Photography by Kevin Sloan Studios.

Neighbors and leaders celebrated the opening of the newest phase of the Northaven Trail between Preston and Cinderella in February with a ribbon cutting.

“We’re fully connected,” said Jeff Kitner, Park and Recreation Board member and president of Friends of the Northaven Trail. “I’m so excited that we have over 8 miles of trail.”

Calvert Collins-Bratton, president of the Park and Recreation Board, told the crowd that this trail took more than a decade to create. City Councilman Lee Kleinman noted that this part of the trail was paid for in full by the City of Dallas and Dallas County.

“Our city, especially North Dallas, is built out,” he says. “We’re not getting more green space. We’re looking for opportunities like this to take an easement and turn it into a park. This is the kind of thinking we need in the future for our citizens.”

The final piece will be a bridge over Central Expressway, connecting to trails — White Rock, Cottonwood and SoPac — on the east side. City Councilman Lee Kleinman expects it to be finished by June 2021.

“This location sits at a continental hourglass point of migrations — birds, butterflies, insects and so forth. It’s an ecological super corridor.”

In the meantime, Friends of the Northaven Trail, a volunteer organization that supports and maintains the trail, has commissioned Kevin Sloan Studio to design a master landscaping plan that includes Blackland prairie grasses and wildflowers with sections of plants to attract butterflies, pollinators, hummingbirds and songbirds. Ornamental trees, such as redbuds, native sumacs, yaupons and Mexican plums, will be planted in the creek beds and will grow well below the trail’s Oncor towers.

Landscape architect Kevin Sloan and Texas Master Gardener Diane Sloan are embracing “rewilding.”

“As people are out exercising, visiting with neighbors, walking their dogs or riding their bikes, they can also see how beautiful our native plants are and see how they can bring that kind of conservation and good ecology practices into their own yards,” Kevin says.

Diane envisions grasses with roots that grow 12 feet so they don’t need to be watered continuously. The couple also plans to install butterfly gardens strategically along the trail.

“This location sits at a continental hourglass point of migrations — birds, butterflies, insects and so forth,” Kevin says. “It’s an ecological super corridor.”

The firm’s project at Airfield Falls Trailhead & Conservation Park outside the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth is an example of the “rewilding” that the two envision for Northaven Trail. In 2013, the couple directed their team to plant native grasses, ornamental trees and plants that are irresistible to butterflies and pollinators. The project manager called to say the butterflies were so thick they had to brush them away from their faces.

“I drove over there, and it was like some vision of Eden,” Kevin says. “There was a fog of butterflies, and then other things came — turkeys and birds. The lesson is that what we build can be absolutely predicted.”

In addition, Kevin Sloan Studio designed a “rewilded” garden for Mary McDermott Cook at her former house in the Park Cities.

“There’s this little beautiful orb of butterflies, pollinators and skippers,” Kevin says.

The couple envisions students from schools along the trails, walking and learning about their role in the ecosystem.

“This is what architecture is supposed to do,” Kevin says. “You’re not designing things for self-admiration. This will connect people with their neighborhood, each other and the environment. The trail is the instrument.”

Friends of the Northaven Trail is a nonprofit volunteer organization that supports and maintains the trail. Improvements are paid for by community donations. If you’d like to contribute, visit northaventrail.org.


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