Abilene continues to be one of the best mid-sized cities in Texas to raise a family and retire due to the quality of life and cost of living. Here at Keep Abilene Beautiful, we are revitalizing our team with new board members, and I have just come on board as its new Executive Director. Our mission has always been to engage and educate Abilenians in improving our community environment through beautification, litter reduction, recycling and taking care of our most precious natural resource, water.
Gussying Up our Public Green Spaces
Here in west Texas, there isn’t a great deal of tree canopy. It is so important to build that canopy to capture and filter rainwater before it gets to our drainage system to reduce the pollution entering our water sources. Our focus in that area is to increase our tree canopy at our public green spaces and public school campuses. Planting trees drastically improves the aesthetic appearance of the grounds making the space more inviting to the surrounding community; it provides shade to cool down, hot recreation spaces and creates outdoor classroom space that can be used as a teaching tool. For the past 2 years Keep Abilene Beautiful has worked with public and private partners in hosting Fall Arbor Day Tree Planting Demonstrations. Expert arborists play a major role in this beautification project, and our sponsors make it happen in a big way. The 3rd Annual event coming up in November will be bigger than ever with large fruit and nut-bearing trees being planted by our experts along with some fantastic volunteers. During this event, we will launch the #2020AbileneTrees by April 2020, with the goal being to have over 2,020 trees planted in Abilene by April 2020 in time to celebrate Earth Day.
We have one of the best volunteer bases any organization could hope for where the focus is on supporting community groups in the maintenance and improvement of our parks, streets, creeks and trails. Our success is due to the hard work of our community leaders and volunteers that are committed to enhancing their neighborhoods; while we support them through resources, event and project planning and promotion of good citizenship.
Polishing those WONDERFUL Waterways
Drought conditions in Abilene were so severe in the late 1980’s and again in the late ’90s, early 2000’s that city leaders undertook a major plan to ensure our drinking water for years to come. They focused heavily on the education of the public regarding the conservation of our most precious natural resource, WATER! Abilene receives its drinking water from 3 of the surrounding lakes, and it is important that we take care of those water sources. Keep Abilene Beautiful works closely with the City’s Storm Water Education department in shedding light on how everything is connected; including what gets drained into our local waterways (lakes, creeks and streams). Two of the major changes in how we use our water includes:
- Development of a new reclaimed water use program that provides treated wastewater effluent to large irrigation customers, such as golf courses, parks, and universities, which previously used drinking water to nourish their green spaces.
- The creation of Abilene’s water conservation plan – based on best practices and developed in cooperation with master gardeners, landscape professionals, and city staff. Our water conservation plan enables residents to save millions of gallons of water every year.
Further promoting that conservation plan, Keep Abilene Beautiful hosts regular waterway cleanups at two of our lakes to bring our neighbors and families out to enjoy the area; as well as, instill the importance of keeping them clean.
Abilenians are some of the friendliest and most helpful folks around and we could not be prouder and happier to work with students, civic groups and the public developing their knowledge and cultivating that servant leadership to enhance our community and environment. We do that with a lot of great public and private partnerships, providing tools and resources that encourage positive changes in behaviors. #LoveWhereYouLive is our moto and we work to spread that message to as many as are willing to listen.