Dallas' Best Kept Secret?
July 5, 2012 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Proving that Dallas is slightly more than concrete, SUVs and bad air quality, the Great Trinity Forest is home to birds, deer, bobcats, badgers, alligators and even a seven foot nine inch, 200 pound alligator gar named Garzilla as documented in the excellent blog Dallas Trinity Trails.

The forest is also home to one of the last flowing natural springs in north Texas, producing water that nourished Sam Houston and countless Native Americans throughout the centuries.

So you want to go to there? You might want to read the Dallas Observer article, Great Trinity Forest Ain't So Great first.

Related Reading:
Living with the Trinity
Trinity River Authority
Trinity River Audubon Center
The River and Why We Are Here
Attempts to make the Trinity a navigable waterway from Fort Worth to the Gulf of Mexico
Trinity River History
DFW Urban Wildlife documenting the diverse wildlife that calls north central Texas home including the which is so badass it adapted to live in burrows in open fields well away from standing water.
posted by punkfloyd (11 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I like how the forest formed after the city didn't clean up after flooding (undoubtably caused by chronic mismanagement of the Trinity's flood planes farther north) and this is Dallas' claim to not being an urban wasteland.
posted by cmoj at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry to tack a tangent at the front of the thread, but as a child I was utterly fascinated with biology. Like, really fascinated. There was one evening when my grandmother asked if I'd like her to read me a bedtime story and I--all super excited kid like--pulled a college level entomology book off the shelf.

Even though I've forgotten almost everything I knew as a child, this fascination with life and its wildly, stunningly diverse forms has never left me. Had my life been tweaked just a little, it's obvious what fields I'd end up in.

One of the things that keeps that fascination alive is that it's still a regular experience for me to become casually aware of some amazing animal I either was once aware of and completely forgot or had absolutely no idea existed at all. A few years ago it was frilled sharks. Today it's alligator gars. I'm fairly sure I've seen one before, but I'd forgotten all about them. I love the idea that we still have these weird giant Ichthyosaur-y fish.

Thanks, punkfloyd!

Now to click the other things.
posted by byanyothername at 11:36 AM on July 5, 2012

I had no idea - thanks for this post!
posted by jhandey at 11:50 AM on July 5, 2012

This is awesome. I'm going to be there next week. Will check it out. Thanks for this post!
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on July 5, 2012

This sounds pretty cool. Next time I am visiting the fam. I will have to check this out!
posted by rosswald at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2012

(also, you are missing a word or two about the "Parkhill Prairie Crayfish" in your last line)
posted by rosswald at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2012

This brings to mind Goodbye to a River, which is one of the best works of Texana that I've read. It's alternately a personal journal, a history of the land and a lovely meditation on what it means to be an outdoorsman. Gaves is kind to both the land & the people, even though they're frequently at odds.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:55 PM on July 5, 2012

While we still have guys robbing people in "safer" parts of Dallas, you should exercise good judgement if planning a visit to the Great Trinity Forest. This is not the kind of area young ladies should visit alone.
posted by punkfloyd at 12:59 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Admins...can you help? (add "Parkhill Prairie Crayfish") .... including the which is so badass ...
posted by punkfloyd at 1:01 PM on July 5, 2012

and this is Dallas' claim to not being an urban wasteland.
posted by cmoj at 1:31 PM on July 5

Setting aside the issue of the merit of the "Great Trinity Forest" and that it ignores some pockets of enjoyable nature, this comment strikes me as exceedingly misplaced. I presume you are echoing the complaint I often here about Dallas not having great nature or greenspaces; that it is instead a massively populated city. But I always wonder why this criticism is levied. It is expecting something of Dallas that never was. Criticizing Dallas for being too urban and not having any great scenery strikes me as the same as criticizing the desert for not having enough greenery or Denver for not having enough beaches. Dallas is Dallas because of its urban development.

Dallas is flat and has a humid subtropical climate. It was built on savanna and prairie. It has a massively fluctuating and unnavigable river. In the early days, this would have otherwise stifled growth because people could come to it on bays or through navigable rivers. It has no natural advantage as to why it is a city. An old writer for the DMN noted "But what’s there here to put a city beside, or over, or near? Nothing. Dallas is its own confident reason for being and has been since birth."

Dallas is, in the words of SMU historian Herbert Gambrell "an example of a city that man has made, with a little help from nature and practically none from Providence." It is one of the very few major cities that survived and thrived based only on its own determinism, having no other reason for its existence.

And despite this lack of compelling nature or natural reason for being, the DFW metroplex has become the 4th largest metropolitan area in the country, accomplished solely by the character and determination of its people. It is the people and what they offer that brought and brings people to Dallas--not a bay, port, lake major river, or overwhelming beauty. Dallas became what it is despite the lack of great nature. So using the derisive critique that is a urban "wasteland" strikes me as a misplaced criticism, it never claimed to be a city of nature. And no one came to Dallas for that purpose. Just like no one goes to Denver because of its great beaches.

Now, putting all of that aside, I am glad that Dallas is making efforts at environmental development, developing greenspaces, and outdoor recreation, even if those efforts never amount to anything impressive (compared to other cities of natural beauty or sublimity). I support it for two reasons: I'd like to enjoy it with my family and because it will help make Dallas an even better city. And hopefully it will put a damper on the lazy critique of Dallas as an "urban wasteland" as if there is no nature at all.
posted by dios at 4:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

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