A 148-acre nature center in League City preserves what remains of a coastal wetland as new construction and new roads continue to multiply around it.
The Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center, 1220 Egret Bay Blvd., is an anomaly in the growing city of 105,000, the largest in Galveston County.
The center could have been next-door neighbors with Amazon’s second headquarters if the online retail giant had chosen League City for its much-sought campus. In September 2017, the city proposed a site to Amazon just south of the nature center extending from Egret Bay Boulevard to Davis Road. But Amazon passed on League City and zeroed in on its final list of 20 cities.
Developers are eager to build the next upscale housing development or marina near Clear Lake, but a strong management plan is in place to protect the nature center, a regional council of government said in honoring the city’s planning, officials said.
The Houston-Galveston Area Council recognized the nature center Feb. 9 with one of its Parks and Natural Areas awards. The center’s management plan won the organization’s Policy Tools category.
The plan guides city staff, contractors and volunteers in the way to maintain the nature center and to enhance it by getting rid of invasive species and bringing back coastal grasses.
“We are going to remove the tallow trees,” volunteer Vaness Hamilton said.
Chinese tallow trees aren’t native to this area, but the trees have taken over vacant lots and choked out grasses that are native, she said.
“But it’s not just grass,” Hamilton said. It’s also the birds, deer, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes and river otters.
“Three-fourths of all bird species fly through here,” she said.
Hamilton, who is president of the city’s parks board, co-wrote the award-winning management plan. She’s also the daughter of Ned and Fay Dudney.
Among her friends, she calls the nature center “Mom and Dad’s park,” she said.
She wrote the plan with John Orsag, the city parks coordinator.
Jan Culbertson, a coastal biologist with The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Woody Woodrow, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided technical details to the plan, Orsag said.
Culbertson provided geographic information system maps and helped Hamilton and Orsag get started on the detailed, 52-page document, she said.
“I’m seriously proud of them,” Culbertson said.
The center can now go after grants and other funding with the solid plan in place, she said.
Ned and Fay Dudney were advocates for nature and were fond of the cranes that roamed the marshlands.
Ned Dudney, who died in 2010, tried to limit development in an area that the cranes frequented, The Daily News reported at the time.
“Those cranes represent a significant part of that quality of life here,” Dudney said in a 2008 city council meeting. ”It’s the biggest show Mother Nature puts on in this area.”
In 2010, the city renamed the Clear Creek Nature Park the Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Park to honor the couple’s commitment to nature.
Freezing weather in January ruined many plants at the nature center, including vegetation in a monarch butterfly way station, Orsag said. Ducks left after the center lost some submerged grasses after one of the freezing days, Hamilton said.
The nature center and other green spaces along the creeks and bayous can help with flooding, Hamilton said.
“It’s where the creek can swell and not cause damage,” she said.