in the rich biodiversity that exists within our world. To achieve oneness we must transcend our differences and embrace the integration of every individual aspect of humanity into the whole, knowing that all healthy systems are comprised of complexity and an abundance of diversity.”
― Sherri Mitchell Weh'na Ha'mu Kwasset