Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Dallas whitetail fawn, a success story in feral hog eradication

Whitetail fawn Great Trinity Forest, McCommas Bluff September 2011

Feral hogs. Al-Qaeda on four legs. The Great Trinity Forest grows them big. Some weigh more than Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen. With an unlimited food supply, water, shelter and freedom from hunters the pigs for better lack of a term can go hog wild within the city limits of Dallas. In the summer and fall of 2010 there were so many pigs in the Great Trinity Forest that I would see many dozens of them on any one trip. Many of the sounders, what family groups of pigs are called, migrated up the river from the south. Other pigs were relocated from Dallas City Parks. Pigs were caught at Kiest Park and released in the riverbottom where they would not bother as many people.

The pigs viewed the Great Trinity Forest like college students view Cancun on Spring Break. All party. All the time. Redneck country pigs from the river mixing it up with the city pigs from Oak Cliff and Redbird. Soon the population mushroomed with baby pigs. It coincided with a super crop of pecans and acorns last fall. The baby pigs were pushing 100 pounds, fast. I covered much of it in a previous post last winter Trinity River Feral Pigs . I had enough footage of the river pigs that National Geographic used some of it in their The Invaders: Pigzilla documentary currently airing on TV(looking back on it I probably should not have given them the footage for free).

The feral pig in Texas is considered an apex predator. It will eat anything and everything. It will eat ground nesting bird eggs, fish, venomous snakes, carrion and juvenile animals of other species. It will nose out anything and everything else. They are pigs. It's what they do. The result was that you would never see ducklings or fawns on the river. The pigs ate the eggs and killed the newborns. With an IQ on par with that of a domestic pet dog, they have enough wits to know where and how to stalk other animals. Feral pigs are also vectors for disease. They can contaminate bodies of water with a whole host of diseases.

In response to the feral pig problem Dallas commissioned their own feral pig trap. Within a few months it made enough of a dent in the population that the vandalism and destruction caused by the pigs went away. I know that poachers took probably as many as the trap caught too.

The video above is the feral pig trap as it looked in May 2011. The trap is large enough to catch whole family groups at one time. It utilizes a high fence and a trap door attached to a cable which runs down to a food source. The food source in this case is feed corn dispensed from an automatic feeder on a tripod. The corn you see growing inside the trap is from feed corn that germinated inside the trap. The corn grew as high as an elephant's eye within another couple weeks. The whole time the trap door was open. Any pig could have waltzed in and rampaged 50 ears of fresh corn on the cob. Proof that the trap worked. It knocked off all the dumb and dumber of the pig population in that area. Like dogs, pigs can learn skills of survival. They witness other pigs in a trap and they learn not to go near the trap. Which is what happened here. There are still pigs in the forest but they have moved away from the Swine Srebrenica. They know. They have seen.

That whole preface of the background into the feral pig problem has paved the way for an exciting development. The first whitetail fawn that I have seen in this part of the forest.

The short video clip below is of a Whitetail doe and her fawn at McCommas Bluff on the evening of September 25, 2011. The mother appears first with the fawn close behind. They begin a slow and cautious walk down to an oxbow lake/swale to drink. A cold front had just pushed through the area and the wind had shifted to a strong breeze out of the north. Like the past three months, it was hotter than hell that day for late September, in the mid 90s. This is a unique part of the Great Trinity Forest. It sits in a very small finger like sliver of Post Oak Savannah that moves from SE to NW through Dallas County.

Sure, pretty neat to see a couple deer inside the Dallas city limits. Even more interesting that one is a fawn slowly losing spots. What makes it most interesting, is that this was the area just utterly rampaged by pigs last winter. When a doe raises fawns, they only range about one square mile. There is no possible way, none, none whatsoever that a doe could give birth and raise a fawn in those woods with so many pigs around. You can have deer or hogs. You cannot have both.

Last October I was lucky enough to see some larger bucks in the woods a little closer to the Audubon Center. I thought that while it was nice to see them, there could never be a sustainable population of deer. Maybe that is going to change?

Whitetail Buck in October 2010, 100 yards from present day Trinity Trail Bridge

The buck above would literally be standing on the newly constructed Trinity Trail that leads from the Audubon Center to the south bank of the river. Although it was only early October he was exhibiting full rut behavior with an aggressive stance, leg stomping etc. He could not see me well and was puzzled as to what I might have been. Last fall during the rut I found deer scat as far north and west as Sargent and Southerland Roads. I imagine they followed the river up.

