The Circle Acres Nature Preserve is an educational center located on a 10-acre brownfield property in the Montopolis neighborhood of Austin maintained by Ecology Action of Texas 501(c)(3). Ecology Action is a nonprofit organization that for nearly 50 years has worked in Austin to divert landfill waste through grassroots leadership and community support. After many years and volunteer hours, Circle Acres is now 10 acres of restored wetland, forest, and grassland within the southeast Austin neighborhood of Montopolis. Circle Acres follows the programming framework for Ecology Action’s educational, advocacy, and research activities on the site. It includes outdoor classrooms, demonstration areas, operations & maintenance support, art, and social spaces. With this endeavor, Ecology Action seeks a broadened definition of “waste” which addresses all the cycles of life. With a particular emphasis on the life cycles of materials, food, water, and energy, this concept of “waste” permeates the thinking behind trash, food waste and compost, building construction, resource use, and myriad other cycles that exemplify Ecology Action’s mission.
The site has undergone many changes throughout its history, starting in the 1960’s when roughly 3.6 of the total 9.8 acres of the Site were significantly excavated as it was quarried for sand and gravel. After operations ceased in 1967, the City of Austin leased the Site as a landfill for municipal and household waste. The Grove Landfill was operated for three years, filling in portions of the excavated quarry, and was closed and capped in 1970. The Site was then subjected to illegal dumping for approximately fifteen years following its closure and was designated as a Brownfield. The Site was transferred to Ecology Action of Texas in 2009 and is currently operating as an education center for environmental sustainability.
Ecology Action of Texas in a strategic partnership with Myco Alliance has received funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the Montopolis Wetland and Creek Rehab Project. Together, Ecology Action and Myco Alliance will use the funding to monitor water and soil quality of the proximate Country Club Creek East, restore native plants to the creek ecology, and build a research station where scientific experiments using mycelium can be carried out. Other partner non-profits, such as Austin Youth River Watch, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Austin Parks Foundation will play a key role in supporting the project.