This year, we’ve taken a lot of time to focus on health, well-being, and the importance of nature as a tool for maintaining both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that time spent in nature has so many health benefits.
We’ve also come to look at our prairie restoration as healing nature. Removing invasive species, planting native species, and getting our parcel of land back to where it was prior to human intervention is our goal. The more we can do to restore our native blackland prairie, the more it benefits native species that live in Dallas, but also as a way-station for migratory species.
And the thing that ties it all together for the volunteers at Twelve Hills is the simple act of kindness, be it picking up trash, planting and cultivating native species, or even making donations is enough to make our hearts full, and in turn, helps promote our mental health. We’re Healing Nature to Heal Ourselves – and that is the theme of Twelve Hills’ North Texas Giving Day campaign for 2020.
Thank you, longtime supporters, for providing matching funds:
Join these generous Oak Cliff donors to support Twelve Hills!
We are excited that a water line was installed at Twelve Hills during July and we want to thank Heritage Oak Cliff for supporting the project with a Nonprofit Grant! The water line extends through half of the Nature Center. It will allow volunteers to more easily water newly installed native plants.
Rusty blackhaw viburnum, aromatic sumac, elbow bush, Mexican plum, redbud, toothache tree, and a diverse group of native grasses and wildflowers will benefit from water this summer. These plants will get established over the next couple years and then will not need water. Visitors will notice even more flowers, birds, and butterflies as we create a diverse prairie habitat!
We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.
Meet Mario Muñoz! He is one of the volunteers that manages our doggie waste station, arguably one of the most important jobs! He helps keep our preserve free of doggie bags, and safe for our hikers. We want to extend a HUGE thanks to Mario for supporting Twelve Hills!
How long have you lived in Oak Cliff?
My wife Mayra and I have lived in Oak Cliff for 2 and a half years
What draws you to Twelve Hills?
It’s a hidden gem and I love that Twelve Hills is just a short walk from my home.
What made you decide to become our volunteer?
I love helping out as much as I can in the community.
Jason Lenox and Matthew Taylor live in Kessler Woods and are extremely happy to have the Twelve Hills Nature Center as their neighbor. So happy in fact, that in 2019, they decided to turn their philanthropic eyes towards Twelve Hills and make a sizable donation to the organization with the understanding that this money be used toward capital improvements. They both wanted to be able to see the impact of their donation.
As Jason puts it, “Twelve Hills provides a unique moment in our neighborhood that is relatively unavailable to city dwellers. An amazing Blackland Prairie that is rough, native and quiet with birds, foxes and a wholesome way to spend some time.”
The idea of improving the entrance located at the southwest edge of the center is in Twelve Hills’ master plan, and this was the perfect opportunity. Jason and Matt’s donation, in conjunction with part of a grant received from the Hoblitzelle Foundation, would be used to greatly enhance the Nature Center and its accessibility to all neighbors for years to come. Local landscape architect, Christa McCall donated her design services to the project and the result is a planting of native grasses that create a simple, natural entrance that works with the topography. The grasses are punctuated with select prairie wildflowers and a few native boulders.
Jason and Matt are extremely pleased with the finished product. The design reflects the modern homes in Kessler Woods and blends nicely into the surrounding natural landscape of Twelve Hills. Jason also noted that more and more neighbors are using the entrance. Their hope is for others to be encouraged to consider gifts to Twelve Hills as well for additional programs and improvements.
Twelve Hills board is extremely grateful to Jason and Matt, Christa McCall and the Hoblitzelle Foundation for their support.
Photo by Christina Childress Photography
Join us from your home April 24-27 for the annual iNaturalist CNC.
Every year we invite the neighborhood out to Twelve Hills for a local BioBlitz. What’s a BioBlitz, you ask? It’s an annual competition held by iNaturalist for cities to get outside and document all their flora and fauna. This year, they’re holding no competition and encourage everyone to explore their own homes and backyards. Twelve Hills is encouraging the same!
