Year end wrap up for the environment and Dallas

Fifty weeks. Fifty articles. Roughly 32,000 words right here Along the Green Trail ­— all about the environment with a connection to Dallas. From the outside many don’t see the environmental strides our big Texas city has taken, but in the past year we are moving forward to a more sustainable future around the world and right here.

This year started out with a questioning of the construction zone trash dump as the Horseshoe project really got under way. The immense rain came in the spring and floods forced construction to a halt as water washed away sediment and trash downstream. Months later we discovered just where this trash ends up — at a newly opened park in South Dallas, Goat Island Preserve. The uncovering of thousands of tires in this park along the Trinity River was a story told first in this column in the Katy Trail Weekly, which ended up on the local NBC news.

We highlighted the work of the Texas Trees Foundation, who assessed the Dallas urban forest and estimated our city has 14.7 million trees within the city limits valued at $9 billion. Our trees increase property values, clean the air, capture runoff, provide us with health benefits and are a fantastic daily reminder of the importance of our environment. The beauty of the trees encourage us to get outside and hopefully some of you stepped out to #FindYourPark and join the National Park Services initiative to get people outside during their centennial year celebration. If I had to choose one for the year in the Dallas area, I’m choosing Harry Moss Park — a forested gem close to the city.

Speaking of parks, the Trinity River green space was a robust conversation this year. The community argued about a toll road and the Trinity Trust Foundation forged forward highlighting an imaginative design that explores every outdoor idea from disc golf to pop up plazas just steps from downtown. The future for this area looks promising.

Our city hosted big international conferences this year that had the environment on the agenda. Back in early 2015, the Plastics Recycling Conference was held downtown just as our citywide plastic bag fee got squashed. We took steps forward with a fee, but consumers could not make the change, literally. Five cents was too much to bare. But, we don’t need a plastic bag ban or fee to bring your own bags to the stores, and every day I see more people bringing their cute reusable bags.

A conference affiliated with the COP21 was held here in Dallas on the SMU campus a few months ago. Sitting in a large room I’ll never forget the words our very own Mayor said, “I think a lot of people across this country and across the world would probably be shocked if they heard that the Mayor of Dallas, was hosting a conference, in Dallas, focused on climate change, but I think it’s important because it’s real, and we gotta deal with it.” At this conference Mayor Rawlings announced the city’s zero emissions initiative joining the coalition of Mayors from around the world that are creating ambitious goals to combat climate change. We haven’t heard much about Dallas’ plan and action yet, something we need to push for in 2016.

The COP21 in Paris wrapped up with an agreement by 195 nations to cut “global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” It’s up to local cities, businesses, and communities to lead the effort and commit to achieving this goal.

An international goal we all personally can work on. From this past year’s articles including the environmental sides of candles, toilet paper, palm oil, tiny houses, nail polish, light pollution, vehicle idling, water bottles and highlighting local environmental businesses — there must be at least one thing you can choose to do better with. The environment connects to everything we do and use, make a few decisions to reduce your impact on our world and it adds up.

The ending of 2015 is promising even though data suggests this will go down as our hottest year on record. I’m ready to tackle the New Year with enthusiasm to create a sustainable future right here in Dallas. And if you have an environmental story you want me to look into in 2016 or even just a comment, send me an email to me at or tweet me at @naimajeannette!

As the sun sets on 2015, I’m eager and excited for a fantastic future forward sustainable 2016!


As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.

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