OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Ecology Action of Texas
Circle Acres Master Plan
Ecology Action of Texas, founded in1970, is a worker-run cooperative focused on environmental issues, most notably recycling. Their mission is “to educate and empower people to create a healthier environment through waste prevention and accessibility to recycling.” Over their long history in Austin, they have developed a robust system that supports education and recycling.
To further their mission Ecology Action purchased a 10-acre tract of land, Circle Acres, in East Austin near the Colorado River where they will develop a commercial composting operation. The goal is to turn local restaurant food scraps into nutrient rich soil. Impact Austin’s grant will support them to make critical infrastructure investments and to map out a master plan for the future of Circle Acres. Ecology Action envisions Circle Acres as a national model for environmental remediation and education, and a key step in the transition to a zero-waste society.
Ecology Action met several goals during the course of the grant period, notably in relation to remediation and restoration.
There is no longer surface trash and the surface soil is safe for walking without fear of lead contamination. Local wildlife has reportedly flourished thanks to this land remediation and restoration effort, with partners at the Travis Audubon Society counting more than 120 bird species at the site. Land samples taken at the site in 2000 found lead contamination in the ground soil to be above TRRP Tier 1 Standards (Texas Risk Reduction cleanup standards), while the most recent samples taken indicate levels now below these standards.
Over the course of the grant period, Ecology Action established three trailheads with informational kiosks, just shy of its goal of four due to permitting issues, providing access to nearly 45,000 people in the local community.
Through this project, Ecology Action was able to build strong ties with the local community as well as involve the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), allowing for the establishment of a long-term partnership. The organization hosted more than 500 volunteers at Circle Acres over the course of the project.
At the end of the grant period, work remained to be done with respect to the installation of an outdoor classroom for youth education, though its completion was reportedly imminent. Final graphics for the informational kiosks were anticipated for installation in 2015.
The organization credits Impact Austin with its ability to secure additional funding for the project through the awarding of two separate grants, totaling nearly $20,000.