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Making Dallas Even Better

Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Last weekend, Ben, Scott, and I headed down to the Trinity Forest. All of the rains have flooded much of the area, so we were restricted in where we went. We chose Lemmon Lake. Some of you have asked, Where is Lemmon Lake? The best way to access it is the lovely park off of River Oaks. Take Loop 12 off of I-45, exit onto 310, and then turn left on River Oaks. There is a huge parking lot. It’s a beautiful and underutilized public park. It’s filled with large Post Oaks, and there are nice picnic pavilions. We hardly ever see a soul there, which is too bad because it’s lovely.

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No One Is Drilling in the Barnett Shale

The Star-Telegram reported on natural-gas industry data that shows that there are no active rigs drilling anywhere in the two-dozen county region of North Texas under which the Barnett Shale formation sits. A decade ago, there were nearly 200:

Plummeting oil and gas prices, along with the seductive lure of bigger payouts in other parts of Texas and across the country, have brought exploration in North Texas to a halt. In March of last year, the count dropped to one rig for a week, then stayed under 10 since then.

Things have gotten so bad that the Powell Shale Digest in Fort Worth, once a must-read for those following industry activity in the Barnett, is publishing its last edition on Tuesday.

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Scot Miller Trinity Video Appears on CBS’ Sunday Morning

If you watch Sunday Morning, you know they end every episode with a moment of quiet video taken in a natural setting. Yesterday, that video came from none other than sometime D Magazine contributor Scot Miller. You can watch the full version of the video below. As you do, I’d like you to reflect on the duplicitous staff of the city of Dallas and the highway they are trying to build next to the Trinity River.

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Dallas-Fort Worth Earthquake Risk Has Increased 10-Fold

Now that we’ve gotten the fear-inducing headline out of the way, let’s dial things back by noting that even though the United States Geological Survey says that the risk of earthquake damage in North Texas is 10 times greater than it was in 2014, that risk remains only between 2 and 5 percent.

Which, true enough, is the same risk people is some parts of California are facing, according the forecast the USGS has released. But thank your stars that you don’t live in Oklahoma:

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Leading Off (3/25/16)

Dallas Zoo Reopens Monorail. The attraction, which carries visitors past portions of animal habitats not visible from elsewhere in the park, has been closed since August 2014 due to electrical troubles caused by rats chewing through power cables. After a $3 million overhaul, it’s back in service today.

Denton Minister Arrested For Protesting Execution. Pastor Jeff Hood drove to Huntsville to commit an act of civil disobedience as the state of Texas putting to death a murderer. “We’re sitting here in the middle of holy week — where Christians are celebrating beauty of the atonement of Jesus — and yet we are, still killing for the sake of atoning for evil, and that’s not very Christian,” Hood said. “How can we love our neighbor as yourself and kill them?”

Falcon Recovering in Hutchins. The rare bird was found injured at the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway after last week’s hail storm. A band on its leg led the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to learn that “Beatrix” is “something of a local celebrity” in Winnipeg, Canada, thanks to the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. If Rogers can’t get the bird flying again within a few weeks, Beatrix may have to be returned to Canada via plane.

105-Year-Old to Throw Out Rangers First Pitch. Elizabeth Sullivan has been training for her big day, on April 6. “I’m thrilled to a peanut. Wouldn’t you be?” Sullivan said. I might be, yes.

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Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Sunday morning dawned clear and cool. I packed my day pack with a thermos of coffee and headed up to Spring Creek Nature Preserve in Garland. Jill and I had afternoon plans, which prevented us from attending church, so that freed time to hike early on Palm Sunday.

The sun was out as I hit the parking lot on Holford. I was happy to have worn a fleece, as the morning air was still cool.

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Q&A With an Entomologist: Attack of the Mosquito Hawks!

They are everywhere in North Texas. Are they here to suck your blood? Do they mean us harm? What’s the deal with mosquito hawks? I called an entomologist to find out. Mike Merchant is a professor and extension urban entomologist with Texas A&M. He lives here. He knows a thing or two about bugs, and he runs a bug blog that you might enjoy. Here’s the deal:

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Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air

— Bruce Springsteen, The River

Last Saturday morning was a beautiful, cold morning. Ben Sandifer and I decided to head down to the Trinity to see if there was dry land. I had been out of town the previous weekend, hiking in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains, so I was happy to hike with Ben again. There is something about our easy companionship that makes a walk in the woods even better. We barely need conversation to pick our way down a trail or decide when to take a break, to be quiet, slow down or speed up. I like the effortlessness of walking with a steady, familiar companion, especially one as knowledgeable and amiable as Ben. My buddy Scott usually is with us, and Scott and I have been hiking together for about 35 years.

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Why All the Secrecy About the Dallas Wave?

