Dateline – March 1, 2009
This past spring my daughter and I were invited to participate in an event that turned out to be quite a remarkable experience. Valeri Marler of the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch, a wildlife rehabilitation and education center, graciously asked us to accompany her in the releasing of a number of her recently rehabbed animals. This was an invitation we eagerly accepted!
We met with Valeri and her husband Mike well south of Dallas in a remote area near the place where the East Fork merges with the Trinity River. This verdant landscape is the home of the South Forks Trinity River Mitigation Bank which is owned and operated by Mr. Johnny Mack Powers.
For those not familiar with the concept, Mitigation Banking is a government sponsored program designed to help protect our natural wetlands, while at the same time recognizing and accommodating the need for development and progress. Here’s how it works… If a company or government agency wants to implement a project that will damage or destroy existing wetlands, they can secure permission to proceed by purchasing an appropriate number of credits from a mitigation bank. These credits are then used by the mitigation bank to restore and protect wetlands that were lost prior to this program being enacted.
The land that is now the South Forks Trinity River Mitigation Bank appears to have once been home to some kind of major industrial operation. Evidence of its prior usage is all around. Contrasted against the background of the Trinity River’s lush riparian forest are large flat plains surrounded by retaining ponds and piles of moved earth. Rusting hulks of old machinery and pipes litter the landscape. Newly planted areas with tagged saplings and green grass offer evidence of the ongoing restoration efforts. It is exactly the promise of this wetland reclamation that makes this mitigation bank such an ideal place for returning the rehabilitated animals to the wild.
We arrived early in the afternoon and soon met up with Johnny Mack Powers and his friends and family at the location chosen for the first set of releases. There were a number of children present, and their excitement was palpable. We spent the rest of the day moving around the property releasing the various species of animals into the kinds of environments best suited to them. The afternoon wrapped up with the exciting release of three bobcats. What a special day!
The Release at the South Forks Trinity River Mitigation Bank
A couple of weeks later my daughter and I followed up with a visit to the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch, and its sister organization, the National Bobcat Rescue and Research Foundation. This beautiful location near lake Tawokoni, is the home of Valeri’s wildlife rehabilitation and education efforts. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon as Valeri provided us with a guided tour of her facility and introduced us to the wide variety animals currently under her care.
The Visit to the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch
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