Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Nature Center

What is this place, and who are the people it's named after? 

You've no doubt noticed the gate and the sign while driving down the stretch of FM 270 between Five Corners and NASA Road 1.
It's a 148-acre tract of largely wetlands adjacent to Clear Creek, roughly that elongated blob you see at photo center. 
League City's web entry describes a bit of the history of the property, but not much about its namesakes. 
Dr. Ned Dudney was a local physician who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of League City.  He was also instrumental in the formation of the hospital now known as Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, which holds a special place in my heart as it's where I gave birth to my daughter. 
In a nutshell.  Screengrabbed from this League City Historical Society newsletter
League City's current website is rather discordant, hosting this page which contains almost no information on the park, which in turn does not link to this page which does, but which is curiously anecdotal.  You'll notice that they make reference to the fact that this property was formerly called "the Davis tract".  That seems a propos of not much, until you consider that, at one time several years ago, League City had a loose ambition to acquire and link multiple wetland tracts into a larger system, of which this was only one tract, hence being called out as the so-and-so tract as distinct from the such-and-such tract.  My memories of those ambitions are both faint and incomplete because I was neither a League City resident nor was I extensively involved at the time.  But I do remember hearing about a larger plan along these lines. 
If you peruse Googlemaps, you'll see a number of analogous vacant tracts sandwiched between built-out areas and Clear Creek, including this tract north of the Clear Creek Village subdivision
There's not much that can be done with these tracts from a "developmental" standpoint.  They're situated partly within the Clear Creek floodway and almost entirely within the 100-year flood zone, and are seriously encumbered by their status as jurisdictional wetlands.  Therefore, the idea to obtain and connect a string of them as parkland made perfect sense. 
You're going to get a rude shock in a diversity of financial and logistical senses if you try to build something adjacent to the likes of this.  Pic taken from one of the Dudney Center's bird blinds.  Those are white pelicans in the background. 
Like I said, I don't know what happened to that original plan.  New Mayor, new Councilmembers, who knows??  If anyone knows, please email me a short-version summary and/or some links.  This issue has been tied up in the hike and bike trail plan, the evolution of which I'll need to address separately in a future post.  Meanwhile, let me leave you with a few non-spoiler pics I took at the Dudney center late yesterday afternoon.
I hadn't been to the place in a few years, and I had forgotten that it's a good place to walk dogs, which are permitted in the park as long as the waste and leash ordinances are observed. 
The main trail is wonderful - wide and paved in concrete, which makes it suitable for kids on tricycles, people in wheelchairs, parents pushing strollers, etc.  This one low section is finished as an elevated boardwalk. 
Yesterday afternoon was not the most peaceful time to take a walk, however, as Wings Over Houston was rehearsing in preparation of today's events!!
As usual, I was largely interested in macro photography.  The park contains quite the diversity of native and invasive plants.  It's adjacency to Clear Creek means that a lot of suburban seeds get washed into its boundaries and take root. 
Bumblebee on goldenrod.  Not to be confused with honey bees, the kind that gets Africanized, although they were certainly present, too. 
This guy above may be some species of Leschenaultia, which is apparently also known as a big black hairy fly (ya don't say!).  I don't know what they do for a living, but they were present in abundance. 

1 comment:

  1. Re: Construction of the proposed water line to run through the Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Park

    Dear Mr. Lothrop,

    The Parks Board generally discourages use of parkland for utility easements while understanding the need to provide clean water for our growing community. The Parks Board is presenting these concerns for your consideration.

    1. All resource agencies involved in the acquisition and preservation of this property must be informed of this proposal and their input and approvals sought. Specifically, United States Fish and Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Texas Archeological Society.

    2. The proposed route appears to cut directly through the protected midden site. Again, preservation of this is of utmost concern and final approval is under the direction of the Texas Archeological Society.

    3. Encourage a route which causes the least damage to existing desired trees in all sections of the park, including the tract east of Robinson's Bayou and adjacent to Davis Road. Further, if trees are destroyed, replacement trees are requested with following care for 1 to 2 years depending on weather conditions for establishment.

    4. Encourage the creation of wild space along the water line route beyond just planting the proposed "prairie mix." Careful selection of coastal prairies grasses provides an opportunity for restoring threatened native coastal prairie grasses.

    Thank you for your careful consideration of these concerns.


    Max Blansit, President

    Parks Board


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