The land in question at Flag Pole Hill

The land in question at Flag Pole Hill

Last month White Rock Valley neighbor Ken Coutant struck a nerve with some White Rock Lake-area nature activists after he posted an online petition. With enough signatures, he would receive permission from the City of Dallas to expand the trail system near Flag Pole Hill.

There are already some primitive footpaths through the grassland and trees in the northeast corner of the park, which Coutant said he has been using for several years now. His hope was to create more multi-use trails through the trees for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders to use.

“No trees will be felled in the expansion,” he insisted, “only invasive undergrowth identified by the city forester will be removed and a 12-inch dirt trail will be created.”

During the White Rock Lake Task Force meeting last month, several neighbors voiced their concerns about the impact on the wildlife that lives in the forest. They worried heavier human traffic — especially mountain bikers — would upset the ecosystem.

After weeks of debate, the City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department announced at the White Rock Lake Task Force meeting on Tuesday that it would be taking over the project.

Along with the change in leadership, the scope of the project had also changed.

This is no longer an expansion project, Shana Hamilton, the community program coordinator for parks and rec, stressed on Tuesday: “It’s a maintenance project.”

In order to respect the wildlife in the area, there will be no new trails. Instead the city plans to upgrade the trails that already exist. The city will most likely work with Groundwork Dallas, although nothing is set in stone just yet.

The trails will be soft-surface paths. No concrete or crumb rubber; only dirt.

Parks and rec might also “reclaim” some non-essential footpaths and “restore them to a natural state,” by filling them with dirt and allowing the underbrush to grow up around it. Parks and rec also plans to correct some of the “current erosion problems that are causing damage to the pathways,” Hamilton says.

The parks department is still working out most of the details, so we will post more information about the project as in evolves. Also, don’t miss our upcoming story in the July magazine to learn more.