Groundwork Dallas had an exceptionally good year and next year is already gearing up to be better. We have a relationship with the City of Dallas that has never been better and we have created several new partnerships. Working with the City of Dallas and our new partners will help us achieve our goal of providing educational and employment opportunities for our low income, underserved, and homeless youth. Together, we will also transform the Elm Fork and Great Trinity Forest into the finest outdoor urban recreational areas in the state. This year’s accomplishments include:
Green Team Youth Program
The Green Team Program expanded in 2016 to include two additional Dallas Independent School District high schools: North Dallas HS and Moise E. Molina HS. These schools are aware of the impact environmental conservation and hands-on learning can have on youth lives. Groundwork Dallas partnered with these schools to provide an afterschool program that focuses on the Dallas ecosystem. The students are also encouraged to participate in Saturday service days where they work towards developing and maintaining natural environments while gaining job skills. Through this expansion, we have grown our active Green Team to 23 members.
This park is a long-forgotten city park that Groundwork Dallas adopted. The park grounds and lake were overwhelmed with trash, which has taken years to clean up, and it is now one of the most beautiful natural areas on Harry Hines Boulevard. The completion of phase one improvements at Hines Park include a loop trail constructed around the lake. Trail features include one bridge and four benches situated in beautifully forested areas that allow for observations of the lake, birds, and other wildlife. Phase two will include a bird observation deck, boardwalk, and an amphitheater. Groundwork Dallas will use these amenities for summer environmental programs and film screenings.
Fraiser Dam Park (Placemark Name)
The planning process for Fraiser Dam Park, a stone’s throw from Hines Park, began several years ago. With Hines Park phase one completed, we are now in full construction mode to clean up the trash and debris, and develop a park that will include eight miles of multi-use trail, open grassy fields for picnics or sport activities, benches, tables, and boardwalks. This park will also include canoe/kayak put-ins/take-outs which will allow easy access for paddling the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Scheduled completion: 2017
Trash and Debris Removal
Working with our Green Team Youth and volunteers, we removed 30,794 pounds of trash and debris from the Elm Fork Greenbelt and Hines Park. This was made possible by an increase in volunteers that worked to improve our environment. In 2015, 83 individuals volunteered to fight for a cleaner tomorrow. These numbers have increased to 143 volunteers within the Dallas region and now total 894 man-hours of restoration for the Trinity River and downstream waterways. Let’s acknowledge and celebrate these environmental heroes. They’re making Dallas a greener, healthier city.
Natural Surface Trail Construction
In addition to the Hines Park Loop Trail, we also improved trails at Scyene Overlook, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at Cedar Hill, Kiest Park, and the Longhorn Council’s Sid Richardson Ranch.
Richard Buckley accepted the position of executive director in May of this year. Richard is a retired Army officer who served as a Scout Attack Pilot, Instructor Pilot, Maintenance Test Pilot Instructor, Safety Officer, and Tactical Mission Planning Officer. Other positions included company executive officer, platoon leader, production control officer, and quality control officer. After retiring from the Army, he accepted plant manager positions for Demilec, a chemical manufacturing plant, and Kerr Industries, an emergency vehicle upfit company. He also started a low-cost, professionally-taught, trail building school called the Lone Star Trail Building School. The school has taught trail building concepts to National Park Service Rangers, Texas State Park Rangers, city parks and recreation managers, bicycle club members, and community volunteers. Rick was approached by Garrett Boone to serve as operations director and develop the Elm Fork into a National Park-quality environment. Rick considered it for several months before accepting the position and now we are in full construction mode completing Garrett’s vision for the Elm Fork.
Green Team Youth Leader
Melissa Guevara began her career as an urban environmentalist at the Science Barge as a weekend docent and plant caretaker. As a youth, she joined the Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team and continued to participate as both a Green Team Member and docent for three years. Melissa continued her skill development by working with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Steward as a seasonal trail builder. In the summers of 2014 and 2015, she worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.
During her tenure at Wallkill River NWR, she worked to develop the partnership between the refuge and Groundwork Hudson Valley. Melissa coordinated events that provided children and young adults with programming that allowed them access to the country’s natural environment. As she finished her bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Urban Studies, Melissa knew that any job that she obtained would have to support her belief that all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, deserve the opportunity to dream and pursue a career in the environmental field. Melissa was hired as the Youth Program Coordinator for Groundwork Dallas.
From all of us with Groundwork Dallas, thank you to all our volunteers for all the work and support you have offered to help revitalize the Trinity River Corridor. We hope that you will all continue to spread our message because, together we can change the Dallas region for the better. As the holiday season goes into full-swing, please consider donating to Groundwork Dallas. Your tax-deductible donation helps us purchase trash bags, build trails, fuel our equipment, and allows Green Team members to pursue and realize their full potential. Happy Holidays! We hope to see you in 2017 for another year of Changing Places, Changing Lives.
Submitted by Scott Eddy, Groundwork Dallas Board