Restored to its original native Blackland prairie state, 14-acre Bluestem Park is home to dozens of species of native grasses and plants, 500 native trees and shrubs, and diverse wildlife. It is a tremendous natural resource that will serve generations to come, and a community asset for the enjoyment of residents, visitors, students, families, and employees of local businesses.
Hillwood‘s decision to restore the historic reach of Upper Whites Branch and recreate a unique, natural, native prairie ecosystem was driven by the many benefits the project would provide to the community such as ecologically sound drainage for the surrounding developed area and a recreational and educational amenity for the development and larger community. Bluestem Park also promotes water conservation by cutting losses from evapotranspiration.
the park honors the land’s history and natural beauty – all with sustainability and stewardship of the land for the future in mind.
Aerial photos from the early 1940s provided landscape designers with a roadmap for recreating the original stream, while the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provided guidance for selecting and planting native grasses, trees, wildflowers and other prairie plants. The result is a native landscape that has not been viewed in its original state for more than 70 years. The park features called for over 3,000 linear feet of pedestrian trail with three pedestrian bridges, allowing visitors to experience the restored stream and adjacent native grassland within Bluestem Park.
Project Description & History
The Bluestem Park project restored approximately 2,200 linear feet of stream and created a 14-acre native prairie area. This resulting environment provides habitat for wildlife, improves water quality by filtering storm water through native vegetation, reduces air pollutants, cools the immediate area, and assists with carbon sequestration. The use of native plants clustered in hydrozones and the elimination of commercial turf grasses reduces long-term water usage.
Bluestem Park will conserve an estimated 14 million gallons of water annually through reduced and targeted irrigation, produce approximately two tons of oxygen per year, remove approximately 31 pounds of air pollution per year, and sequester approximately one ton of carbon per year.
During the construction of Bluestem Park, Hillwood reclaimed land that was altered in the 1940s for agricultural purposes and returned it to its original terrain. The project even includes the restoration of a natural stream that had been turned into a man-made pond for watering cattle. By comparison, the restorative approach of this project was not the simplest or cheapest option, and in the end, it yielded less developable acreage; however, it was the most innovative and enhancive way to accommodate natural drainage and provide an attractive recreational and educational amenity to the citizens of north Fort Worth.
The use of native landscaping vs commercial turf grasses will save approximately 14 million gallons of water annually, which equates to a savings of $80,000 dollars/year. Hillwood believes that this unique restored stream and native grassland habitat provides a distinctive gathering place for the Alliance community that will attract residents and employers interested in active lifestyles and the natural beauty of native landscapes.
Since its opening in May 2016, Bluestem Park has hosted numerous community activities such as annual races. Bluestem Park also serves as a living laboratory for members of the community through educational, on-site signage, visitors can explore and experience the reclamation efforts and the flora, fauna and wildlife that now inhabit the park.