Marshall Creek (Near Dallas TX) - Listed By The Sierra Club

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    What future nature?
    Sierra Club lists state's natural spots, their threats and salvation
    By RANDY LEE LOFTIS / The Dallas Morning News
    Far out in southwestern Dallas County, where new homes are crowding out old
    native oaks, open land is still available, but for what future -
    construction or conservation - no one knows.
    And in Denton County, a piece of parkland marked with off-road vehicle
    tracks also awaits a decision. In Tarrant County, a bit of wooded wetland
    survives despite the pressure of surrounding development.
    The same uncertainty confronts natural spots all over Texas, the Sierra Club
    says in a new report. The organization tapped some of its 23,000 members in
    Texas to identify many of the state's "special places," as well as the
    threats they face and possible means of saving them.
    The places range from the state's watery northeast at Caddo Lake to its
    hard, dry southwest at Big Bend. In between are coastal marshes and Hill
    Country canyons, as well as nearly a dozen sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth
    The threats run the gamut from water wars to suburban expansion - a
    phenomenon that is consuming about one square mile of Texas' open space
    every four days, according to some estimates.
    In some cases, the group says, only state or federal action will protect the
    endangered resources. But in others - including all of the urban North Texas
    tracts - the solution is likely to be a local one: a city or county land-use
    decision, or land acquisition by a local government or conservation group.
    Endangered species
    Some tracts are part of the historical habitat of endangered species, such
    as the hilly Cedar Hill area, where a black-capped vireo might still sing in
    some isolated spot.
    "As long as we keep losing these spaces, we're going to lose a lot of these
    species," said Rita Beving, conservation co-chairwoman of the Dallas Sierra
    Club, one of the local Sierra groups that contributed to the report.
    "There's also an innate human need for open space."
    Longtime Dallas conservationist Dick Bartlett cataloged many Texas spaces in
    a book, Saving the Best of Texas. The Mary Kay vice chairman said qualities
    such as a spot's natural beauty must be balanced with its natural function -
    such as the biological diversity that a place supports.
    "These are values for nature that actually are values for people, too," Mr.
    Bartlett said.
    The Sierra Club's local list includes several tracts in the southwestern
    corner of Dallas County, a hilly area that is already home to such preserves
    as Cedar Hill State Park and the Dallas Nature Center.
    In that part of the county, the flat or gently rolling prairies of North
    Texas merge with land more typical of the Texas Hill Country. Like all such
    places where habitats merge, the area supports a rich offering of native
    Spots on the list in southwestern Dallas County include:
    . Cedar Hill State Park, which covers 1,826 acres by FM1382. The park
    includes patches of native prairie that have become all but extinct as the
    metropolitan area has grown.
    . The Dallas Nature Center, a 633-acre mixture of public and nonprofit
    ownership with hiking trails and educational programs.
    . Dogwood Canyon, envisioned as a 252-acre preserve for the protection of
    rare species and habitat types. The Dallas County Audubon Society is trying
    to raise $7 million to buy the land.
    Others on list
    Three tracts on or near Mountain Creek Parkway, totaling 1,014 acres, serve
    as important habitat or buffer areas for the wildlife species that use the
    Two other Dallas County areas also made the list: the Great Trinity Forest,
    the hardwood swamp along the Trinity River south of downtown Dallas; and
    lower White Rock Creek, which feeds the river.
    In Denton County, the club identified areas in or near Flower Mound and
    Trophy Club that also represent increasingly endangered natural areas. And
    in Tarrant County, a spot near the Fort Worth Zoo also made the list.
    The list is part of a statewide Sierra Club effort called the Wide Open
    Spaces campaign, intended to nurture public, political and financial support
    for land conservation. Raising public awareness is the most important part
    of such campaigns, said Mr. Bartlett, who's active in the Texas Nature
    "All that effort might be for naught if you don't have an educated citizenry
    to carry it on," he said.

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