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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

LLANO — When Terry Toler set up his camera below the Texas 16 bridge spanning the Llano River, he discovered a problem. He couldn’t get a good view of the bridge through the viewfinder.

“I was trying to get that, you know, ‘chamber of commerce’ shot, but really couldn’t,” Toler said. Instead of a picturesque scene, Toler found one cluttered with overgrown brush and hackberry trees along the river’s shore. “You really can’t get good photos, but it’s even so bad it’s hard to walk down to or along the river. It’s almost treacherous in some spots.”

This didn’t sit well with Toler, who is also the Llano Main Street director. The Llano River, flowing through town, serves as a great attraction for the community. But, he pointed out, people need to be able to get to it.

So Toler and others are organizing a Llano River cleanup on Aug. 2. Volunteers can meet at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the Llano County Library, 102 E. Haynie, across from Grenwelge Park. Folks should bring chain saws, weed trimmers, saws, ropes and chains. Pickup trucks are also needed.

The idea, Toler said, is to go in and clean out as much brush and trash trees as possible.

“Hackberry trees have almost taken over the place,” he said about a species of tree that is often considered invasive. The brush has also grown up quite a bit, especially with the water levels down because of drought conditions.

Not only are they unsightly and a detriment to the area, the brushy growth and invasive species can outcompete native and desirable trees and plants for water and space. Toler noted that there are several oaks, elms and cottonwoods along the river, but brush encircles many of them and threatens to choke them out.

“We’re going to leave all the native plants and trees,” he said. “And we’ll be aware of erosion, so we won’t remove plants that are important to keeping the soil in place. We just want to clean up the stretch of river so it’s more pleasing and accessible.”

Neither the city nor the Llano Main Street Program is sponsoring the event. Toler said people could sit back and wait on a government entity to do it, but with tight budgets, it’s hard to know when that time will come.

“We always want ‘somebody’ to do something,” Toler said. “Why can’t we be that ‘somebody?’ We have a lot of potential down there along the river. There are a lot of communities that would give their right arms to have a river running through them like we do. And especially one that’s just off downtown. The river is a big asset to Llano and we said ‘Dadgum, let’s do this.'”

The Llano Main Street Program is providing soft drinks and water. Toler recommended folks wear appropriate clothing such as jeans, sturdy boots and hats.

Call Toler at (512) 658-8839 for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com