Howard Barnett and Dorothy Lopez Barnett

When Howard was 18 years old he left home in Tyler, Texas and began working in Yellowstone National Park.  Eventually he obtained a summer job with the National Park Service as a smokejumper, fighting forest fires.  Eventually, his young wife, Dorothy Lopez Barnett and young daughter joined him where they made their home in Missoula, Montana.

They then decided to move to Austin, Texas where Howard enrolled at UT.  Ultimately Howard received a BA in Journalism where he wrote speeches for the Governor and obtained employment as a staff writer for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

Howard and Dorothy fell in love with Austin, its community and its culture.  Because of their concern for conservation of the environment, Dorothy organized the very first meeting of the Austin Sierra Club and they began going on canoe trips.

One day in 1969, Howard had an idea while driving across Lamar Bridge.  It was an idea of a way to enjoy the natural beauty of Austin and that would draw thousands of people to a tiny spot on the banks of Barton Creek. Howard and Dorothy submitted a two page proposal to Austin Parks and Recreation Department to rent boats on Town Lake and were granted the very FIRST contract of this type in Austin. 

Howard and Dorothy saved up enough money from Howard’s salary at Texas Parks and Wildlife to purchase the initial inventory of 9 canoes from the owner of Bull Creek Lodge, now known as County Line on the Lake. Howard remained at Texas Parks and Wildlife and Dorothy, with daughter Laura in tow, worked at Zilker Park Boats, then known as Armadillo Canoe Rentals.

Having been staunch environmentalist for most of their life, they support efforts to bring awareness of Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake through free programs for children who might not have an opportunity to see nature in their backyards.  This is their desire going into the future.

Dorothy has has served on the board of several organizations at the city, state, and national level. While helping with Zilker Park Boats, Dorothy received her Diploma from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Anthropology, an MA in English/Creative Writing, and is a Post Graduate Michener Fellowship from the Michener Center.  She also completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She published a memoir of her unusual childhood entitled, Road Songs, was a founding member of the Round Top Poetry Festival, Founding member of The Rio Review for Austin Community College and Created the ACC Creative Writing Program, and eventually retired as Assistant Dean of Communications at Austin Community College where she taught English and creative writing.

Howard and Dorothy are still active in the business and live nearby.  They share their home with two rescue dogs Pepper and Jack.  Over the past 50 years their family has grown!  Another daughter, Cory, and son-in-law, Jon and three grandchildren complete the group, Reagan, Hudson, and Paige.