Jim Schutze has posted a humdinger of an account of what went down in a Dallas City Council emergency executive session on Wednesday, when city staff surprised the council with the news that they had only hours to commit to spending $3 million-$5 million to fix the dangerous Dallas Wave whitewater feature on the Trinity River.

If the city didn’t pony up, they were told, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could shut down the entire drinking water system. Or, as Schutze puts it:

All of a sudden — bang! out of nowhere! — the lawyers lock the council up where the taxpayers can’t see them, shove a letter from the Corps in their faces and tell them if the council doesn’t agree to spend millions more on this already atrociously over-budget fiasco by 5 p.m. that day, the Corps is threatening to yank federal permits that could effectively shut down the city’s water supply.

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The City of Dallas Continues To Bulldoze the Trinity Forest

The D Magazine world headquarters are closed this week. I should be unplugged, resting, recharging. And yet there I was this morning at Top Golf, reading, between turns, this important, well-reported, balanced story by the Observer’s Eric Nicholson (don’t feel too bad for me). I’m afraid there are too many people this week similarly unplugged, people who will miss this story, city officials who will therefore not feel the appropriate heat on their heels.

The short version: Trinity Watershed Management continues to be the worst city department in Dallas. Trees continue to be bulldozed. The forest continues to be degraded. And no one is held accountable. Every couple of months, we hear another story like the one Nicholson brings us today. And the city responds: “A contractor screwed up. We’ve got the problem corrected. It won’t happen again.”

It has happened too many times. No one ever gets fired. All the mismanagement, it all ultimately falls at the feet of City Manager A.C. Gonzalez. It’s time for change.

Questions for the DMN on that Lewisville Dam Story

Finally got to the big dam story everyone is talking about. Good read! Lotsa drama. You can almost hear the scary music playing in the background, foretelling much damage and destruction. Highly enjoyed reading it.

Well, I enjoyed it the first time. The second time I looked it through, a few questions started to form. I wanted some supporting evidence and context that I suspect was not included because it would interrupt the excellent #longform #narrative. Especially after some light Googling. Those questions:

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Leading Off (12/10/15)

Lawsuit to remove Susan Hawk will move forward. Ellis County’s county and district attorney, Patrick Wilson, will continue to pursue the suit to remove Dallas DA Susan Hawk. Instead of deciding to drop the case, Wilson says he will file paperwork this week asking a judge to serve Hawk with the lawsuit. Hawk also said this week that she would like to be re-elected in 2018.

20 million-gallon reservoir in Preston Hollow to be replaced. The 60-year-old Walcrest pump station and 20 million-gallon reservoir at the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Hillcrest, next to Hillcrest High School, will be replaced by Dallas Water Utilities. It’s a $36 million project that will hopefully be completed in 2019. Until then, expect lane closures and more traffic.

Almost 1,000 immigrant children from Central America will be housed in Rockwall and Ellis counties. This will begin today. A retreat center in Rockwall County will house 300 children, while a church camp in Ellis County will take in 200-500 or more kids, ages 12 to 18. There has been a surge of children housed close to the U.S.-Mexico border, so this will help alleviate that. The children will be staying here from three weeks to two months.

Wonder why Dallas trees are so colorful this fall? You can thank the recent weather trend of chilly nights and warm, sunny days. But this may not last much longer if temperatures dip lower this weekend, so go enjoy it while you can.

How We Can Still Save the Half-Built Trinity River Project

That photo above is a Google maps shot of a house that sits on the corner of Marlborough Ave. and Davis St. in Oak Cliff. It has more or less looked like that for the better part of five years. The house is the ultimate DIY project. As Rachel Stone reported in the Oak Cliff Advocate earlier this year, Ricardo Torres bought the house in 2008 and set about building his dream home. Torres is a crafty guy. He started from scratch with a plan for a two story home. Then he realized that if he added a third story, he could have a downtown view. You know what would also be cool? A game room. So he tacked on one of those, and the house grew like a drawing in a Dr. Seuss book.

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Radiolab Will Change Your Mind About the Dallas Safari Club Rhino Hunter

Or maybe not. But still.

Listened to this via my podcatcher last weekend but forgot to mention it until now. If you’re not already a regular Radiolab listener, you really should be. But even if you don’t care about fantastically produced storytelling that entertains as it educates about the mysterious ways in which our minds, our bodies, and our surrounding world work, maybe you’ll care that earlier this month the show followed Corey Knowlton, the fellow who bid $350,000 in a Dallas Safari Club auction to shoot a black rhino in Namibia.

I’m not saying I’m now a fan of hunting endangered animals, but hearing from Namibian government officials about how selling permits like these (which are apparently issued only for aged animals that have been killing other rhinos) fund conservation efforts in their country — well, the story is more complicated than the headline.

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