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For the Love of the Lake Helps to Preserve Dallas's Urban Oasis

By Marina Jokic

Regular lake and park clean-ups, fundraising drives, and educational events are the primary focus of FTLOTL. Listening to the needs of residents has been one of the most important roles the organization has played throughout the years. Marketing Committee member Debbie Finger says FTLOTL's work has been incredibly meaningful. She cites as an example the recent collaboration with the Dallas Park and Recreation Department on reversing shoreline erosion.

FTLOTL celebrated its twenty-year anniversary by holding the "iheartthelake" festival in November 2015, which brought hundreds of people together in support of the work and mission of the organization. One of the utmost accomplishments, Finger says, is transforming the White Rock Lake Park from an unsafe and polluted space to a clean and welcoming public park. The founding members met by holding monthly clean-ups of the park. Eventually, interest in keeping the park clean and fundraising for improvements grew from that small group of people who simply started by picking up trash.

Since 1995, FTLOTL's focus has been on cleaning and educating the community to "reduce, reuse, and recycle." Over the years, FTLOTL has started working on reforestation and monitoring the water in the tributaries that flow into White Rock Lake. Their accomplishments include improvements to the physical environment and the preservation of artistic and historical features in White Rock Lake Park. FTLOTL's efforts made possible the workout centers at Sunset Bay and T.P. Hill, the "Going Places" playground at T.P. Hill, support for Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs, support for the White Rock Lake Museum at the Bath House Cultural Center, and over thirty-two park benches and bike racks.

Current projects include the "Second Saturday Shoreline Spruce Up" whereby volunteers meet on the second Saturday of every month to pick up trash around the lake. "We've been sprucing up the park since April 1996 without ever missing a second Saturday," Finger says. Their Adopt-A-Shoreline program, founded in cooperation with Dallas Park and Recreation Department, consists of forty-nine groups, each assigned to maintaining a particular section of the lake.

Some other interesting initiatives include the Celebration Tree Grove- an area where visitors can purchase plaques in remembrance of loved ones. All Celebration Tree Grove funds support reforestation and tree maintenance. In 2013 and 2014, FTLOTL planted over two hundred trees and funded their irrigation. The Texas Stream Team and FTLOTL volunteers have been monitoring the quality of water in tributary streams feeding into the lake since 2005. Texas Stream Team is administered through a cooperative partnership between Texas State University and the EPA, while FTLOTL provides the facilities for training volunteers to test the water.

For the Love of the Lake has been improving the quality of life of local residents for many years through its environmental work. Organizing the community has been incredibly rewarding, says Finger, and FTLOTL hopes to continue its work for many years to come.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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