The year 2005 was a busy year, rounding up funding and overseeing a massive "remodel" of the "old gravel pit and shooting range". PPLT worked hard to bring on partners to help with such a big project. Of course BCWCID was the first partner, but quickly Lower Colorado River Authority, Bluebonnet Electric Coop, Tahitian Village Property Owners Assoc, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept, National Park Service, Toms of Maine and many others came together to support the goal of creating a wildlife refuge so near downtown Bastrop. PPLT conducted its first capital campaign as well and gained many private supporters from around Central Texas. Soon the big equipment was moving in.
Work on the CRR continued throughout 2006 and local businesses got into the action. Bastrop County- Pct. 1, Loomis Austin, Texas Aggregates, American Youth Works, First National Bank, Roscoe State Bank and NRCS all helped to create aspects of the Refuge. Parking, trails, signs, bridges, maps and much more was completed. The beautiful Colorado River served as a backdrop and reminder of why everyone was working so hard. The Colorado River has another side too – the powerful and destructive side! In 2007 the Refuge was flooded for over 30 days and much of the previous 3 years work was washed downstream. When the Refuge finally dried out PPLT rolled up it’s sleeves and started to clean up and rebuild. Much time and money later the Refuge looked better than ever, the handicapped accessible ramp was completed and the community was finding out about the great trails and excellent bird watching there.
The CRR was looking good and ready for a party - so on Earth Day 2008 Pines and Prairies Land Trust hosted over 100 friends at the Refuge for a Grand Opening. US Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald, Pct. 1 Commissioner Willie Pina City of Bastrop Mayor Terry Orr and many more enjoyed food, drinks, music and hiking. The CRR had a great coming out party and more folks learned about the magic of the Colorado River. A wonderful amenity was added to the CRR in 2008 when Bastrop County Audubon created, funded and installed a beautiful bird identification sign along the Two Bridges Trail. The river side trails at the Refuge were complete in 2008 so the work plan for 2009 was to extend the Refuge trails to the western side of the CRR. The Lost Pines Master Naturalists of Bastrop and Caldwell County took on the CRR as a project. With the able leadership of Trail Master, Dale Morrison, they created over 1 mile of new trails along a major creek drainage between Riverside Dr. and Lamaloa Rd. just west of the railroad tracks. This opened up a completely different habitat with vibrant wildflower meadows, upland woods and interesting topography. The LPMNs also rehabilitated the existing Cliffhanger Trail and tied it into the new trail, aptly named, Dragonfly Trail.
Trail enhancement and maintenance was the name of the game for 2010. The Refuge gained another group of supporters with the establishment of the Friends of the Colorado River Refuge. The Friends group plans to oversee the trails at the CRR, coordinate education outreach (including the very popular Nature Lessons) and do outreach and fundraising for the CRR. Plans include creating a loop trail to tie the Dragonfly Trail into a new trail along the west edge of the CRR and extending the CRR trails into the City of Bastrop Economic Development property and then to Bastrop State Park and downtown Bastrop.
For 2011 and beyond more outreach is in the works. A new internet interactive Trail Guide and map for the CRR is on deck. Area boys scouts and girl scouts plan to do projects at the Refuge. Most importantly birders, hikers, loungers, picnickers, fishers, dog walkers and more are discovering the CRR. As more folks use the CRR more interest and funding is generated. You too can enjoy the Colorado River Refuge. The CRR is free and open everyday. It is located along the river west of the Tahitian Village Golf Course between Kaala Rd. and Lovers Ln. Pines and Prairies Land Trust is a non-profit land conservation organization that serves Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee Counties. You can reach PPLT at 512-308-1911 or email@example.com. Lost Pines Master Naturalists may be contacted at 512-589-3438 or www.lostpinesmasternaturalist.org. The Friends of the CRR can be reached at 512-237-1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.