Friday, March 18, 2016

Trinity River Audubon Center

Had a day of volunteering with colleagues from Texas Instruments at the Trinity River Audubon Center. First of all, I never realized a place so beautiful and pristine was so close to downtown Dallas.

After taking a shuttle through the city, on a very gray overcast day  we arrived at the gates of the nature preserve. It’s the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States at 6,000 acres.

Besides the hardwood forest, there is a wetland and remnants of the black land prairie. On our tour we learned about switch grass, invasive Johnson grass which some of our group worked to remove and the three hundred species of birds that pass through the refuge.

The bird-shaped visitor center is composed of recycled materials, from blue jeans insulating the ceiling to renewable bamboo for the flooring. The windows of the building are slanted to avoid the chance of bird strikes and all water that hits the roof is easily collected and recycled.

It’s nice to see an idea that works. This beautiful landscape was once an illegal dumping site which took the city three years to clean up and now it is a pristine landscape that is a testament to people caring about nature and nature restoring itself.

We looked for the screech owls that are nesting now, listened to a Pileated woodpecker and learned about all the different mammals that leave their tracks on the muddy trails, including bobcat, coyotes and deer.

The river and its way of changing the landscape was our project as well. We moved granite rock to cover the muddy trails that the flooding caused.

It was great to see coworkers unite for a cause and I must admit their work ethic was as impressive in volunteering as it is with projects at TI. It truly is a great bunch of people to work with.

I am planning on getting back for birds and brew and the night walks calling for owls. I still am amazed how close a beautiful landscape is to the city and it’s nice to see environmental projects that work and improve our community.

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