A seizure of 1.2 acres of parkland for the upcoming expansion of I-35 through Central Austin could mean the demolition of a historic grove of pecan trees on Lady Bird Lake. The Texas Department of Transportation plans to seize 1.2 acres of Waller Beach Park at Lady Bird Lake for construction staging and keep the land for maintenance operations on the I-35 bridge after the expansion is complete.

The City of Austin Historic Landmark Commission and a group of Austin residents have joined to try to block the destruction of the 60-year-old trees in Waller Beach Town Lake Metropolitan Park, the Austin Monitor reported. The commission voted unanimously at its February 7 meeting to urge city arborists to more research on the trees and their immediate habitat.

To bolster their opposition, commissioners  are looking at a section of the National Historic Preservation Act that could trigger a mandated review of federally funded projects that threaten historic resources — usually that means structures, but the commission believes "this grove of pecans rises to the status of a local, character-defining, culturally significant contributing resource to the city of Austin,” said commissioner Witt Featherston. “We recommend the city arborist identify individual specimens and assess the likely boundaries of the pecan grove in order to facilitate our best efforts at preserving this irreplaceable resource.”

The Landmark Commission’s direction forwarded the direction the Planning Commission and City Council for further consideration.