White Rock Lake in Dallas. That’s where I live, right on the edge of this wildlife refuge, right on the edge of this oasis in the middle of urban hell.
It’s full of resident and migratory birds, such as ducks, herons and egrets, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, finches, sparrows, swallows, flycatchers, blackbirds, martins, and many, many more; so many turtles, snakes and fish that you scarcely comprehend their numbers even though you see them all over the place; all sorts of diurnal and nocturnal mammals, like coyotes, foxes, raccoons, armadillos, minks, skunks and opossums; an unimaginable variety of insects and arthropods that outnumber us in a few short steps to the tune of hundreds to one, and when measured in our field of vision, they outnumber us millions to one; fields of wildflowers and grasses, dense woodlands thriving with innumerable kinds of trees, and waterways, marshes and shallows overflowing with aquatic plants and freshwater neighbors; and the list goes on.
This lake provides sanctuary to creatures great and small, and to flora so diverse that it boggles the mind.
All of this depends on the lake, on its delicate ecosystem made up of various types of environments, from inlets and confluences, to marshes and creeks, to shallow bays just right for wading, and to the depths of the lake itself.
But the city of Dallas has decided to annihilate all of this.
First comes an atrocious plan pushed through by a lighting company to illuminate the entire shoreline at night as a “proactive measure” to prevent crime after dark.
Almost all crime at the lake occurs during the day. That’s statistically proven and indisputable.
What has happened is that a slick salesman for this devilish lighting company shafted the public by sneaking through a plan at taxpayer expense to put lights up all over the lake, to essentially destroy the nighttime environment by taking a lack of light pollution and turning it into one of the worst sources of light pollution one can imagine.
Doing so will draw crime into the park at night. I mean, now that criminals can see and people will be lulled into a false sense of security by all the light, it will become a haven for robbers and rapists searching for easy prey—prey that’s easy to see and easy to assault, I mean.
And what happens to all the wildlife that relies on the dark for sustenance, for sleep, for safety?
It will be forced away from the lake and into surrounding neighborhoods. People should start bringing their children, dogs and cats inside right now, because roving bands of coyotes and raccoons can bring death and destruction to anything that gets in their way.
But not wanting to stop the destruction at installing unnecessary, overly-expensive lights that will degrade the nighttime scenery and destroy the ecosystem, Dallas also came up with a plan to fix the spillway that will leave carnage and emptiness in its wake.
For two years they plan to lower the lake level by almost three feet (a meter) so constructions workers don’t get their feet wet while repairing the damaged retaining walls at the spillway. They also intend to fell a vast swath of trees around the spillway.
These two acts will put the final nail in the lake’s coffin. Oh, and all of this is being done with no environmental impact studies to quantify how the lake and its inhabitants will respond to these grotesqueries.
Abominations that reek of mishandling stewardship of White Rock Lake and its unique ecology, Dallas has foregone all sanity and humanity in the name of ignorance and avarice.
Sunset Bay will be left a dry, parched flatland where wading birds, ducks, geese and all manner of wildlife currently flourish.
The tributaries that feed the lake will be drained too low to sustain the thriving life that now fills them.
The diverse rookery surrounding the spillway will be emptied of its nests as trees are destroyed and humans bring heavy machinery and disruption right through the heart of new life that lives there.
Winter migrants, some of whom are already starting to arrive, will suddenly find the lake unable to support them until next spring—if it can even get them through the first month of winter.
The lack of food will cause year-round residents to flee, and that includes the hawks, egrets, herons, coyotes, foxes, snakes, turtles, ducks, geese, and all manner of beasts.
Essentially, both of these projects will make the lake uninhabitable to wildlife and uninviting to people. This spectacular balance between nature and city will be destroyed, and what will be left will be a disgusting example of human greed and obliteration of that which stands in the way: nature.
Sans environmental impact studies, sans listening to residents of the lake and surrounding areas, sans forethought and care, sans comprehension of the beauty they are about to destroy, the city of Dallas should be ashamed of itself for even considering these plans, let alone allowing them to move forward.
And let me add to the list of shame the lighting company that kept residents and neighbors in the dark while pushing their illuminating hell on the city. Hossley Lighting should be boycotted, derided, insulted, ignored, and put out of business. They actually got the lighting plan put into motion without notice, so the first inkling we had of this horrific idea was the sudden appearance of lights along the west shore of the lake. Mind you, the city won’t even repair the existing lights at piers and in parking lots, but by golly they’ll add more lights at an unbelievably high cost without any electrical infrastructure in place to support them. And all at Hossley’s behest. I wonder who’s getting paid to sell off our park to this reprehensible company…
Let us also put blame on the White Rock Lake Foundation and members of this injurious organization such as board member Susan Falvo. She proffers her bought-and-paid-for vocal diarrhea as though it matters, as though anyone wants to hear the political rambles of someone who explains away this violation of trust and obliteration of our beautiful lake with phrases such as “proactive on security” and “before there is a problem.” She herself said, “The lake is very safe.” Why then does she think demolishing its grandeur and beauty will keep it that way? The answer is simple: She’s a waste of skin and a bag of hot air with her pockets lined by someone who stands to make money from the deal.
Counting birds alone, more than 217 species will be impacted by these miscarriages of lake management, and that doesn’t include the innumerable and vast legion of other life that lives here alongside we the people. What these two projects portend for the lake is a complete destruction of all that is, a violation of our shared trust of and habitation alongside this urban wildlife preserve.
Standing upon this precipice, this edifice of what is as it slowly gives way to what will be, I feel all of my photographs from this lake have become a memorial to canonize the once stunning White Rock Lake as it falls from grace and becomes the commercial example of how money is the root of all evil, the driving force behind man’s wanton destruction of nature in an attempt to make it better.
I’m ashamed of my city, disappointed with Dallas and its lack of oversight for the wonders that abound within its borders, and I’m horrified by the White Rock Lake Foundation, Recon Inc. and Hossley Lighting. They deserve nothing less than our most profound contempt. I can only hope they eventually reap the devilish rewards deserved for these violations of the lake.