Preservationists fear impact of music festival at Plano park

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 6:15 PM

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

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PLANO — Every year, 100,000 people strong pack Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits music festival.

The city of Plano wants to bring music to a park of its own, although on a much smaller scale.

The city signed a half-million dollar contract to bring a two-day concert event to the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. The park includes native prairie land that many want to protect.

The images of North Texas native prairie are striking. With so much development in Dallas-Fort Worth, there's not much of it left.

That's why Plano nature preservationists fear a two-day music festival in Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve could forever disturb this local treasure.

"One of the concert sites is slated to go right on top of this very nice prairie remnant," said Carol Clark, president of the Collin County chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

The city hired Live Nation to put on the show, which is expected to attract 20,000 people.

"Portable potties, 20,000 pairs of feet don't mix very well when you're trying to save a preserve," said Tammy Welch, a preservationist who fears the rare prairie land could be destroyed.

Clark believes the city has a unique opportunity to use the swath of prairie land as an educational tool — but only if it's protected.

She met with Plano Parks and Recreation officials, who are listening.

"We'll probably end up fencing it off with a split rail fence, using education signage, because we see that as an opportunity to teach people about the prairie and how it's disappearing," said Amy Fortenberry, Plano’s Parks and Recreation director.

Fortenberry said while her department’s mission includes conservation and preservation of native plants and wildlife, their main focus is bringing people to the park, which is considered a hidden gem in the city's extensive park system.

The preservationists argue that if it is a nature preserve, it should be just that — preserved.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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