Conservation leaders gather to discuss issues facing North Texas

A huge “Thank You” to all who joined us in Allen on Friday for a daylong discussion of land conservation priorities, projects and potential partnerships that impact the North Texas region.

Led by Jack Tidwell of the North Texas Council of Governments and Carolyn Vogel of the Texas Conservation Connection, the group represented a wide cross-section of organizations, municipalities and individuals concerned about the future of the region as it relates to conservation issues.

Participants included representatives from Rockwall County Open Space Alliance, Upper Trinity Conservation Trust, Texas Parks & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Trinity Trails Preservation Association, National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Native Prairies Association of Texas, Rockwall Open Space Alliance, Trinity Trail Preservation Association and Shannon’s Farms. Also joining the discussion were representatives from the cities of Rowlett, Celina, Royce, Richardson, Pilot Point, Heath and Little Elm as well as various Master Naturalists.

The enthusiasm and passion of all the participants made it clear that there is a growing interest in making sure that protection of our natural resources in the face of rapid development is a top priority.






Connemara adds new easement in Flower Mound

Connemara Conservation Director RJ Taylor and Mark Weatherford complete the agreement protecting 16 acres of open space in west Flower Mound.

Connemara Conservation Director RJ Taylor and Mark Weatherford complete the agreement protecting 16 acres of open space in west Flower Mound.

I am very excited to announce that half of the new 32-acre High Meadow residential subdivision in west Flower Mound will feature protected open space, thanks to an agreement between developer Mark Weatherford and the Connemara Conservancy.

A portion of protected open space at High Meadow.

A portion of protected open space at High Meadow.

Connemara will hold an easement on the 16 acres, guaranteeing that the wooded and prairie conservation land will remain undeveloped in perpetuity. The easement adjoins land already protected by Connemara in the Chimney Rock Estates subdivision of Flower Mound and provides an additional layer of water quality protection for runoff that enters Corps of Engineers land and Lake Grapevine.

This is forward-thinking, smart development at its finest. Not only has Mark guaranteed that High Meadow residents will have access to open space in its most natural state, he is also providing a way to help protect the quality of an important water supply.

“I couldn’t ask for a better partner,” said Mark, who also worked with Connemara on the original planning of the easements of the Chimney Rock Estates development. “I have a great comfort level with the organization from our past experience, and it was important that we continue to use that concept of conservation-friendly residential development on the adjoining tract of prairie and forest lands.”

The 16 additional acres bring the total number currently protected by the Connemara Conservancy to almost 5,400 acres throughout North Texas.


Celebrating two great volunteers

At the heart of every non-profit are the volunteers, without whose support much of the organization’s work would not be possible. That is especially true at Connemara, and Saturday we will recognize two people who have gone above and beyond in their service to Connemara and conservation during a special reception at 6 p.m. in the Meadow Preserve.

Bob Mione and Chandler Burke at work on The Meadow.

Bob Mione and Chandler Burke at work in The Meadow.

The “2013 Volunteer of the Year” award will be given to Robert “Bob” Mione, who serves as Connemara’s Volunteer Meadow Manager.  Bob’s love of The Meadow and his commitment to it has enabled us to do things that we would not be able to do without his help.  His peers nominated him to receive the  Volunteer of the Year Award in honor of his tireless and tenacious dedication to our beloved 72-acre Meadow Preserve.

Also during the reception, Chandler Burke will be recognized. Chandler was one of only 18 people nationwide to receive the “2013 Nestle Very Best in Youth Award.” The Nestlé Very Best in Youth Program was created in 1997 to recognize exceptional young people across America who not only excel academically but also support the community.

Chandler, a graduate of St. Mark’s High School in Dallas, currently attends Rice University. He is an Eagle Scout who earned all 130 Boy Scout Merit Badges and received the “William T. Hornaday Silver Medal” for organizing four significant conservation projects totaling more than 1,000 hours and involving more than 100 volunteers. He was separately recognized as the Texas Eagle Scout of the Year by both the Texas Society for the Sons of the American Revolution and the American Legion. He is also one of 10 national winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Connemara is thrilled to be able to acknowledge both of them at the same time since it was Bob’s dedication that provided our organization the capacity to support some of Chandler’s conservation work in The Meadow.

They represent a heart-warming legacy of loving land through volunteerism. I invite you to join us for light snacks and refreshments in the Pecan Grove to honor these two extraordinary volunteers and celebrate our volunteers who do so much throughout the year in the Meadow Preserve.


Connemara hosting free screening of “Green Fire” Thursday at Allen library


If you missed our April screening of Green Fire, you have another chance to experience the beautiful film about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold on Thursday at the Allen Public Library.

Connemara is sponsoring a free screening of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold And A Land Ethic For Our Time on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium.

Prior to the movie will be an airing of Whatever Befalls The Earth, a short documentary made three decades ago that looks at concern about the potential loss of open space as Collin County began to grow and how a group of forward-thinking citizens put a plan in place to make sure that land preservation was a part of future development.

Green Fire is a full-length film about Leopold, author of The Sand County Almanac whose legendary environmental work shaped and influenced current U.S. National Parks environmental policy.

Connemara board member and Allen councilman Ross Obermeyer said that decades later, Leopold’s ideas of thoughtful conservation are reflected in the way cities such as Allen have taken care to make sure that open space plays an important role in development.

“As a member of the community of Allen, I feel that access to open space is a key function of our parks and recreation programs,” he said. “Open space provides children a place to run, families a place to roam, and our community a place to gather.  The City of Allen has done a tremendous job of giving our community access to open space and recreational programing.”

Robert and Kacy Lyford of Patina Green, who have provided food and decorations for Connemara’s Into The Meadow cocktail receptions, will provide appetizers, and Pure Land Organics, a family farm run by Jack and Megan Neubauer, will have organic produce for sale.

The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr.  For more information, call 214-509-4911.


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