Elm Fork Green Belt
Our current area of focus is on the Green Belt of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. This Project will turn this overlooked piece of natural beauty in the heart of Dallas into a world class ecological education and recreation center open to the public. Almost 800 acres of urban wilderness. You will not believe what we have in our own backyard.
The Elm Fork Green Belt Project has 4 foci: The Adopt-A-Trail program, the Eco-Classroom, Educational Partnerships and a trash abatement program.
This program is designed to create a 9+ mile soft surface trail system in the green belt utilizing existing trails carved out by illegal ATV usage in the area. The system is divided into .5 mile segments that are adoptable for corporations and individuals. Once adopted, the segment will be refurbished and prepared by Groundwork Dallas, and will be maintained by the adopting entity under the supervision of Groundwork Dallas. Adopting a trail provides several tangible benefits to companies including: marketing (through signage, publicity in local and national publications, access to a nationwide network of Groundwork partners), creating a corporate culture of service (encourages philanthropy amongst employees, merchandises philanthropic culture to recruits), and social goodwill (creates a company legacy, fosters goodwill with the City of Dallas, and an extensive network of national partners including the EPA and the NPS). Companies (or individuals) can adopt segments for $10,000 which will be used for equipment, training, and for preparing the trails. This program is vital to the success of the Elm Fork Green Belt project. It will open up the incredible beauty of the area to the public for hiking, biking, birding, and eventually canoeing and kayaking. Contact Groundwork Dallas to adopt your segment of the Elm Fork Green Belt.
The Eco-Classroom is currently being created in the Elm Fork Green Belt by Groundwork Dallas, BC Workshop, and the City of Dallas. The classroom is happening in two phases. The first phase is a temporary trailhead field base. The location of the field base and a mock-up can be seen in the photos. This field base will serve as a trailhead, first-aid station, and equipment storage to support the work being done in the Elm Fork. This field base is being constructed using 20′ shipping containers, repurposed pallet slats, and recycled vinyl from an old billboard. In addition, there will be a system of shade canopies placed near the apex of the ‘light orange’ loop seen in the photo. This will provide shelter for the Green Team and other educational partners who are working in the Elm Fork. This phase is intentionally temporary and moveable.
Phase 2 will be a permanent structure that has been designed by BC Workshop and will serve as an outdoor classroom for ongoing study, lectures, and events in the Elm Fork. This phase is being planned in conjunction with the Elm Fork Master Plan and the Spine Trail plan being undertaken. We are confident this space will be a very important part of these plans, and are excited to see what the future holds for the Elm Fork and Groundwork Dallas!
We have several partnerships with such groups as the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M Kingsville, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, the Perot Museum, Texas State Parks and Wildlife, the Lyle School of Engineering, and the Texas Stream Team to name a few. These partnerships serve both an educational and environmental purpose. These groups will utilize the Elm Fork Green Belt as a laboratory to study the extremely diverse habitats present: watershed, riparian, hardwood forest, and floodplain. Each partnership has a different focus. The Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, for example, is interested in the native bobcat and ocelot populations in the Elm Fork Green Belt. Other partners are doing plant transects, core sampling, and water monitoring.
Of course, these will help Groundwork Dallas understand the habitat in the green belt more completely, and will aid us in the repair and restoration of the area. These partnerships will also allow for a mentor relationship to form between the partners and our Green Team students. Students will gain invaluable knowledge and experience from our partners, and our partners gain a willing and enthusiastic volunteer corps for their work. This type of synergy is something that motivates us here at Groundwork Dallas, and we are thrilled to have this program in place.
Sadly, this is one of the more immediate needs within the green belt. The Elm Fork Green Belt sits in a floodplain, and thus is highly susceptible to floatable refuse like plastic bottles, styrofoam, and (interestingly enough) discarded shoes. In the past 3 years, Groundwork Dallas has removed nearly 40 tons of trash from the greenbelt and surrounding areas, and the job is nowhere near complete. It is going to take a massive volunteer effort–and that’s EXACTLY what we’re going to do. We’re teaming up with businesses, schools, breweries, individuals, book clubs–any group of concerned citizens–and we’re getting the trash out of the Elm Fork.