Fawn in flight

Hopefully we will see more of this in the future. While some cities like Austin have come to loathe their pet population of deer, I think many Dallasites would welcome it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Last Trail Ride On The Old Trinity Trail

Airborne Horse

For over a century, Simpson Stuart Road has quietly disappeared into the riverbottoms of the Trinity River. Making a transition from concrete to asphalt to gravel to dirt to pecan covered forest floor in under a mile. The loud traffic of jake braking 18 wheelers carrying their burden to the McCommas Bluff Landfill quickly yields to near country road silence as one passes the Eco Park development. What was once an area known only by illegal dumpers is slowly being transformed into the new Trinity River Trail.

The horsemen in the area have known the day would come when their dirt trail would be paved. For them, horseback riding is a way of life. They grew up in rural ranch settings where their unorthodox looking Mexican saddles were more functional than the western style saddles we see here in Texas. They are experts in their craft. Often taken recently saddlebroken half wild horses on rides through the woods. A few sing and whistle as they ride with only the woods for an audience. Here you can get away with that, they say.

Horseback riders on the Trinity Trail September 18, 2011
It's the last ride. The last one on dirt. As you can see above the forms are in place. The dirt has been graded. All that's left is the rebar and concrete. In a week it will be concrete. The passing of an old trail and the beginning of a new one, the Trinity River Trail. It will connect the Trinity River Audubon Center with the south side of the river then make a U shape around to Simpson Stuart Road(photo above). From there it will connect with Phase I of the Trinity River Trail which skirts Lemmon Lake from Simpson Stuart to Loop 12. More can be read about Phase I in a previous post here

Trinity River Trail Phase I

Simpson Stuart Road looking west, Greater Roadunner
 Known as Camp Wisdom Road in western parts of Dallas, the road changes names to Simpson Stuart as it heads east. In the photo to the left you can see the traffic light for the I-45 overpass in the far distance to the west. Vehicle traffic is supposed to stop at the Eco Park building, in the photo you can see where the trail bollards(posts) to keep vehicles from driving down the closed section of road have been removed. In the foreground under the shade of a tree stands a Greater Roadrunner.
Dallas Roadrunner

This particular roadrunner has been spotted along this stretch of road for years. The Greater Roadunner (Geococcyx californianus) is part of the cuckoo family.This roadrunner is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer. This particular roadrunner seen in the photo on the right is probably what is responsible for all the small dead snakes that litter the road where it transitions from asphalt to gravel.

As you can see, this part of Dallas has more of a country rural feel to it than an urban environment. A neighborhood once known as Floral Farms, an unincorporated community in Dallas County. Hashed out of a piece of land between the Union Pacific tracks and the Trinity in the late 1940s, the area was annexed by Dallas within the next decade. Floral Farms afforded African American residents a community where they could live in a semi-rural setting and be away from the confines of the highly segregated urban areas at that time. The city eventually bought the homeowners out on a voluntary basis in the 1970s. Unlike Joppa that sits on a high piece of ground, Floral Farms sits not much higher than the river itself making it potentially flood prone. The removal of homes was done in a half-hearted manner so even 40 years later some structures still stand. Outhouses, sheds and foundations are still visible.

Abandoned Joppa Rodeo Pen in Floral Farms

Above is what remains of the Pig Park Rodeo in the Floral Farms ghost town/neighborhood. The Pig Park Rodeo began in the late 1970s-early 1980s by two brothers and ran into the early 1990s. The rodeo was very popular with people in the area. I'm still asked about it, where it is, what is left, will it come back.

Joppa Rodeo Arena Pig Park Rodeo
Above is what is left of the Joppa Rodeo Arena. A dilapidated fence marks the boundary of the old arena. In the background are sets of old wooden pens to hold animals used in the rodeo. The concentric ring you see in the arena is used by current horseback riders for training. Under the weeds, the pillow soft sandy loam  of the arena still exists making an ideal place to train a horse. You can find the location of this old arena on Google Earth. Just look for the figure 8!

Father and son riding with the setting sun on the future Trinity Trail

So...close one chapter and begin a new one. The city says it wants to open the trail October 23, 2011. I'm not sure that is possible with the ongoing large open pit water main project scheduled for completion in 2012. I sincerely hope it's not another case of putting the cart before the horse like the Dallas Wave Park where it is opened then promptly closed. We'll see.

