Environmentalists Say Dallas Is Trampling Nature to Build its Horse Park and Golf Course

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Save Pemberton's Big Spring Facebook Page
A contractor's pumps suck down a wetland pond near the Texas Horse Park.
There's a fundamental tension baked into Dallas' plans for the Trinity River corridor. On the one hand, it wants to open the vast, unconcreted lands of the Great Trinity Forest for people to enjoy -- average folks, too, not just the naturalists and horsemen and gonzo hikers hearty enough to bushwhack. At the same time, it wants to preserve relatively intact the delicate ecology and natural beauty the city always touts when selling the Great Trinity Forest

Here's the contradiction: You can't do both. The city can only do its best to minimize the impact of the former on the latter. At the Texas Horse Park, set to open this fall near Loop 12 and CF Hawn freeway in Pleasant Grove, environmental advocates say the city is doing an abysmal job.

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Plano Declares a Water Holiday. Why Waste it on your Lawn?

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Fred Rockwood
This could be you, if you live in Plano.

If you are a Plano resident, you probably received a letter recently that patted you on the back for your water conservation. And you were also probably informed of an upcoming Water Holiday.

Plano's yards have been baking under water restrictions aimed to cut consumption by 15-20 percent. City spokesman Steve Stoler says Plano residents actually did much better, slashing usage 40 percent, which sounds good, except that when consumption goes down, water stored in the city's tanks sits around too long and goes bad. To increase circulation enough to prevent spoiled water, Plano is going to let residents open up the tap for a bit.

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Terrible Life Choices Lead Bald Eagle Family to Seagoville Power Line. Can They Be Saved?

Categories: The Environment

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Dallas Trinity Trails
A male bald eagle landing on a high-voltage Oncor line in Seagoville in 2013.
Seagoville, Texas, the spot where 635 dead-ends into despair, has long been a destination for lives that have taken a seriously wrong turn. Typically, these folks wind up at FCI Seagoville, the town's federal prison and third-largest employer. More rarely, as in the case of a family of bald eagles, their trail of bad decisions leads them to the top a high-voltage power line.

God intended bald eagles to soar majestically over the Grand Canyon and whatever's left of our amber waves of grain, diving occasionally to sink a pair freedom-loving talons into a terrorist's swarthy flesh or to alight gently on Bill O'Reilly's shoulder. Their natural habitat may indeed extend into North Texas, where it might be appropriate for them to do flyovers at a Rangers game (current season excluded) or a Tea Party rally. But no just deity would intend such a resplendent creature to wind up in Seagoville.

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Dallas Councilwoman Vonciel Hill's Pool Is a Mosquito's Oasis, Should Probably Be Cleaned

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Eric Nicholson
Summer is upon us, which means public health officials in Dallas are well into their annual battle against West Nile. Mosquitoes throughout the county are being trapped and tested to detect the spread of the disease. Ponds and sizable puddles are being treated with larvacide or stocked with mosquito-eating minnows. The public is being urged to wear long sleeves, liberally apply bug spray and, most of all, drain any standing water.

To mosquitoes, there's no sexier place to conceive and hatch an extremely large brood of bloodsucking parasites than a rank, slimy puddle of the kind that might collect in, say, an empty pool after a good rain or two. That sort of thing is supposed to yield a prompt visit from city code inspectors and, often, an order to comply with city rules against standing water. So serious is the issue that the Texas Legislature gave cities permission to go onto private property to treat standing water with larvacide if a property appears to be abandoned.

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Dallas Is Going to Spend $7.6 Million to Buy People Toilets

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The Rebuilding Center
If you live in Dallas and your house or apartment is more than 22 years old, and if your commode uses 3.5 gallons or more per flush, the city would like to give you a free, low-flow toilet. There's no catch. No strings. Ninety bucks of porcelain, yours for the taking.

The city's "New Throne For Your Home" program has given away some 72,600 units in its seven-year existence on the premise that it's cheaper to buy people toilets than to build a new reservoir. According to Dallas Water Utilities Director Jody Puckett, it's worked. She credits the program with reducing water consumption by 326 million gallons per year. (How much is 326 million gallons? About half the 789.6 million DWU used on its record day in 2000, or enough to water Tom Hick's yard for around 26 years, based on his usage in 2011.)

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Want Water With No Added Fluoride? Move to the Park Cities.

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Ben Kraal
Dallas City Councilman Sheffie Kadane still isn't sure Dallas should be fluoridating its water.

"Have you seen toothpaste that has fluoride in the toothpaste?" he asked Dallas Water Utilities Director Jody Puckett this morning. "And have you read the disclaimer on it that says 'Do not swallow, and if you do swallow this toothpaste, go get your stomach pumped'?"

"There is a disclaimer on the fluoride toothpaste only," he continued, his concerns unassuaged by Puckett's comment that toothpaste has 10 times the concentration of fluoride as Dallas tap water. "It doesn't tell you on the non-fluoride toothpaste."

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Craig Watkins Reportedly Dropped Trinity Pig Blood Case Over Trespassing Investigator

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The criminal case against Columbia Packing and the Ondruseks, aka the Trinity River pig blood guys, sure seems like it should have been a slam dunk. How could investigators possibly botch a case in which there is literally a trail of blood leading directly to the suspected culprits?

By trespassing, that's how.

Citing multiple sources, a WFAA quadruple team of Jason Whitely, Tanya Eiserer, Rebecca Lopez and Jason Trahan reports that a Dallas County Health and Human Services investigator inadvertently wandered onto Columbia property as he waded through Cedar Creek and snapped pictures in December 2011. (Now that we look, D's Tim Rogers scooped them by a week, though WFAA can be forgiven for not checking his work in the Frontburner comments section.)

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Susan Hawk Demands to Know Why Craig Watkins Dropped 30 Felony Charges In Trinity Pig Blood Case

Earlier this week, the Dallas County District Attorney's office mysteriously dropped all felony charges against Columbia Packing Co. and its vice president, Joseph Carl Ondrusek Jr., for dumping pig blood into a tributary of the Trinity River in January 2012. Counting last month's dismissal of the charges against Donny Ondrusek (another vice president and Joseph's cousin), 30 counts of criminal water pollution and evidence tampering vanished.

In exchange, the company pleaded guilty to "unauthorized discharge," a misdemeanor, and agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.

It's a stupefying end to what has seemed like a slam dunk case from the time a hobbyist's remotely controlled aircraft first photographed a ribbon of scarlet flowing into the Trinity. Councilman Dwaine Caraway is stupefied, charging that the two-plus year investigation conducted by Dallas County Health and Human Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency, was "mishandled."

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Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Still Doesn't Believe in Climate Change

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Lake O.C. Fisher outside San Angelo, summer 2011.
Global climate change is real, it's caused by people, and it will have a significant, often unpredictable impact on the United States and the human beings who live here.

Those are the takeaways from the third-ever National Climate Assessment, an 840-page, congressionally mandated tome released by the White House on Tuesday.

The effects of climate change, the report says, are already being seen in longer, hotter summers, shorter winters, and an increase in extreme weather events. This will continue, and it will get worse.

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Dallas Jury Awards $3 Million to Wise County Family In "First Fracking Trial"

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via Earthworks
The Parr family says their daughter, Emma, began suffering nosebleeds when gas drilling operations took root nearby.
When the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality took air samples from near Bob and Lisa Parr's Wise County ranch on several occasions in 2010, their conclusions varied little. The levels of possibly harmful volatile organic compounds were too low to cause "adverse health effects"

Such chemicals "were either not detected or were detected below levels of short-term health and/or welfare concern."

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