New nature preserve opens in Huntsville

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:14 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The city of Huntsville cut the ribbon on its newest nature preserve Wednesday.

The 58 acres of land is named in honor of the late Dallas W. Fanning, former director of urban development and architect of the city’s western expansion.

The Dallas W. Fanning Nature Preserve is located at 258 Old Jim Williams Rd.

“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Dallas Fanning than this preserve,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “Dallas was the catalyst for Huntsville’s western expansion. His vision brought industry and thousands of jobs and new residents to the western corridor. He would have wanted these residents to have places to play and this park would please him greatly.”

The nature preserve provides several miles of signed trails through the woods and a two-acre green space dotted with shade trees and benches. There is a gravel parking lot at the park entrance. But there is no lighting, which the city says is an intentional decision.

“This parcel includes woodlands and wetlands,” said John Hamilton, city administrator. “In developing the park, we worked to enhance and preserve the environment and provide residents with a sanctuary space to connect with nature. By eliminating lighting, we protect wildlife habitats and provide an excellent location for stargazing.”

Huntsville’s Public Works and Landscape Management crews did the heavy lifting to refurbish the land, plant 400 new trees, and create the trails

“Everyone was excited about the project because it involved respecting the land and creative thinking,” said Joy McKee, director of Landscape Management. “One of our supervisors, Steve Fowler, helped design the trails and provided all the carpentry for the benches and signage. He and his enthusiastic crew of workers have taken great pride in bringing this amenity to the public.”

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