It would be fitting if the trail would open on October 23rd as that date is made famous in the Old Chisholm Trail song. There are 1000 different versus and variations sung by Leadbelly, Roy Rogers, Woodie Guthrie...but the first few lines have always stood the test of time:

Oh, come along boys and listen to my tale
I’ll tell you all my troubles on the ol’ Chisholm trail

On a ten dollar horse and a forty dollar saddle
I was ridin’ and a-punchin’ Texas cattle

We left ol’ Texas October twenty-third
Drivin’ up the trail with the U-2 herd

I’m up every mornin’ before daylight
And before I sleep the moon shines bright

Friday, September 16, 2011

Coombs Creek Trail Oak Cliff

Coombs Creek Trail along Kessler Parkway

The handful of times I have ridden this trail it seems I am shadowed by house gawkers driving up Kessler Parkway in their vehicles at 10 mph looking at the homes that line the street. Time to get out of your cars and hit the trail. Part of the Dallas Trail Network Plan, the Coombs Creek Trail in Oak Cliff offers access to the Trinity River Levee Trails and Oak Cliff along the winding Coombs Creek. Phase I of the trail completed within the last year sits at about 1.5 miles in length with another half mile of soft surface dirt trail on the north end that skirts the edge of a dirt berm and levee spillway for the creek. Trail runs from the Stevens Park Golf Course near the Tennis Courts(south end) and roughly terminates behind the Lone Star Doughnuts Bakery on Beckley(north end). The Coombs Creek Trail affords easier access to the Trinity River Levee than most other routes coming from Oak Cliff. While the trail does not quite reach the levees, it remains the best option at the moment for access to/from this part of town.

Coombs Creek Trail Kessler Parkway @ Sylvan

Below is the current southern end of the trail where it dead ends at the Stevens Park Golf Course near Kessler Parkway and Edgefield. Future plans include a build out towards Cockrell Hill.

Southern end of Coombs Creek Trail at Stevens Park Golf Course

The southern end of the trail abruptly stops just on the south side of the Tennis Courts. Plans are in the works to expand the trail south at some point. Until then, the city seems to tolerate foot traffic on the golf paths through the golf course. Most public courses require a green fee to be paid prior to entering a golf course, Stevens Park seems to have made an exception per this sign:

The cart path and elevation changes are really not suited for a bicycle. Better to bail out onto Kessler Parkway if you are using the Coombs Creek Trail as a route to travel to points beyond. This is not that bad of a route to take from the Katy Trail over to the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve since you avoid much of the traffic drama around the Bishop Arts District, Jefferson Blvd and some of the schools. Matter of fact, its the main reason I'm even mentioning a neighborhood trail like this. This trail completely works around Methodist Hospital, the somewhat heavier traffic and the hills. It's a low traffic to traffic free option if you want to explore this neighborhood.

Stevens Park Tennis Courts lower left with Bank of America Tower in the distance

The Coombs Creek Trail is nearly tabletop flat the entire length. Sylvan Avenue is the only large street to cross and the traffic signals/crosswalk are decent for what Dallas usually offers. Kessler Parkway and the Coombs Creek Trail were purpose designed as a flat winding road on what amounts to a bench cut in the Oak Cliff outcropping. Nearly 90 years ago, County Commissioner Ledbetter of Cockrell Hill wanted a scenic drive from Downtown Dallas, through newly minted Oak Cliff to Cockrell Hill. His vision was to build Kessler Parkway along the creek. To do it he needed to physically move the meandering creek to the west and take out much of the undulating rock in the way. Without a large budget, he simply emptied the Dallas County Jail and used large chain gangs of prisoners to clear the creek and build the roadbed.

Wildflowers on Coombs Creek Trail south of Sylvan

Much of the Coombs Creek Trail is shaded by large pecan and oak trees. The creek stays to the immediate west of the trail the entire length. Coombs Creek is actually misspelled. The creek is named after William Coombes, the first pioneer to settle this part of Dallas. He arrived in 1843 from Kentucky with two oxen, a wife, a parrot, a cat and a frying pan. He built the first log cabin in West Dallas near what is now Fort Worth Avenue.

Coombs Creek Trail soft surface section looking south towards paved section

The paved portion of the trail ends 1.5 miles from the Stevens Park Golf Course. From there the trail is soft surface as it approaches Beckley. There is a short and somewhat steep rise to the top of a flood protection levee and gate.

