Cook’s Slough Nature Park has an interesting history and for my fellow green initiative audience, I think you’ll find it particularly fascinating. The ground on which the park sits is the former site of the city’s landfill!
I recognize that this post might not appeal to a greater more global audience, but I wanted to dedicate a post to this nature park that is in my hometown and has been growing increasingly on me as a favorite destination to walk, enjoy nature and take photographs. If you aren’t from the area or even ever plan to visit Uvalde, perhaps you’ll still find some interest in the history of how this park came to existence. If you have a similar park in your local area, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
From the intersection of Hwy. 90 and Hwy. 83, go south on Hwy. 83 for .4 mile to FM117. Follow FM 117 south for .9 mile to CR 106 West (at the flashing yellow light). Turn right and the entrance to the park is .5 mile. Heart of Texas Birding Trail sign HOTW #26. (Texas Hill Country Trail Region ~ web entry
Cook’s Slough Nature Park has an interesting history and for my fellow green initiative audience, I think you’ll find it particularly fascinating. The ground on which the park sits is the former site of the city’s landfill, and is actually a sewage treatment facility!
“Built on the site of a former landfill by the city and the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the park is a man-made wetland that is part of the city’s sewage treatment facilities. Wastewater is cleaned through a natural multistep process of settling ponds and mud flats that break down bacteria and filter the water before it is reintroduced into the Leona River.” (Austin Chronicle;3DEC10
From my research, it appears that around 1987 the area was converted into it’s initial stage of water treatment facility; primarily designed for ‘zero discharge’ treatment of irrigation water. With increased demands for water, in 2000 the city was faced with what to do with the facility to meet the needs of the community. In lieu of taking a more industrial approach to address the treatment of it’s sewage, the city decided to instead create a 25 acre wetland.
“That’s when the city listened to Uvalde resident Ken Cave, owner of the Kenneth M. Cave and Associates environmental consulting firm. Cave’s vision was to develop constructed wetlands to improve water quality in Cook’s Slough and the Leona River, to insure a wetland water supply, and to provide waterfowl and wildlife habitat in an educational setting. “It took a long time to put all the pieces together, but we did it at a fraction of the cost of a new mechanical system that would have done the same job,” says Cave.” (Treatment Plant Operator;JUL13
The local chapter of Texas Native Plant Society have done numerous projects around the park. This includes signage of native plants along the trails and guides that are available at the main trail head. I sincerely appreciate their work and will be watching for upcoming opportunities to join them on work events.
Up until a few weeks ago I am embarrassed to admit but I had never visited this park, and I have been a local Uvaldean for many years. With my rekindled hobby of photography, I was looking for a quick place to go and practice with my new equipment and I remembered the park and thought I’d give it a try. Was I ever shocked when I entered the park for the first time! I have met many visitors from close and far at the park and they have all shared with me the same experience of how wonderful it is.
The park has all the elements an outdoors enthusiast looks for in a destination. It is abundant with trails, wildlife and plants. I have captured with my camera more birds than I can name (another hobby I am trying to learn), reptiles (especially turtles, and a few snakes – not photographed since I was high stepping to get past) and numerous native wildflowers and cacti. The designers of the trails are to be commended in their vision. The trails connect four separate viewing stations, each with their own canopies and sitting areas and with their own unique habitat for observing wildlife. This place has now become a sanctuary to me and I visit it as often as I can. If you are unable to visit this place on your own, I hope you enjoy my attempt to capture the beauty of this place in my photographs.
Cook's Slough Sanctuary, Uvalde, TX 78801, USA