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AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) – Slammed by severe storms, the Barton Creek Greenbelt has been closed for the past week.
“It’s slippery, it’s wet, it causes erosion and right now the parks department has deemed that it’s not yet safe to go back into the parks.” explained LeAnn Ishcomer, a park ranger with the City of Austin.
Most formal park entrances have locks and signs, demanding potential park-goers to keep out. But, that hasn’t kept everyone from hiking in the greenbelt’s mud, or swimming in swollen Barton Creek.
Some park visitors are ignoring the barriers, others, missing them — while entering the park from informal trailheads.
“Yeah, where we entered there’s so many entrances a lot of people don’t really take the trail access too seriously.” explained Matthew Vidakovich.
Vidakovich entered the park from an informal trailhead behind a church with Ann DeSanctis. The two were surprised to be greeted by a park ranger upon their exit.
“Yeah, thought maybe it had closed while we were in there.” said DeSanctis.
Ishcomer says there are myriad dangers park goers who miss or ignore the “closed” signs face. Including flash flooding, debris, and even rockslides. She explained that not only does the park pose a danger to humans, but humans pose a danger to the park.
“We don’t have very much soil here in Austin. In certain parts of Austin, and particularly in this park.”
That means when people ignore the “closed” signs and walk through a wet park, are compounding an erosion issue.
“We’re trying to get everybody to understand leave no trace ethics and that means leaving the parks as nice as you found it or nicer than you found them.”
Park rangers, forestry and maintenance teams, police, fire and EMS are all monitoring the situation.
You can get the latest on park closures here.