View of Calatrava Bridge from top of Coombs Creek Flood Protection Levee

From the point above you can get a good view of the Calatrava Bridge and Downtown Dallas. Here you can continue to follow the soft surface trail around the top of the levee as it curls around to the south and west.

Coombs Creek Flood Protection Gate
The gate above pumps water from Coombs Creek under Beckley and then over the Trinity Levee just east of the I-30 bridge. This structure was originally built in the late 1920s. It was rebuilt when I-30(the turnpike) was built decades later. Someone got the bright idea in the 1920s that this U shaped high walled levee would make an excellent backstop for bullets. It became the official Dallas Police Department firing range for about 15 years. Here many police officers and even civilians were trained in marksmanship.

Coombs Creek when it was a Dallas Police Department gun range

The photo above was taken in the same spot as the levee and gate photo. Dallas had a substantial civilian marksmanship program at this range where many women were taught how to use firearms during World War II.

Coombs Creek Spillway

If you continue around the levee on the soft surface trail, it will eventually come to an end at the Coombs Creek Spillway across from the main Dallas Post Office on I-30. Many people who frequent I-30 have seen the spillway which serves as an emergency floodway in case of a biblical flood.

View of Downtown Dallas from Coombs Creek Trail

If you want to get from the Coombs Creek Trail to the levees, note the photo above. Travel down the dirt road, through the gate and down the alley to the left. Beckley is on the other side of the building in the photo. In the distance you can see the levee road which will put you at the immediate east of the I-30 bridge. The alignment I have described above is one of the routes the city had on the drawing board to lengthen the Coombs Creek Trail to the levee.

Under the I-30 bridge looking towards the Large Marge

One other interesting public works project along Coombs Creek is the Kidd Springs drainage where it flows into Coombs Creek

Kidd Springs where it enters Coombs Creek

When the Trinity River was moved from its ancient bed to the new floodway, many of the old creeks and tributaries had to be rerouted too. One example is Kidd Springs. Seen above in it's current outlet, the creek flows underground 1500 feet and drops vertically almost 100 feet to meet Coombs Creek.  This was a large undertaking in 1930 when it was constructed. Nearly all of it was dug through solid rock and once again, prisoner chain gangs were used to do some of the work. It was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Below is a 1930 photo of the same spot in the photo above

Kidd Springs at Coombs Creek

1930 photo of the Kidd Springs aqueduct through Oak Cliff

The photo above shows the massive undertaking. Until the drainage system for Central Expressway was built in the 1990s, this particular project was the deepest drainage tunnel in Dallas.

Home on Kessler Parkway @ Cedar Hill

The Coombs Creek Trail is only a 10 minute bike ride from the Katy Trail. Simply ride over the Continental Street Viaduct, get on the levee road, go up over the levee at I-30 and cross Beckley.
I think many recent transplants to Dallas or architecture snobs would really gain a unique point of view and new perspective to town visiting this area on foot or bike. Like most neighborhoods in Dallas, residents hate people looking at their homes from cars but always seem to welcome those walking a dog or riding a bike. This part of Dallas resembles Highland Park with hills. Check it out.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dallas Trinity River Levee Trail and new Trinity Trail Initiative

Running through the heart of Dallas at 30 feet high and over 24 miles in length, the Trinity River levees in Dallas have a combined 40 miles of dirt access roads open to the public. An additional 9 miles of soft surface trail are currently under construction inside the levees. The end goal is to connect the Katy Trail, the Trinity River Trails inside the levees, Trinity Strand Trail and the Oak Cliff neighborhood.  The current access roads are utilitarian and serve the maintenance and construction needs of the levees. Good for heavy vehicles not so much for jogging, walking a dog or riding a bike. In the summer of 2011 an initiative was started to bring a new trail concept to the Trinity between the levees. One that would be more attractive to the average Dallasite and serve more of a recreation base than what the current access roads offer. The levee road and future trail are only minutes from the Katy Trail on the north side of the river and one minute from the Coombs Creek Trail that feeds in from Kessler Park on the south side of the river.

Many of the yet-to-be-constructed trails for the Trinity are bought and paid for with bond money as far back as 1996. Tangled in budgets, long range planning and government bureaucracy many of the planned trails are still in the distant future. Years away. The Trinity trail initiative was designed as a quick win solution to put something, anything down between the levees that people could enjoy sooner rather than later.

