July 2020 Chapter Meeting Announcements

Highlights from July Chapter Meeting

The Announcements
View the full set of June announcements by clicking here.

COVID-19 Special announcement: NTMN requires face masks at chapter activities

As COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities in our area continue to set record highs, NTMN is especially concerned for the safety of our communities and of our chapter members. On June 29, 2020 the NTMN Board voted 1) to extend the guidelines adopted for field service to all chapter activities outside one’s home and 2) to require that members wear a face mask while participating in those activities.

This now applies to field service as well as to training activities, including new class field trips. The chapter has not reopened educational activities to the public. Note that wearing a mask is in addition to staying at least six feet apart. This is somewhat more restrictive than Governor Abbott’s July 2, 2020 order requiring face masks.

There is a clear consensus that properly wearing a face mask, when combined with the exemplary personal hygiene NTMN has been addressing, significantly slows the spread of this virus. The Board has not taken this step lightly. We recognize that under Dallas County guidance, these service and field activities are “Not Recommended” unless all social distancing, hygiene and safety practices are fully implemented. We also recognize that the general guidance in this time of High Community Risk continues to be “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” That is, the safest path is to limit ourselves to essential travel and essential activities.

Wearing a face mask is also consistent with Texas Parks and Wildlife requirements that all TPWD activity requires that staff wear a face mask. For NTMN this is a matter of doing the safe and respectful thing and a matter of representing our chapter to the public. Our TPWD Chapter Advisor Sam Kieschnick explains it this way: “When you wear the badge, you wear the mask.”

Highlights of the meeting

The Three Initiatives of the Trinity Coalition

Steve Smith, our July speaker, and Board Chair of Trinity Coalition gave a very interesting talk on the Coalition’s work. That work is focused on three areas: the Trinity Paddling Trail, the Clean Trinity program, and Greenspace DFW. Teresa Patterson, Paddle Trail Manager, and Kristi Kerr Leonard, Coalition President, facilitated the presentation.

The Trinity Paddling Trail begins in three places: in Fort Worth below Eagle Mountain Lake and below Benbrook Lake and in Lewisville below the Lake Lewisville dam. Running through Dallas, it aggregates some 130 river miles and passes 21 canoe/kayak launch sites. The Coalition has actively pursued trail consensus among the river-adjacent cities and has an application pending with the National Park Service (NPS) for National Recreation Trail status.

The Clean Trinity program promotes a clean river regarding both amounts of trash and water quality, particularly bacterial levels. The Coalition participates in cleanup events, removing quantities of washed-in plastic bottles, plastic bags, and assorted debris that detract from the beauty of the paddling trail.

It also has a water quality report card in the works. Focused on bacterial levels, this will make data available to river users on the relative safety of contacting the water. Because regulatory agencies have classified a number of the river segments along the trail as “impaired” there are mixed perceptions about the associated health risks. The report card is intended to promote how safe the Trinity is for canoeing and kayaking.

Greenspace DFW may be the most ambitious Coalition initiative. It has two main goals. The first is to create a large, urban nature park and secure NPS National Recreation Area status for the park. Trinity Coalition estimates that this could be the largest such urban park in the country. The plan is that NPS status for the paddling trail and for the urban nature park would increase the area’s credibility and draw more local park users and tourists to these valuable resources.

The second Greenspace DFW goal is to assist the City of Dallas in implementing its long-term plan for the Great Trinity Forest. The Coalition is working toward projects that would enhance the forest and help control invasive plant species.

Key takeaways: Steve showed that there are many ways to plug into the conservation work. And, there is plenty of work to be done. Simply recounting Trinity Coalition’s programs doesn’t give enough attention to how beautiful the Trinity River and surroundings are. His presentation was filled with pictures that just make you want to get out on the river and to go enjoy the forest, treasures we’re fortunate to have.

A video recording of last night’s meeting will also be posted as soon as it’s available.

Thank you for all you do for our chapter and our community.

Take care,
Scott Hudson
North Texas Master Naturalist


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