Dallas’ hybrid reputation of urban cowboy-ism has its roots reinforced by preserved open prairie land, south of its downtown area limits. Home to the Trinity River and largest urban hardwood forest in the United States, the Great Trinity Forest, the ten thousand acres of protected space represent a recent transformation which honors the expansive history of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Areas included in the corridor have been inhabited for centuries, with historic Native American land- protected by farmers still residing there. Management of the floods from the Trinity River initially drew attention to the areas’ development needs, which only continued as part of the land became a toxic landfill, garnering several complaints after fires burned for days without attention.
Until recently, the area’s reputation was linked closely to illegal transactions and other dangerous criminal activity. While transformation began in 1998 with a $246 million bond for the Trinity River Corridor Project, changes only began to be realized for the public in the past ten years. In 2008, the LEED-Certified Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC) opened within the forests’ limits as a local branch of the national Audubon Society. It acts as a means to educate Dallas residents and visitors on the qualities of the habitat and importance of its preservation. One hundred and twenty acres of landfill was cleaned up and now includes four miles of trails and the TRAC facility – which hosts kayak excursions, “Birding Basics” for adults, and summer camps for kids.
The space remains one to be continually managed and developed; becoming an integral part of Dallas’ shared space. Future plans include a golf course (to host the famous Byron Nelson golf tournament) and therapeutic equestrian facility. These initiatives, along with others like Connected City, an open competition for designers to propose means of connecting Dallas to the Trinity River, are paving the way for this previously derelict space to become an asset for Dallas residents.
Where are the dilapidated areas in your city? How could or are they being restored?
Credits: Images by Christine Cepelak and linked to source. Data linked to sources.