You can read more about the detailed specifics of the new Trinity Trail near Downtown here on the Team Better Block website:

A couple of city bridge and pump station projects will limit access to the levees in the near future. The closure of Sylvan Avenue for a new Sylvan Avenue Bridge will close Crow Park and the parking lot. The Pavaho Pump Project also commands a good chunk of real estate on the south levee near the Continental Bridge. Another issue is the pace of construction at the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. The trestle trail will serve as a vital crossing point at the southern terminus of the levee. Until the trestle is complete it will be hard for visitors to enjoy both sides of the river.

Best Access Points:

From the Katy Trail by bike:

Option 1:Ride down to the American Airlines Center, hang a right at the Hard Rock Cafe and go out Continental. You can cross the Continental Bridge to access the south levee from here -or- weave between the buildings that back up to the levee and climb the levee with your bike.

Option 2: Ride down to the American Airlines Center, head north on Victory Avenue under I-35. You will make a left on Oak Lawn where the Meddlesome Moth is located. Head south a couple blocks to where Oak Lawn dead-ends at Levee Street. Weave your way between a building and get up on the levee.

Either route takes less than 5 minutes from the Katy Trail. The route past the Meddlesome Moth is probably more low key traffic wise but does not offer the option of getting to the south side of the river.

From Oak Cliff:

Best route from the Arts District or Kessler Park is to hop on the Coombs Creek Trail to where it dead ends behind the Lone Star Doughnut Factory on Beckley. Cross the street and hop on the levee from there. From the Oak Cliff side you have more options for access to the levee since Canada Drive affords easier access.

The new trail is still in a rough cut form at the present time. Below are some photos from over the Labor Day Weekend showing the basic outline of where the trail is headed. Still in a "rough draft" form but easily rideable on a mountain bike. I believe the goal is to make it accessible enough for a baby stroller. Some sections that is already possible.

Newly cut Trinity River Trail between Commerce Street Bridge and Union Pacific Trestle

Trinity River Hike and Bike Trail under construction I-35 Bridge in distance looking west

Newly marked Trinity River Connector Trail east of Trammell Crow Park looking east towards Calatrava Bridge. This would be about where Oak Lawn dead ends at the levee

The levee system was built as a result of the tragic 1908 floods that engulfed much of Dallas. First planned by George Kessler in 1910, the plan was to straighten out the Trinity and limit the dangerous flooding in the future. Leslie Allen Stemmons was the visionary that saw it to completion in the early 1930s. The first levees of the 1930s were smaller and less robust than the ones we see today. Over the years many improvements have been made to keep up with the ever evolving requirements set forth by the Corps of Engineers.

Hawk near the Calatrava Bridge carrying what I believe to be possum parts as viewed from newly cut Trinity Trail
Stemmons created the 10,000 acre Trinity Industrial District out of the now reclaimed river bottoms which contribute an estimated 18% of the tax base for the city. The I-35 corridor, World Trade Center, Anatole Hotel, American Airlines Center and Trinity Design District now sit where the Trinity once flowed. The Trinity Strand Trail will follow the old riverbed through this area.

Map showing portion of Old Trinity River channel alignment

Many access points exist to get onto the road and trail. The formal trail that the City of Dallas has designated as the Trinity River Levee Trail runs from Trammel Crow Park on Sylvan Avenue to the Westmoreland Bridge upstream, across the old Westmoreland Bridge, then back to Sylvan Avenue. The city spent $300,000 to improve the levee road in this area to make it more of an all weather surface with gravel and brick dust. Best way to enjoy this stretch of trail is to travel clockwise since one has the best view of Downtown Dallas facing downstream from the south levee on the Oak Cliff side. This section is 6 miles in length total as a loop. It is also what one could call an "all weather surface". It drains well after a rain and can be walked on after weeks of wet weather. The majority of the levee roads throughout the levee system become a nasty gumbo like mess of blackland mud. Avoid.

Old Westmoreland Mockingbird Bridge over Trinity River. New Westmoreland Bridge built above old.

Photo above shows the old Westmoreland Bridge that was left intact when the new bridge was built in the 1970s. It provides an excellent crossing point if you are coming down the levee from Bachman Lake or from the Mountain Creek area.