How to Participate
1. Download the iNaturalist app to your smart phone.
2. Create an account
3. Start snapping photos of insects or other creatures using the cultivated plants in your backyard as habitat or a food source.
4. Share them on iNaturalist to help researches and officials track biodiversity in your area!
5. Log into the website to help other identify their findings!
For more information on this year’s CNC visit iNaturalist.org and learn how to participate safely from home! They’ve got tons of tips on how to attract moths, where you’ll find neat insects and more! Remember, every observation helps track species migrating, emerging, and can help us identify what invasives might be making their way into DFW.
Hopefully we’ll have our team set up for the next City Nature Challenge! Until then, keep enjoying Twelve Hills responsibly!
Lee Kelton, a longtime volunteer at Twelve Hills, passed away last weekend. A Kings Highway resident, Lee was involved with Twelve Hills early on, helping clear the land of debris to prepare for the Nature Center.
Lee was part of the teaching team for the Rosemont Elementary School fifth-grade Nature Leaders and I think this was one of his favorite activities. Lee brought his sense of fun to the program, benefitting the students and adults alike. His rapport with the kids was wonderful to watch, part of the magic he made from equal parts tolerance, gentleness, wit, caring, and experience as a dad and granddad. He was a favorite mentor for all the Nature Leaders, they all wanted to work with him. Lee Kelton offered his students a wonderful example of being a leader on behalf of nature.
Lee rescued and planted native grasses, removed invasive plants, helped with nature walks and activities, open houses, the fundraiser, wherever there was a need. He was a friend and an integral part of our volunteer team who always lent a hand and a story.
We’ll dearly miss Lee.
Remarks and quotes from friends
I met Lee Kelton 25 years ago. That puts me in the “new-ish” category of friendships for him since he spent his life gathering new friends and keeping them because once you were graced with his friendship you made sure not to lose it. Lee’s gregarious nature and sense of fun; his loyalty and kindness; his energy and helpfulness …. all of these attributes and more made our lives better, made us smile a lot more.
He and his wife, Lybo, threw the best parties ever. But they aren’t just about fun. Their incredible volunteer work for a LONG list of non-profit organizations is hard to match. I was lucky to work with Lee on one such project because of our shared interest in environmental education. Through the North Texas Master Naturalists we both became involved with the Nature Leaders program, an after school course offered by Rosemont Elementary and Twelve Hills Nature Center.
The Nature Leaders program is offered to select Rosemont fifth-graders to study earth sciences in an outdoor classroom — the prairie reclamation project at Twelve Hills. Not only do the students learn about integral parts of a prairie habitat but they also learn leadership skills to help them become good stewards of the environment.
A core group of NTMN volunteers administers the five-month-long Nature Leaders course and Lee was an integral part of the group. Not only did he co-lead some lessons, he was always ready to assist with whatever the classes needed — providing equipment, outreach trunks, class setup and assistance. He was unflagging and unhesitatingly ready to offer a hand.
Lee brought his sense of fun to the program, benefiting the students and adults alike. His rapport with the kids was wonderful to watch, part of the magic he made from equal parts tolerance, gentleness, wit, caring, and experience as a dad and granddad. He was a favorite mentor for all the Nature Leaders, they all wanted to work with him.
Lee Kelton offered his students a wonderful example of being a leader on behalf of nature. He inspired his NTMN peers with his astounding work ethic. And to the world he exemplified what true friendship is. There are so many affected by his death …. family, friends, neighbors, volunteers …. but the lessons Lee taught us will live on.
Lee was involved with Twelve Hills from the very beginning, cleaning up debris from the apartments and other things too. From the time he became a Master Naturalist, class of 2012, he took part in all Twelve Hills volunteer projects. He annually taught Nature Leaders, helped us restore the prairie, hauled things, represented Twelve Hills at open houses, helped with Grape Expectations, and any need that came up. He would surprise me by anticipating needs and showing up with laminated posters, maps, fossils, books, or a truck full of Little Bluestem, all of which went to good use.. He always wanted to bring the water wagon that belonged to the LANDS program for the Nature Leaders to experience. We never had a year we could fit it into the schedule.
