Travis Co. park officials have taken public masturbation into their own hands at Hippie Hollow Park
. They've cleared out the underbrush, small junipers, and low-hanging tree limbs to discourage that sort of "illicit activity" at the clothing-optional Lake Travis landmark. Park rangers have recently stepped up their patrols of the area in response to complaints from the regulars, who like to sunbathe nude on the rocks at the water's edge, said Dan Chapman, an assistant district ranger. "But it was difficult for us to see through all that vegetation," he added, "and rangers would have to beat the bushes to find these guys." On the whole, Chapman said, the peeping Toms shaking it in the bushes are the No. 1 irritant for nudists and other park visitors. "The naturalists, they're out there in the open, and that's fine. But people go there to recreate and enjoy the park. They don't want to see males masturbating."
Unfortunately, hyperactive voyeurism aside, some park lovers are more concerned that in their haste to weed out randy birds in the bush, county crews may have destroyed vital natural habitat. But Rose Farmer, a county resource management specialist, said that the endangered golden-cheeked warbler no longer makes its home at Hippie Hollow because of residential development in the area. "They haven't been seen out there in about 10 years," she said. "They've moved about a mile up the hill." The warblers might soon be joined by another species, distinguished by powerful binoculars.