The goals of GreenSpaceDFW are (1) to help establish a large, urban nature park by assembling all the publicly-owned land in the Upper Trinity River corridor into a fully integrated nature park and (2) to help the City of Dallas implement its approved Great Trinity Forest Management Plan. In both situations, Trinity Coalition is going to encourage the local municipalities to seek approval of a National Park Service unit designations for the nature areas.

Proposed Trinity River National Recreation Area

The Trinity River flows through geography in the D-FW region that is controlled by nine City governments, plus Dallas County for the area not within any City’s boundaries. Trinity Coalition has been successful in getting all ten of these local governments to support, in a letter to the National Park Service, the assembly of the Trinity River Paddling Trail and the application to the National Park Service for National Recreation Trail status for this paddling trail.

Trinity Coalition intends to follow the same procedure to assemble all the publicly-owned green space in the Trinity River basin and apply to the National Park Service for National Recreation Area status for this nature park. The model that we are following is the same one used by the Atlanta area when it formed and received the National Park unit status for theirChattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The National Park Service reports visitation for Chattahoochee River NRA of approximately 3,000,000 visitors per year and over 30,000,000 for the last ten years.

The lists below compare some features for the existing Chattahoochee River NRA with the proposed Trinity River NRA:

Chattahoochee River

  • Geographic size: 10,000 acres
  • River Length: 48 miles
  • River access: 12 launch sites
  • Activity centers: 16 local parks
  • Visitor centers: One
  • Golf courses: None
  • Bicycle trails: approx. 10 miles
  • Botanic gardens: None
  • Zoos: None
  • Lakes: None

Trinity River

  • Geographic size: 40,000 acres
  • River Length: 130 miles
  • River access: 21 launch sites
  • Activity centers: 33 local parks
  • Visitor centers: Four
  • Golf courses: Ten
  • Bicycle trails: approx. 50 miles
  • Botanic gardens: Two
  • Zoos: One
  • Lakes: Two

This side-by-side comparison shows the proposed Trinity River National Recreation Area to be much larger and with many more outdoor recreation activities than the already highly-successful Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. In fact, using Wikipedia as the data-source, it appears that Trinity River National Recreation Area would likely be the World’s Largest Urban Nature Park, if the definition of “urban” is that over half the park is within, or surrounded by, a census bureau-specified “urban area”.

The multi-year process that Trinity Coalition is helping lead to form this Mega nature-park begins with creating a map of the proposed park. Get this map by clicking here. The next step is to create community acceptance of the need for this park and specifics on what this park would be, which Trinity Coalition has already started doing.

Then the local governments will need to agree to both place their green spaces into this proposed park and seek National Park Service designation for the Trinity River National Recreation Area. Finally, the federal government will need to follow its procedures for the establishment of a National Park Service unit, probably National Recreation Area, for the park. Unlike the establishment of the Trinity River National Recreation Trail, which was merely an application process, to attain the National Recreation Area status requires congressional approval and the signature of the President. Trinity Coalition has already begun this multi-year process of seeking congressional input and support.

You can join the Trinity Coalition by clicking here if you want your voice to be heard regarding this project.

Possible Great Trinity Forest National Preserve

The Great Trinity Forest is said to be the largest bottomland, urban, hardwood forest in America, and maybe in the world. This bottomland area is the river basin of the Trinity River, the longest river fully contained in the state of Texas. The Great Trinity Forest is owned by the City of Dallas, whose census bureau-specified urban area surrounds the forest. (The census bureau’s definition of urban is based on population density and the degree of impervious land cover, which would tend to exclude all non-populated forests.)

In 2008 the Dallas City Council approved the Great Trinity Forest Management Plan (GTFMP), with the aim of actively managing at least parts of the 7,553 acres within the borders specified by the plan and creating low-impact recreation, mostly paved bicycling trails that would double as emergency access. The Financial Crisis and its impact on the City’s finances precluded any funding for implementing the plan. Then time passed by and the plan stayed filed away. You can get a copy of the Great Trinity Forest Management Plan by clicking here

In 2018, the Trinity Coalition board unanimously approved a resolution asking Dallas to begin implementing the GTFMP and offering to help the City secure funding to begin implementingthe plan. While that offer remains in place, Trinity Coalition is developing a plan to implement the essence of the plan on a small section of the forest, probably only 10 acres or so. This would be a beta test site, aimed at testing on a small scale what would be done on the full forest at a later date. Once funding is secured to do the beta test, Trinity Coalition will work with the City on securing approval for the implementation.

In June, 2019, the Dallas City Council approved a resolution aimed at preserving the Great Trinity Forest, an act applauded by Trinity Coalition. After receiving approval from Dallas,Trinity Coalition intends to explore receiving a unit designation from the National Park Service (NPS), probably that of National Preserve, for the Great Trinity Forest. The NPS currently has 18 national preserves, including one in Texas, the Big Thicket National Preserve. Many of these preserves are very large areas, some over a million acres. However, there are two National Preserves that are smaller than the Great Trinity Forest, so small size does not appear to be a deterrent for gaining this NPS designation.

Congressional approval is needed for National Preserve status, similar to the process for the National Recreation Area designation. Trinity Coalition will evaluate the benefit of combining the request for the Trinity River National Recreation Area and that of the Great Trinity Forest National Preserve into a single approval process after it is clear that the community in North Texas and within the City of Dallas agree with bringing the National Park Service brand to their areas.

You can join the Trinity Coalition by clicking here if you want your voice to be heard regarding this project.

Discover the 4 Nature Centers along the Trinity River in DFW

Trinity River Audubon Center

6500 Great Trinity Forest Way Dallas, TX 75217


Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area

201 E. Jones St., corner of Jones and Kealy streets, Lewisville, TX 75057


River Legacy

Main entrance: 701 NW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington, TX 76006

Collins Street entrance: 3020 N. Collins St., Arlington, TX 76006

Science Center: 703 NW Green Oaks Blvd, Arlington, TX 76006


Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

9601 Fossil Ridge Road Fort Worth, TX 76135


The Trinity Coalition

Providing Conservation through Recreation