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Making Dallas Even Better

A Dispatch From the D Magazine Sweat Lodge

When we got to work this morning at D Magazine world headquarters, in beautiful downtown Dallas, we learned the AC is out in our building, St. Paul Place. The editorial crew all sits on the east side of the office. That would be the side of the building that is currently under assault from the sun. I’m guessing, but it’s probably 87 degrees at my desk, which sits right by a window.

To survive, many of us have moved our computers into our lobby, which is on the west side of the building. We are sitting at the table you see here, elbow to elbow. We aren’t exactly sweating. But we are all sticky. At least I am sticky. I haven’t taken a survey. Zac (far left in the pic) is on edge. I made an innocuous comment earlier about the movie London Has Fallen, and he threw a coffee mug at me. Then the Spirit Father came to see me, and I sprouted wings, and I flew with him high above our hunting grounds, admiring the herds of buffalo that have sustained our people for generations. Do you hear that noise, my brother?

I am now naked save for my loincloth. I am lashing myself with the sage branch. An intern is pouring water on the stones that still glow red from the fire, and the steam is cleansing my MacBook Air. We are working on the August issue. It will be an inspired document, if not error free.

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What Do You Think of the New Plan for the Trinity River?

A few weeks ago, the mayor hosted an event that unveiled a new, $250 million vision for the Trinity River Project. Before offering some reservations, Mark Lamster practically swooned over the initial designs, which, on the surface, seem to internalize some of the criticisms of previous incarnations of the plan. Like Lamster, when I looked at the latest Trinity River Project watercolors, I recognized what looks like a gesture towards compromise. The floodplain is depicted as a more dynamic, natural setting, designed to participate in — and not resist — the regular flooding events that are the heartbeat of the ecology of the river.

Now a website has been set up by the two nonprofits that have long been pushing forward the Trinity River Project, The Trinity Trust and the Trinity Commons Foundation. Reading the brief description of the new park on that site, I found the kind of language that should surround any attempt at re-imagining the Trinity River. I also saw some questionable assertions.

First, here’s the good:

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Study: DFW Airport Quakes, Most Texas Quakes Caused by Humans

just-released University of Texas/SMU study has found that humans (specifically oil and gas industry activity) have been causing earthquakes in Texas since at least the 1920s. Some of this seismic activity is associated with the injection of fluids (usually wastewater) into the ground, while others involved oil and gas or fluid extraction. Say the scientists:

Altogether, for the 162 Texas earthquakes having magnitudes of 3 or greater and occurring between 1975 and 2015, we categorize 42 (26%) as almost certainly induced, 53 (33%) as probably induced, 45 (28%) as possibly induced, and the remaining 21 (13%) as tectonic

The study notes that analysis of the string of quakes centered near the old Texas Stadium site in Irving is not yet complete, but it does devote a section to discussing seismic activity at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport between 2008 and 2013:

We and others conclude that the DFW airport earthquakes were induced because of the absence of historical seismicity prior to injection, the proximity of the injection well to a known mapped fault, the onset of activity only six weeks after injection commenced in 2008, and the earthquake depths at and below the depth of injection.

What do the government regulators charged with monitoring the oil and gas industry have to say about these findings? A Railroad Commission spokesperson told the Morning News the study’s methods — admittedly based on somewhat subjective questions and drawing correlations from the data — are arbitrary.

God bless Texas.

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Dallas Zoo Wallabies Pick New Joey’s Name

I don’t know if your morning has been as miserable as mine has been so far, but if so, I suggest watching the above video of wallabies at the Dallas Zoo. I’m not the most animal-friendly of people, but I found it strangely soothing.

What’s happening in the video? From the zoo:

Our wallaby joey is no longer nameless! In mob-style fashion, we let our wallaby joey’s Australian mob pick his moniker by eating one of two labeled cakes. The choices: “Burnum” after Australian aboriginal activist, or “Pedy” for Coober Pedy in South Australia. The mob has spoken. And eaten and hopped… they really just hopped a lot. Here’s our sweet Pedy on his naming day!

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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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