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Volunteer Project at Veteranís Park, Arlington, Texas                 In wildness is the preservation of the world. --Henry David Thoreau
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The History of the Wildscape

To Educate the community to use native plants to attract wildlife, conserve resources, and connect with nature.

Members of Arlington Conservation Council and the Arlington Organic Garden Club founded the Molly Hollar Wildscape on half an acre in 1994 to trumpet ecosystem preservation and the benefits of native plants. The organizations did the heavy lifting — literally, as in boulders — plus helped to match  $3,000 from their meager treasuries with a like amount from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the game was on.

Thirty thousand volunteer hours later, the wildscape has expanded into a splendid four-acre enhancement of a last lone stretch of the Eastern Cross Timbers, which runs through central Arlington but has been devastated by development.

Tucked away in one of the city’s most popular parks, the wildscape serves as a living lab, the natural elements providing a backdrop for programs and tours.

It beckons, on many levels, the tree hugger and the good corporate citizen.

In 2000, Northrop Grumman employees, for the company’s Good Turn Project, built a pavilion, benches;  kiosks,  bridges, boardwalk; and much more.. Other improvements have been made possible through additional funding from U. S. Fish and Wildlife, the local chapter and state Native Plant Society of Texas, Arlington Parks and Recreation Dept., North Texas C.O.G., several local businesses and individuals. Volunteers have rescued many native plants to live out their lives in the Wildscape. The Wildscape attracts all manner of similar enthusiasts, from Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, to Rotarians and Scouts, to young people in (volunteered by) Tarrant County Juvenile Services, to the occasional passer-by. It is a designated site for Master Naturalist training field trips and Master Gardener volunteer site.

Volunteers have grown many, many plants, which have either been planted in the wildscape (more than $20,000 worth) or been sold at fundraisers ($10,000 proceeds, and counting).  . This human return on investment has extended outreach to volunteers who are physically challenged or of advanced years, who delight in gardening but cannot participate in strenuous digging, bending and planting.

Then there’s the “Walk on the Wild Side,” where school students come through in small groups to hear of the Eastern Cross Timbers and native plants, see butterflies emerging from their pupae and mosquito larvae swimming in magnified containers, and learn how to identify bird songs. The Arlington Conservation Council has celebrated Earth Day at the wildscape with visitors learning about environmental issues.

Garden clubs, church groups, civic organizations — all may arrange a tour. Impromptu teaching of visitors frequently interrupts the weekly workdays.  The new wildscape website:  http://www.thewildscape.org  is up, and though now in it’s infancy, it will be growing rapidly.

For its advocates and tireless volunteers, the wildscape is a little piece of heaven.

One they’re happy to share.