Earlier this month, the City of Deer Park, Texas hosted the grand opening of the Deer Park Nature Preserve. With Mayor Jerry Mouton, Jr. presiding over the opening ceremonies and dedication of the Dr. Billy Sealy Loop Trail on October 15, the event was well attended by citizens and local and county dignitaries. As the ribbon was cut, Deer Park’s first responders celebrated the opening of the new trail with a one-lap victory run.

Focused upon a 4-acre parcel donated to the City by Dr. Billy J. Sealy in the mid-1980s and guided by a vision to create a park in his honor, the City purchased adjacent acreage in 2000 and incorporated the Sealy parcel to create a unified 38-acre park. In 2015, a project team led by RVi’s Houston office was selected to work with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to prepare a master plan and design a park that would serve as a model for sustainable design and environmental stewardship in this heavily industrialized area just east of Houston. The master plan, in addition to its phase one nature preserve, incorporates a wide range of activities, including outdoor classrooms, playgrounds, camping, a ropes course, and a pavilion in future phases.

Phase One development included the restoration of wetlands and construction of a new parking area and ¾ mile loop trail for visitor access. In addition to obvious reductions in Deer Park’s carbon footprint achieved by preserving this native wetland environment (min. 76,000 lbs./year*), the team carefully detailed each of the park’s new features with conservation and sustainability in mind. The parking area incorporates a permeable driving surface designed to reduce stormwater runoff and filter pollutants. The trail, named after Dr. Sealy as a tribute to his generous contribution, is constructed of decomposed granite to encourage surface water infiltration and provide a natural walking surface. An elevated boardwalk section, constructed of recycled materials, provides public access to the park’s wetland habitats while protecting its most sensitive areas. Finally, the trail and parking area utilize solar-powered lighting to eliminate the need for any connection to the electrical power grid.

Deer Park is currently working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore the wetlands and remove invasive species, including Chinese tallow, buttonbush, Cherokee rose, yaupon, and blackberries. The restoration project is expected to be completed this fall.

 

* Source: https://sustainability.stackexchange.com