You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

UT expected to double size of field station in Bastrop County

A University of Texas biological field station in Bastrop County would more than double in size under a plan expected to be approved by the university’s governing board this week.

UT-Austin would use donated funds to purchase 368 acres of undeveloped land to supplement the 208-acre Stengl Lost Pines Biological Station. Both tracts survived recent fires that devastated much of the area’s pine forest, making them important sites for long-term study of plants, animals and the ecosystems they inhabit.

“This is the last large block of unburned Lost Pines. The last two big fires missed both areas. We’re sitting there with a real treasure,” said Lawrence Gilbert, a professor of integrative biology.

The UT System Board of Regents, meeting in Galveston on Thursday and Friday, will also discuss proposed tuition increases for its academic and health institutions. However, any action on tuition would take place at a later meeting.

UT-Austin is proposing to raise academic charges, which include tuition and fees, by 3.1 percent, or $152, for the fall semester this year. Another increase of $152, or 3 percent, is proposed for fall 2017. If approved, the semester charge for an undergraduate from Texas would rise to $5,207, up from the current $4,903.

The university hasn’t raised tuition since fall 2012. The additional revenue would be used for initiatives intended to boost the four-year graduation rate, for need-based student financial aid and for “faculty recruitment and retention strategies with a focus on gender equity,” according to university documents.

The additional land for the Stengl Station is situated adjacent to and just north of the current property. The expansion would help the university compete with Stanford University, Harvard University and other schools with field stations, Gilbert said. Stengl is a satellite of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory, an 82-acre parcel along Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin Boulevard in Austin.

“With climate change and other things going on, having secure places you can study is important,” said Gilbert, who directs the Brackenridge lab. The parcel to be acquired is “a relic patch of East Texas and Southeastern pine forest,” with orchids, flying squirrels and other interesting species, he said.

The current owner of the parcel is PK Row Ltd., according to the UT board documents. The purchase price, which has not been disclosed publicly, cannot exceed fair market value.

Funds for the acquisition are being donated by Lorraine “Casey” Stengl, a retired physician who donated land for the field station in 1991. A graduate of UT, she has contributed $1.95 million over the years to endow graduate student fellowships, professorships and excellence accounts that provide discretionary funding for the Brackenridge lab and the Stengl Station, said Christine Sinatra, a spokeswoman for UT’s College of Natural Sciences.

During its meeting this week, the UT board will also consider allocating a total of $30 million in proceeds from endowment-backed bonds to campuses for recruiting or retaining top researchers and outstanding entry-level faculty members.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

CAREFUL WITH SCAMS: IRS warns of summertime tax schemes
CAREFUL WITH SCAMS: IRS warns of summertime tax schemes

Even though tax season has ended for most taxpayers, the IRS said in a press release Monday that tax-related scams continue across the nation. “We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in the release. “Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious...
Austin school board calls for $1.05 billion November bond package
Austin school board calls for $1.05 billion November bond package

The Austin school board Monday night called for a $1.05 billion bond package to be placed before voters in November. The bond projects, rolled into one proposition, total $1.13 billion, but trustees plan to apply $83.8 million in projected leftover bond funds and possible land sales of East Austin schools to reduce the total package amount. Despite...
Austin, other cities spar with state, DOJ in ‘sanctuary cities’ hearing
Austin, other cities spar with state, DOJ in ‘sanctuary cities’ hearing

Lawyers from numerous Texas cities sparred with the state and the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday in the first hearing in their attempts to upend Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities ban, before it can be implemented. The hearing, held in a federal courtroom in San Antonio, brought forward many previously filed arguments, claiming that...
Arkansas ruling could affect Texas gay marriage benefits case
Arkansas ruling could affect Texas gay marriage benefits case

Arkansas cannot exclude the names of same-sex spouses from their children’s birth certificates, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that gay marriage advocates said should be a wake-up call for the Texas Supreme Court. Texas’ highest civil court is preparing to rule on a challenge by opponents of gay marriage who want to stop...
Austin kidnap suspect foiled by Facebook, caught at Iron Maiden show
Austin kidnap suspect foiled by Facebook, caught at Iron Maiden show

If you’re going to listen to Iron Maiden’s advice and “Run to the Hills” to avoid police, just don’t post it on Facebook. An Austin man who was wanted by police on a kidnapping charge got caught by the Bexar County sheriff’s office Saturday at an Iron Maiden concert in San Antonio after a friend of his posted images...
More Stories