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Nature

Meet the 10 People Protecting Dallas’ Natural Gifts

These conservationists are on the front lines of a battle to save the Trinity River landscape.
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Tim Dalbey
An archaeologist and paleontologist, Dalbey has studied the Great Trinity Forest for more than two decades. Of particular interest is the area around Big Spring. Dalbey, who earned his doctorate from SMU, is known as the man to talk to when it comes to the Native American tribes (the Caddo, among them) that settled there as early as 11,000 years ago.

Bill Holston
Holston, the executive director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, is probably better recognized for his hobby: hiking across North Texas on weekend mornings, usually with a group of fellow master naturalists often on the banks of the Trinity. Holston writes about these explorations for D Magazine in his online “Law Man Walking” column.

Ted and Hal Barker
The Barkers (that’s Ted on the left) are known for their vigorous defense of White Rock Lake, especially Winfrey Point and its native prairie grasslands, not far from the apartment the retired brothers share. From that same apartment, the dedicated watchdogs also run The Korean War Project, an encyclopedic online database they started in the early ’90s.

Charles Allen
Allen might know the muddy currents of the Trinity better than anyone. Actually, there is no need to qualify. For around three decades, he’s been guiding canoe and kayak trips via his Trinity River Expeditions. Allen was also the first to speak up about the dangers of the city’s misguided attempt to turn part of the river into an artificial whitewater park.

Jim Flood
Flood is one of the caretakers of the bottomland forest surrounding the Texas Buckeye Trail in South Dallas. A concrete pathway leads from the banks of the Trinity to the shadow of one of its levees, but Flood prefers the rough-hewn, sometimes barely visible, path that cuts through the woodland. He often leads hikes along it, usually in the spring.

Carrie Robinson
A master naturalist, Robinson—along with a loose group of conservationists that includes Richard Grayson and her longtime boyfriend Ben Sandifer—has been active in protecting Big Spring. She helped earn the natural spring a unique historic designation, usually only given to buildings or neighborhoods, from the city’s Landmark Commission.

Ben Sandifer
An accountant by trade, Sandifer has emerged over the past few years as perhaps the most ardent advocate for the Great Trinity Forest and its protection. He has uncovered egregious mistakes made by the city’s watershed management department and its contractors, while also encouraging exploration via his Dallas Trinity Trails blog.

Becky Rader
Councilman Mark Clayton’s appointee to the Dallas Park and Recreation Board is a wildlife biologist and educator. She has seemingly had a hand in every preservation initiative across North Texas, from White Rock Lake to Big Spring to the John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center in Seagoville, and is a go-to voice on blackland prairie and sustainability.

Richard Grayson
Grayson is another master naturalist who was heavily involved with the effort to protect Big Spring, the last water source of its kind in Dallas County. Beginning in July 2013 and continuing through last year, he helped to monitor water quality there, regularly collecting samples, analyzing them for E. coli bacteria (among other things), and publicly posting the data.

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