Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dallas with a water view?

About a year ago, Nancy Marsden requested and received permission to create a butterfly garden at beach access # 5. She neither asked for nor received any assistance or funding from the town for this project. She provided all the plants, planted them herself and even hauled water from her house to keep them alive during the dry season. The payoff was watching them grow and mature and actually attract butterflies.

I found Nancy to be a great inspiration, and a few months back when I started making stepping stones for my own garden I made some of them in the shape of butterflies for her to install at the beach access garden. Nancy personified civic pride with her energy and willingness to create a beautiful public space for all to enjoy while asking nothing in return.

Well, yesterday the city crew moved in and basically decimated the garden. They tore out anything that didn’t look like it belonged in a Dallas garden and even broke one of the butterfly stepping stones while they were at it. Why? Who knows? They probably thought they were “tidying things up” but what they did was utterly destroy a small but important - to some of us - oasis of our native flora.

On my street alone, six lots of native plantlife have been bulldozed and paved over within the past year. If no one makes a conscious effort to protect and propagate local plants, we may as well kiss the butterflies, birds and other native flora and fauna goodbye. The much-vaunted “World Birding Center” could very easily become a big ugly monument to the birds that used to live here, back when the plants that attracted them to this area in the first place still thrived.

The town authorities talk a good talk about ecotourism but it is becoming increasingly clear that all they are doing is “greenwashing.“ Worse, they are actually and actively undoing the efforts of honest to goodness defenders of the native habitat.

For shame.


Blogger Sam said...

I think the Palofoxia is what put Nancy over ... although I do have to say they should self-seed and come back.

And, I'm sure the the Public Works crews didn't mean any harm, since they are not trained in native plant culture.

But in a way, unless some so-called "master gardener" comes in us locals (who are quite successful at growing native plants) will probably have to confine our activites to our yards.

To think I was going to put together a crew with Nancy to help maintain the bayside street end planters ... well I guess that's off right now.

But let's not give up, and there is a ton of wild plants yet to save because of all the construction. Yup, I guess you could say we're thieves! /sammie

3:56 PM  
Blogger just wandering said...

the idea of some signage on the garden(s) and notifying the public works about the areas might help to keep it protected. As for the street end planters, I bet we can still handle that, Sam. I sure would help and again if public works is informed about it, we should be covered!

5:15 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I don't know, Just Wandering, the Town is real wierd about public accesses and having the natives maintain them.

On one hand, Public Works is not funded with enough cash or full time employees to do everything, just the major stuff. They could use some help.

On the other hand, many note that citizen groups tend to come and go and never stay together very long, and these groups (or individuals) might not be very dependible 5-10 years in the future. Plus, all that land in the Right of Way is a Town responsibility and liability, one they cannot give to any group or person unless there's a title transfer.

Here's my positive, constructive thought for the day: the Town needs an environmental officer to help coordinate the spills, fills, water line breaks, erosion, native plantings, and all that good stuff. I bet one could get some grant funding for half a FTE or use college interns ... but something should be done ASAP. /sammie

6:18 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

An environmental officer! Sam, you have (once again) hit on the perfect solution. That is exactly what is needed here.

Which is probably why it will never happen.

6:37 PM  

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