By Laura Kimberly, New Class Director
LLELA (Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area) is an unlikely gem of wildlife and wildflowers—hidden among the spoils of civilization. Pay no attention to the power lines, landfills, and dam. Don’t look there. Instead step into the amazing woods and wetlands where the ecoregions of Blackland Prairie and Cross Timbers meet and migratory birds stop in. LLELA’s got prairie, wetlands, riparian areas, forests, and glades. Many consider it a nature photographer’s wonderland.
Managed in cooperation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the University of North Texas, the Lewisville Independent School District and the City of Lewisville, LLELA offers hiking, fishing, paddling, camping, education, and research. For the Master Naturalist, LLELA offers a range of options for volunteering and advanced training.
Volunteering at LLELA lets you in on the secrets of this crossroads for birds, insects, and plants. Volunteers work “to heal the land and restore the bond between people and nature,” as stated in the LLELA vision statement. Volunteering alongside Master Naturalists and staff knowledgeable of plants, insects, herptiles, birds, and land restoration, you are bound to see and learn something new each week. LLELA is volunteer crossroads as well, where Master Naturalists from several chapters meld into a dedicated and fun group.
The North Texas Chapter has contributed 400 volunteer hours on average over the past few years. You’ll find me there on Wednesdays and the monthly Saturday—sometimes working hard, sometimes distracted by insect observations, and always learning from my fellow volunteers and the nature around me. I hope you’ll join me and get hooked on LLELA, too.
—Weekly and monthly workdays: Monday and Wednesday mornings and one Saturday a month, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Volunteers work on prairie restoration, plant propagation, seed collection, removal of exotic species, trail maintenance, and other projects. To volunteer and for specifics about directions, etc., contact Richard Freiheit firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.llela.org. No training required; come on out and join a workday crew.
—River Care Team: Saturdays and Sundays. The River Care Team communicates with anglers and other visitors along the Elm Fork at LLELA, discussing river stewardship and proper disposal of trash. Contact: Lisa Cole, email@example.com about the River Care Team training and volunteer schedule.
—Outdoor Education: Monday-Saturday, times vary. Lead short nature hikes with students or assist staff with school group labs. Assist with weekend family events such as Stars on the Prairie, Night Hikes, etc. Contact Lisa Cole, firstname.lastname@example.org about becoming a trained nature hike leader.
—Specialized opportunities are available for naturalists with specific expertise. Be on the lookout for a call for expertise for the October 2018 BioBlitz, sponsored by the Friends of LLELA.
Just a visit to LLELA is a lesson in land restoration, habitat preservation, ecosystems, plant and animal diversity, and plant and animal survival in an ever-growing population center. But you can learn more, and get advanced training hours, by participating in scheduled educational events:
—The monthly Bird Walk: Birders of all skill levels are welcome to join an expert birder every 2nd Saturday (except July and August) at 7:30 a.m.
—Monthly Nature Walks: Knowledgeable trail guides lead monthly Saturday walks to identify nature’s sights and sounds of the season. These are family friendly walks.
—Monthly Night Hikes: The nighttime version of the nature walk. Listen for the owls, coyotes, frogs and more. Registration is required for these after-hours events one Saturday a month.
Periodically, LLELA schedules star gazing, guided kayaking, local history lectures, and other events, which may qualify for AT or may be just plain fun. Events that qualify for AT are listed on the North Texas Chapter calendar.
Hiking, Paddling, Photographing, and Fishing
With seven miles of trails through various landscapes, an interpretative paddling trail, and a Trinity River launch for kayaking and canoeing, LLELA is a wonderland for birders, photographers, paddlers, casual hikers, and anglers. Check out the LLELA iNaturalist project for photographs of the wide range of flora and fauna found there. Fishing is permitted (license required) along a one-mile stretch of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
Go discover LLELA. Volunteer, learn, play, enjoy.
LLELA is open seven days a week. Summer hours are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Winter hours are 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The daily fee is $5 per car; a yearly pass is $60. Some events carry an additional $5 registration fee; other events require registration, but no additional charge. Be sure to check the LLELA events calendar for all the details, registration links, and surprise events.
I am always delighted to talk with anyone about the opportunities and happenings at LLELA. I’ll be leading a Saturday workday on August 25 and would enjoy showing you the nursery. Contact me, Laura Kimberly at email@example.com
LLELA website: llela.org
Friends of LLELA website: llelafriends.org
LLELA on iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=33.0634389802915&nelng=-96.97823101970852&place_id=any&swlat=33.0607410197085&swlng=-96.98092898029154
To see more pictures of LLELA, please click here: LLELA album.