The bridge is unofficially called the Bonnie and Clyde Bridge. Given the name since the two notorious outlaws once called this part of Dallas home and used the bridge frequently since they lived on opposite sides of the river from one another. Earlier in the post is a map showing the old river alignment. If you click on it to see a larger version you can get an idea of the hellhole West Dallas once was. A lawless area of murderers, crooks and no goods. Open pit dumps, gravel pits and raw sewage. Much of that has changed and the only telltale that there was once a dump in the area is the small shards of glass that glitter on the lower levee road near the Westmoreland Bridge on the south side. In that era most of the trash was still organic in nature, lots of paper products, plant/animal parts with the exception being glass. That's what you see.

Note: Access to the Trinity River Levees is limited to non-motorized vehicles, pedestrians and horse traffic. Driving a personal vehicle, motorcycle or ATV on the levee road is forbidden and subject to a fine.

Outside of the designated 6 mile loop between Sylvan and Westmoreland, I would suggest using a bicycle of some kind for exploring the levees rather than on foot. With a lack of facilities such as water fountains or restrooms, seeing it on foot becomes rather difficult. A bicycle with wide tires such as a mountain bike, cyclocross bike or even a beach cruiser will work well. The road surface varies from hardpack dirt to loose sand and gravel depending on the section you are riding.

View of Oak Cliff as seen from the end of the levee trail where Mountain Creek crosses under I-30 at the Dallas/Grand Prairie city limits

The photo above shows the end of the levee trail as it approaches I-30 at the Dallas/Grand Prairie border. In the distance you can see the abrupt rise of Oak Cliff and Chalk Hill in the background. A crude ATV trail exists under I-30 and towards Mountain Creek Lake. These trails are a rats nest of trails that only doubleback on themselves and not worth the effort of exploring. The trail surface above is typical of what one finds on the south levee. Pea to marble sized gravel, some places looser than others. As one travels further west on the levees the feel becomes more rural. You pass a couple rodeo rings, horse stables, chicken coops and the random piece of wandering livestock.

Trinity River Levee Trail and spring wildflowers from north levee
The same rural feel holds true heading up the north levee as it begins the gradual swing towards Bachman Lake and Love Field. The levees deaden much of the sound of the city.

Since the area inside the levees is a floodway, the prairie space in the floodplain can remain marshy and muddy for months after a rain. Take caution if you decide to venture off the establish roads as the underlying soil is often mud.

Wetland Pond near Downtown Dallas inside the levees

The marshy wetland above runs from the Sylvan Avenue Bridge to the recently built Calatrava Bridge. Quite a bit of poison ivy in this section and quite a few snakes as well. Flash flooding in this area is not an issue. After a storm, much of the water must be physically pumped over the levees by a series of large pump stations strategically placed to de-water areas behind the levees.

Houston Street Viaduct and Cliff Towers as viewed from Trinity Levee Trail
The Houston Street Viaduct recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Built in 1910 it was the world's longest concrete bridge at the time at a price of $600,000. The bridge was formally dedicated and opened on February 22, 1912. The bridge was originally constructed to include streetcar tracks, two sets. That never came to be a reality. The bridge now serves as a one-way north to south route from Downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

If you look carefully along the river channel you can find long abandoned bridges and roads that once served long forgotten areas like Eagle Ford and the old Singleton Road alignment.

One stop worth visiting is at the southeast corner of the Commerce Street Bridge. Here you get a decent view of Downtown Dallas and some basic background information on the Trinity River Project. Some of the information is outdated with projects that have been cancelled or are on hold.

Trinity River Overlook on southeast corner of Commerce Street Bridge

Trinity River Project Overview Panels

Levee Trail users in West Dallas

Despite the lack of a great running surface and limited access, many West Dallas residents use the levee top trail between Sylvan and Westmoreland in the evenings. Access to a quality facility such as a sidewalk or path in their neighborhood simply does not exist. While the planned Bernal Trail will help add to the infrastructure, long neglected areas like West Dallas simply lack the right kind of areas where people can stretch their legs. In addition, there is not any access to the levees via footbridge catwalk. The residents who use the levee trail in this area must navigate through the often swampy wet areas on the back side of the levees to reach the trail. It's cool to see people making the best of what they have and taking the initiative to get off the couch in the evenings.

Video clip of the moon rising behind the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in June of 2011. I had a general idea of where the moon would rise that evening but due to the haze on the horizon and some high clouds to the east, that trip was a bust. So, I just setup a spare camera on a tripod down near the bank of the river and let it run for half an hour unsupervised. There are so few people that ever get down in the floodplain that I was probably a mile or more away from the camera as it filmed. I was not concerned that anyone would come by and take it.