MANSFIELD The Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park is 80 acres of nature smack dab in the middle of Mansfield.

'I think 'tranquil'... I think 'peace,'' said city of Mansfield spokeswoman Belinda Willis.

The city bought the land for the park from relatives of the Oliver family, owners of the property since the 1960s.

The land at 1650 Matlock Road is prime real estate, but rather than sell to developers, the family wanted to keep the land untouched.

'It meant a lot ... to 'Pops,' Mr. Oliver, and he said this is where roamings end. This is where it all comes together, and you can relax and be a part of the land,' Willis said. 'They really wanted that to continue, and saw this as a place that the whole entire community could enjoy.'

Oliver Park is unlike all others in Mansfield; a natural playground where wildlife and woods abound.

'Don't bring a baseball glove and a baseball bat; don't bring a basketball; bring a bug net and binoculars,' said Sam Kieschnick, the city's naturalist.

Officials say a treehouse overlook above Walnut Creek is the perfect place for birdwatching.

Trails will lead visitors through forests, to rock formations from the Cretaceous period, past prairies and wildflower meadows.

It represents a respite from the noise and lights of the city that thousands can now enjoy.

'You can get down into the property and not even hear the sounds of traffic,' Willis said.

Grand opening ceremonies at Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park are set for Saturday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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