Lee loved working with our fifth-grade Nature Leaders and was on our team since I can remember. The students loved him. Every year a group of boys coalesced around Lee, he called them his posse. They wanted Lee for their teacher when we broke into smaller groups. He engaged them with fascinating stories about nature while teaching content. They had fun and came away with an appreciation of the natural world. If I see any of the former posse members in passing, they always ask where Lee is.
Lee always had a twinkle in is eye, and contributed his time and wonderful spirit to so many other worthy projects, I don’t know how he fit it all in. He was highly involved with planning the Irish Festival as well as the Master Naturalists booth there, Oak Cliff Earth Day and the MN Booth there, he helped with the educational trunk management, and always made time to help at Texas Discovery Gardens. Lee was a nonstop source of good in the community.
I only just befriend Lee last year, though I lived just a few blocks down for the last three years. I met him with the Master Naturalists and quickly realized he was “my people.” Sitting with him in the back of classes was always fun. It was like sitting with the class clown at school. He was so funny and had a hilarious remark to add to everything.
He was whip smart and was so knowledgeable about land management, native plants, and generally how to get things done. I’m going to miss him dearly and will carry on a piece of him every time I work at Twelve Hills.
Neighbor died last night.
A Master Naturalist.
Loved to work the soil.
He tended gardens,
parks, and the nature preserve
in our neighborhood.
Volunteered at schools, teaching
My wife loved him.
He taught her which flowers to
plant to help our bees.
Fitting that in death,
his final act will be to
feed the plants once more.
Update: Twelve Hills reopened on Monday, but we ask that everyone please respect social distancing, use the newly created step offs to give others space when passing, and maintain a 6-foot distance from non-household members. Thank you!
Twelve Hills Nature Center has made the difficult decision to close the preserve over the Easter holiday weekend, effective immediately. This is an important next step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and is in alignment with the recent decision to close all Texas State Parks to the public, as well as the City of Dallas public park closures.
We know that Twelve Hills is one of the few remaining places where Dallas residents can stretch their legs, get exercise, and gather peace of mind in a natural environment. It is a valuable space and we are so honored to be able to give that space to the residents of Oak Cliff. However, with the Easter holiday coming, it is recommended by the city of Dallas to close to prevent overcrowding, especially because other parks are closing.
This was not an easy choice to make, and though we feel our community has risen to the call for social distancing and giving one another space on the trail, we are concerned that too many people will attempt to hold their celebrations in the nature preserve. We thank you for your understanding and patience.
The Twelve Hills board will work hard to stay connected with the North Oak Cliff community during this time and will keep you all informed of reopening via our social media accounts and our website, twelvehills.org. We hope to reopen as quickly as possible, but in the meantime, invite you enjoy the content and resources on our website.
– The Twelve Hills Board of Directors
A Note from Twelve Hills Nature Center
During this time of “social distancing” we know that it’s challenging and scary, and that people are working to stay safe and healthy. As a community nature center, we wanted to update everyone regarding our response to COVID 19 and plans for Twelve Hills for the foreseeable future. Our team has been actively monitoring the recommended protocols and have determined a plan of action for the Twelve Hills. We are still open from dawn to dusk daily but are opting to postpone or cancel all group activities until further announced. All preschool walks, Nature Leader walks, foraging, etc. will be suspended, however, we will be sharing as many of our teaching resources online as we have available.
Get Up and Go Outside
With all the terrible news about sickness and economic uncertainty, stress is sure to creep in. But exposure to nature can help combat anxiety and many more ailments due to stress, depression, and sedentary living.
” Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.”
– Harvard Health Publishing
Thank you for your interest in Twelve Hills Nature Center, and we hope you’ll make good use of the trails during our national crisis and going forward. We hope to have plenty of activities and events later in the year. Please check our website for more updates and self-guided hiking information, and follow us on social media for more pictures of plants and animals!
The Twelve Hills Board of Directors