College Station City Council discuss nature and wildlife preservation plan | Latest Headlines


College Station City Council members discussed going green at Thursday night’s meeting at City Hall.

Green vegetation that is.

The councilors discussed creating a nature and wildlife preserve designation and a land use management plan that would preserve natural resources, allow portions of city parks to go back to their natural state with wildlife and free form vegetation, and would give the authority council to approve future land use of city parks.

Steve Wright, College Station’s director of Parks and Recreation, presented the discussion topic for the first time during Thursday’s meeting. The discussion did not result in any immediate action, however all council members were in favor of creating a nature and wildlife preservation design and land use plan.

“We are looking at ways to put in an extra layer of land management within our parks that would keep them in their most natural environment or most natural setting possible. It is not a reason to not go in and not take care of the parks, it is in a sense a reason to get out of the way and let the parks and the land do what it is supposed to do,” Wright said after the meeting. “We all have protocols and procedures on how we maintain the land; we mow them and do other things so this is just another way to say, ‘OK, this is also what we are going to do on a nature and wildlife preserve.’”

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The nature and wildlife preserve designation would assess the current stage of all College Station city parks and find areas that could be designated to live in a natural state with protection from the city, Wright said.

“It doesn’t even have to be the whole park. Even at Veterans Park, our second-largest park, we have a whole area toward the back that is undeveloped,” he said after the meeting. “We have ballfields out front and even if we could just designate certain areas that have protection from the parks department, to where if we wanted to build another baseball field, we couldn’t do it back there without approval.”

During his presentation to the council, Wright stressed the importance of ecosystem services which are defined as the “benefits people obtain from functions of natural systems.”

“These are things that as long as they are in place, we take them for granted. But if ecosystems aren’t protected, clean air, clean water, healthy land, all of these things contribute to a healthier human lifestyle,” he told the council.

Councilman John Crompton requested Wright and the Parks and Recreation Department assessing what can be done to “restore some of the land that the city mows, that they shouldn’t be mowing,” in order to see which areas would be better off as natural areas .

Mayor Karl Mooney thanked Wright for his presentation and said he was pleased to see it brought to the council’s attention. He noted that as time goes on, it is important to preserve wildlife and all natural resources.

“It becomes more and more important, at least in my perspective, that folks — who are here long after I am gone — will be able to go to portions of our city and see what Texas really looked like from its very earliest beginnings,” Mooney said. “I am hoping that there will be other large sections and future parks, that will be primarily in their natural state… but somewhere where children and their parents and grandparents can walk down an old trail and say, ‘This is what Texas looks like. ‘”

Wright told the council he has been corresponding with organizations in town which would like to help start this program, including the Rio Brazos Audubon Society, Brazos Valley Master Naturalist, Texas A&M Forest Service, Keep Brazos Beautiful, Brazos County Master Gardener Association, Parks and Recreation Board and the Texas A&M Extension Service.

Members who are interested will be assigned to an informal Conservation Advisory Group full of like-minded people that have leadership roles and education and passion within to help bring this together and craft something very specific, Wright said.

“We need expertise in this environment to help us identify what that is and how we can put together a plan specific to this topography,” he said after the meeting. “I am hopeful that council understands that this isn’t for [Parks and Rec]this is something that hopefully we can get it in place … that will make it through the next generations and people will start embracing and keeping that importance of keeping that land.”

After the discussion, Wright said he is going to wait and see if he receives any more specific direction from city staff and start forming the Conservation Advisory Group in the next two to three weeks.

“At this stage we are not investing additional resources — we aren’t hiring staff or consultants — I am taking what resources we have,” he said. “This helps show that College Station puts this high on their priority list.”

Interested groups can contact the department at 764-3486, or email parks@cstx.gov.

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