The ACU Wildlife Society is working on a new public wildlife trail across from University Park Apartments and Judge Ely Blvd with plans to open in the spring. The Wildlife Society, an on-campus student interest group open to all students, provides research and other environmental opportunities.
“This past summer I was thinking of what we could as a department to help get our name out there and also to provide something for the campus and the community with an environmental purpose,” said President of the Wildlife Society, Eric Dolezalik, senior environmental science major from Ennis, Texas.
After visiting the property across Judge Ely for a class project, Dolezalik spoke with the university’s grounds department to look into developing the wildlife trail.
“A couple years ago there was an Eagle Scout that did one of his projects there so he cleaned up that area and cleared out some trees,” Dolezalik said. “Last spring we identified plants, and that is one of locations we went to.”
The wildlife trail will be a place where anybody is welcome to enjoy nature and learn more about the local environment. “It will provide an additional health and recreational opportunity for the ACU family with no cost to the user and little or no environmental impact,” said Dr. Jim Cooke, professor of environmental science.
“The average person in Texas doesn’t know much about the native plants here and how they’re useful or beneficial,” Dolezalik said. “As of right now we have about 60 plants. We’re also hoping to have different types of benches for people to sit out there and relax,”
Currently, the trail is being referred to as the Parker Hill Nature Trail after James Parker, who spent significant time cleaning up the trail and helped the Wildlife Society prepare the area.
“It’s also to show that we as a department have value and we can contribute and we’re going to start,” said Dolezalik.
The Parker Hill Nature Trail will be located across from Judge Ely and University Parks apartments. The area is around two to three acres. The Wildlife Society hopes to have the trail finished and open to the public by Earth Day in April with the possibility of nearby parking for guests.
“It will provide a place for thoughtful meditation on the creation and the Creator,” Cooke said. “Projects like these are important because they improve the quality of life on campus.”