The Nature Center is a dynamic place. As a result we are constantly working on different projects to keep the park beautiful for everyone and to preserve it for all time. Shown here are a few of the more current projects that we are or have recently worked on. (Work in Progress)

 

Eagle Scout Projects

  • Andrew McVeigh – Built a new bridge on the trail from the North Area to Bee Suck Hollow.
  • Logan Crowley – Replaced the badly broken overlook deck railing.
  • Ethan Burstedy – Installed many North Trail to Bee Suck Hollow erosion control structures.

Jacob Maddux

In late 2013 Eagle Scout Jacob Maddux led a large team of scouts and others in a project to improve one of the most popular trails in the park. This was the Green Pond Access Trail. The project consisted of a number of important parts.

  • Move the trailhead to reduce the slope.
  • Add steps to the trailhead area to improve safety.
  • Add a railing between the top of the trail and the steep bluff.
  • Remove and relevel the bridge near the amphitheater.
  • Add several drainage channels to divert water flow from the path.
  • Add several additional steps to the switchback section.
Trailhead Steps
Trailhead steps
Railing just below the Trailhead
Trailhead Railing
Bridge Installation near the Teaching Nook
Bridge Installation
Completed Drainage Structure across the trail
Drainage structure

Volunteer work days

Every second Thursday of the month volunteers gather at 8:30am to work on improving the park (1pm during winter). In addition occasional Saturdays are also scheduled. Volunteers usually meet in the North Parking area at the north end of the Belton Dam. Everyone is invited, including children old enough to use a pair of clippers. It is recommended to bring water, work gloves and wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and closed toed shoes. Come anytime after 8:30am and join in the fun!

To get email announcements of volunteer events just join our “Friends of the Park News” mailing list seen on the right side of this page.

Watch the park news on the right hand side of the page for details.

Ash Tree Preservation Project

J. Evans, M. Everett, C. Newsom

The half inch long Emerald Ash borer is an invasive insect that can easily destroy all ash trees in an entire forest. In just 12 years it has infested and killed many tens of millions of Ashes in 15 states. It has been found just north of Texas and might move into Texas at any time. The Ashes in a given area have genetically adapted to that area and so different areas will have Ashes that are slightly different. To preserve the Bell County Ash trees we will be GPSing several dozen of the more mature Ashes (2 species) and then collecting a pound or so of seeds from each female tree in the fall of 2014. If the Ashes are then killed for any reason (fire or insects) then they can be restored from seed. The Texas project aims to collect seeds from all Ash species in every county in the state. Emerald Ash Borer - Miller Springs Nature Center

Plant Survey Project

J. Evans

For several years now J. Evans has been visiting the park and taking photos of the plant life. This project is ongoing and will continue for several more years. As a result of his many hundreds of hours of work the nature center is now blessed with a tremendous number of interesting photo galleries not only of plant species but also many other types of life.

Caterpillar on a Blue Curl flower

 

Invasive Plant Removal Projects

Invasive plants are widespread in the park and the Miller Springs Alliance, along with many volunteers have been working since 2013 to remove these species in a systematic way. This is a is a multi-year project in any nature center and good progress has been made in a number of areas. The species that are currently being worked on are shown below.

Chinaberry Trees

  • Mural Wall - 100% done
  • North area - 100% done
  • Prairie area - 100% done
  • Stone bridge access road - 100% done
  • Beaver Ponds Loop - 100% done
  • Tennessee Valley Trail - 99% done
  • South River Loop - 98% done
  • Hidden Springs Trail - 70% done
  • Green Pond Access Trail - 60% done
     
  • Total trees removed - 764 (June 4, 2016)

Chinese and Japanese Privets

  • North area - 99% done
  • Joplin Hollow - 98% done
  • Beaver Ponds Trail - 97% done
  • Cox Hollow - 90% done
  • Tenneessee Valley East Road - 70% done
  • Hidden Springs Trail - 60% done
  • Green Pond Access Trail - 40% done
  • Bee Suck Hollow - 10% done
  • Beaver Ponds Seep Area - 0% done
     
  • Total trees & saplings removed greater than 5,000

Giant Reed Grass

  • Old Bridge on TV road - 80% done
  • South River Trail - 15% done
     
  • Canes removed - More than 2,000 - April 19, 2016

Heavenly Bamboo

  • Joplin Hollow - 100% done
  • North area - 99% done
  • Green Pond Access Trail - 80% done
  • Bee Suck Hollow - 75% done
     
  • Total plants removed - 1,421 (June 4, 2016)

Malta Star Thistle

  • Emergency Spillway - 99% done
  • Dam, north end - 50% done
  • East Bench - 0% done

Mustards

  • North Area - 70% Complete
  • Mural Wall - Future

Common Mullein

  • Armadillo Trail - 99% done
  • Stone Bridge Area - done
  • South River Loop - 100% done
  • Dam Green Strip, north - 100% done
     
  • Total plants removed - 997 (June 4, 2016)

Pampas Grass

  • Beaver Ponds, West Side - done
  • Beaver Ponds, East Side - Seed Heads removed in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Removal begins in Fall of 2016

Japanese Honeysuckle

This is one of the more difficult plants to remove in the Nature Center. Most herbicides only top kill the vine and so it will return in the next growing season. So far the most efficient method we have found is to dig it up by the roots.
  • Ponds Loop - 0% done
  • Tennessee Valley West - 0% done
  • South River Loop - 0% done
  • Total plants removed - 10 (June 4, 2016)

Ashe Juniper

The Ashe Juniper, also known as Mountain Cedar, will take over any grassy area if given enough time. For this reason we remove the smaller trees (Diameter<4") in the grassy areas from time to time. A single mature tree will often have 50 or more saplings growing around it.

In addition, the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler is often seen or heard in Bee Suck Hollow. To improve on its habitat it is recommended that the small Ashe Junipers be removed to allow the larger Junipers, Oaks and other trees that serve as nesting trees will have more resources. The Juniper bark also provides nesting materials for the Golden-cheeked Warblers.

  • Prairie Area - 70% done
  • Green Pond Overlook - 95% done
  • Bee Suck Hollow - 2% done
     
  • Total Trees & Saplings removed - 1,659 (June 4, 2016)

Future Invasive Removals

  • Periwinkle - TV road south segment
  • Privet (Ligustrum) - West Access Loop, TV road, Cox Hollow, New Canyon
  • Chinaberry Trees - Hidden Springs trail, Ponds Trail, SW Kiosk Trail, Dam Green Strip
  • Johnson Grass - North Area, Mural Wall, Stone Bridge Access Road

Giant Reed Grass
Arundo donax
Giant Reed Grass - Arundo donax
Heavenly Bamboo
Nandian domestica
Heavenly Bamboo - Nandina domestica
Texas (Malta) Star Thistle
Centaurea melitensis
Malta Star Thistle - Centaurea melitensis
Pampas Grass
Cortaderia selloana
Pampas Grass - Cortaderia selloana
Common Mullein
Verbascum thapsus
Common Mullein - Verbascum thapsus
Periwinkle
Vinca major
Periwinkle - Vinca major