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Tree Planting Event Is The First Step To New Park In Southern Dallas

A woman throws dirt into a pot.
Jay Flowers
Around 20 volunteers planted trees in the Highland Hills neighborhood with the non-profit Groundwork Dallas.

About 50 trees were planted in Dallas' Highland Hills neighborhood over the weekend to help balance development that's thinned out greenspace.

The tree planting event started with a demonstration. Up to 20 volunteers gathered in a circle around Alex Marquard with the non-profit Groundwork Dallas.

“So the first thing you need to do is dig a hole and lay the tree down. You can kick it or take the shovel,” said Marquard as he thumps the tree on the floor.

He’s teaching the volunteers the key to successfully planting a tree. He hands out shovels, gloves and rakes.

A pile of shovels.
Jay Flowers
A pile of shovels lay on the ground.

This initiative is part of The Trust for Public Land’s development of the Judge Charles R. Rose Community Park, which will be located in South Dallas.

“It’s not just about building a great park, but we want to help the neighborhood around the park be as walkable as it is and so folks can get to that park and enjoy the walk there,” said Robert Kent, Texas state director for The Trust For Public Land.

Judge Charles R. Rose Community Park will be part of a network of parks that will link the southern part of the city with the northern part.

In late February, Dallas City Council voted unanimously to approve the city’s acquisition of nearly 82 acres of high-quality forest land along the banks of the Woody Branch of Five Mile Creek Urban Greenbelt Master Plan.

This acquisition represents the largest addition to the Dallas park system in over 20 years. It'll provide new park amenities for the Oak Cliff community and protect a forested sanctuary from being swallowed into the highly developed urban area that surrounds it.

“When you look kind of at construction, sometimes you're like, 'Oh, no,' but then when you see trees you're like, 'This is great! Things are coming back!’ It's more family oriented,” said Rotina Jones, manager at the Highland Hills Branch Library, where the tree planting event took place.

Jones said the neighborhood is growing fast and many trees have been cut down in the process.

The Trust for Public Land gave away 50 free trees to residents. They were able to choose from five types of trees: Cedar Elm, Mexican White Oak, Eastern Red Bud, Chinkapin Oak and Chinese Pistache.

Courtesy of Trust For Public Land

Volunteers planted the trees in residents' front yards and gave them a "tree care guide" after.

“I'm a product to 75216. So in South Oak Cliff we don't have as much green space, and we don't have the opportunities for families to enjoy time with their children outside," said LaDondra Wilson, who came to volunteer and is a member of the nonprofit Mayor's Star Council. So we want to make sure that that's provided to them. Planting these trees providing shade to the families, we think that that's a great contribution to the city.".

The first two years after the planting, The Trust For Public Land volunteers will continue to check on the trees and water them to make sure they thrive.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.