Nature Trail Could Bridge North Dallas, South Dallas Divide

Is there a natural remedy to bridge the divide between North Dallas and South Dallas?

The Trinity Trust Foundation believes so, which is why the organization has been continuously raising funds for the Trinity Forest Spine Trail.

"People don't even know about the Great Trinity Forest, which is such a gem and asset in our community. (The trail) will open a section of this forest in a very natural, accessible, way to the people of Dallas," said Tierney Kaufman Hutchins, director of outreach and public affairs for the Trinity Trust Foundation.

The trail stretches 17 1/2 miles from the southern tip of White Rock Lake to Interstate 20 in southern Dallas. Preliminary estimates put the cost of the project around $20 million.

Approximately half of the funding has been secured through matching grants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Dallas County. That has allowed construction on the southern portion of the trail to begin.

Funding the northern half will take approximately $10 million.

After waiting decades for the city to fulfill its promise of bringing more natural trails to southern Dallas, residents in the Parkdale and Lawnview neighborhoods are excited about the impact the trail could have in the area.

"We've got a lot of potential to build on eco-tourism, I would say," said Casie Pierce, vice president of the Parkdale/Lawnview Association of Neighbors. "That's where the Spine Trail really comes in. It could set off that momentum and really give us the push we need."

Plans for the trail have been around for several years, but funding has always been the issue, even as parks and trails in the city's northern sector flourished.

"It's always been no money, no money, no money, no money, and it's been no money for 25 years," Pierce said. "This trail should have been built when the Audubon Center was opened."

Vida Cheatham has lived in Parkdale for nearly 20 years. She admits the trail would remove the "hidden gem" tag from the area, but the prospect of going on nature walks with her young daughter is too good to pass up.

"Coming out here, exploring with her as she's learning science and nature, these trails would be a huge plus," Cheatham said.

Cheatham believes the trail could also bridge the divide between her neighborhood and northern Dallas.

"I do not want to say it's a north-versus-south Dallas thing because we are all Dallas," she said. "If the other side of I-30 could come see our neighborhood and see what they'd be connected to I think they would fall out of their chairs."

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