The Stepping Stone: Texas Native Restoration Area

This community and volunteer driven project began in the Fall of 2021 as a way to reclaim parkland as a native environment for both flora and fauna. The Stepping Stone Texas Native Restoration Area lends itself to be an educational space where park patrons can experience an original Texas landscape as original settlers would have experienced, learn about the benefits of native plants and experience native in a hands on way. This is a long-term and ongoing project; as time goes on, the environment will change and develop. 

In this stepping stone, trees are planted in abundance and close together, interspersing plants and shrubs to recreate a natural, native landscape. Once established this area will require minimal care and upkeep, and will become a "no mow" and zero pesticide area. 

yard signs-stepping stone

Areas of native habitat are divided in to "patches", "corridors" and "stepping stones". These areas foster greater diversity by providing habitats for aerial creatures such as birds, bats and butterflies, arboreal animals such as squirrels, snakes and snails, and terrestrial animals like frogs, lizards, possums and more. Within the "matrix" or the world around us, these elements provide safe spaces for animals of all kinds to move around, live, feed and reproduce. 

yard signs-stepping stone
Due to the delicate nature of The Stepping Stone: Texas Native Restoration Area, the City of Elgin Parks & Recreation asks that patrons follow these rules and guidelines. These guidelines are in place to both protect our patrons from potentially harmful plants such as those with thorns, as well as protect new seedlings and wildlife from being damaged. 

The term "stepping stone" refers to it's ecological standing, however there are physical stepping stones participants can walk on. Use these stepping stones at your own risk. These are natural tree stumps laid on the dirt meaning they are decomposing and providing necessary nutrients to the ground. Stepping stones are uneven, wobbly, soft and slippery. Use caution if you choose to walk on the stepping stones. 

If you sit on the bench, please stay within the mulched area to avoid disturbing the local flora and fauna. 
yard signs-native flowers
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April 2022 Update:

Spring has sprung and our plants throughout the gardens are blooming! Volunteers from Elgin HS Key Club and National Honor Society spent Earth Day volunteering in the garden pulling out invasive weeds and replacing them with native pollinator plants. Debora Marzec spent time watering, planting seeds and transplanting more natives. 

New signs are up in the garden and help inform the public on the importance of native plants, who our pollinators are and the guidelines for entering the native area. Remember! We recommend only entering the mulched area as the rest of the area is home to native Texas plants and animals. 

March 2022 Update: 

Volunteers Debora Marzec, Cub Scout Troop 471, and Ranch House Recovery planted additional natives, inserted a live edge pecan wood bench donated by Kraft's Log Works, spread native seeds, and added bird baths to the garden. The pecan wood bench donated by John Kraft will act as our seating area for the garden; patrons are invited to sit and watch the native flora and fauna.

New signs have been ordered and will provide additional information on the Native Stepping Stone Garden.

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Due to the wild nature of this area, patrons enter the fenced area at their own risk. Patrons are asked to avoid stepping on the ground as Texas Native seeds have been spread throughout the garden in an effort to revitalize the area.

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February 2022 Update: 

Staff and volunteers started propagating native seeds in trays to transplant in the spring, added more leaves as well as mulch and added more logs for animal habitats. 

Weather impacts the development of gardens, and the extreme weather in February meant there was little development during this time.

Due to the wild nature of this area, patrons enter the fenced area at their own risk. Patrons are asked to avoid stepping on the ground as Texas Native seeds have been spread throughout the garden in an effort to revitalize the area. 

January 2022 Update:

Ranch House Recovery's work day helped Parks & Recreation Center Staff install new tree stumps donated by local Elginites to create a set of wooden stepping stones through the area. This wood will act as literal stepping stones through the garden as they decompose, helping the soil become more nutritious. As they decompose, check out the interesting fungus!

Due to the wild nature of this area, patrons enter the fenced area at their own risk. Patrons are asked to avoid stepping on the ground as Texas Native seeds have been spread throughout the garden in an effort to revitalize the area. 

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leave the leaves sign

December 2021 Update: 

As the weather gets colder, it's important that we leave our gardens to be wild and leave the leaves and dead plants until Spring. Many animals hibernate in the dead leaves and plants during our cold weather months and then re-emerge in the Spring when the weather warms up. The Recreation Center is leaving gardens "untidy" and bringing in leaves for animals to nest in. Check out the signs in our parks for more information!

Due to the wild nature of this area, we ask that patrons do not enter the area surrounded by cedar borders. 

November 2021 Update:

During the third annual Texas Arbor Day, volunteers worked together to create "The Stepping Stone". This is the second stepping stone garden created to help foster biodiversity in Elgin Memorial Park, the first being the Elgin Recreation Center Pollinator Gardens. The intention of "The Stepping Stone" is to re-wild an area of the park, creating a space for animals big and small to nest, hunt and grow. A wide variety of trees of all sizes were added to this area to create a thicket, and maintenance will not mow in this area allowing for native seeds to grow and reseed annually. Due to the wild nature of this area, we ask that patrons do not enter the area surrounded by cedar borders. 

The following trees were planted as a part of Texas Arbor Day 2021:
  • 2 Burr Oaks
  • 3 Anacua / Sandpaper Trees
  • 1 Retama
  • 1 Button Bush
  • 3 Sierra Madre Torchwoods
  • 1 Mexican Sycamore
  • 1 Native Redbud
  • 2 Mexican Buckeyes
  • 1 Texas Ebony
  • 1 Montezuma Cypress
  • 1 Arroyo
  • 2 Carolina Buckthorns
  • 1 Shumard Oak
  • 5 Native Willows
  • 1 Catclaw Acacia
  • 1 Ash
  • 1 White Oak
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