Published August 14 2013
Forum editorial: Nature park right for the RedThe potential addition of about 100 acres to the Fargo Park District for a conservancy park continues a trend in the metro that is visionary and practical. The latest proposal, which has been evolving for a few years, would take three former housing tracts in Red River oxbows south of Fargo and return them to their natural state. The areas are mostly land that has reverted to public domain after buyouts and removal of homes that were on the flood-prone acreage. Few homes still remain on lots in the former Orchard Glen, Forest River and Heritage Hills neighborhoods.
It’s a great idea. It comports nicely with previous efforts in Fargo and Moorhead to restore to as pristine as possible the riverine environment in an urban setting. The new proposal is the largest local restoration effort along the corridor of the meandering Red.
If it happens as envisioned by park planners and others, the conservancy park will accomplish worthy goals:
• First, at risk structures will be removed, thus allowing the river to do what it frequently does. The Red’s close-in floodplain is supposed to flood. A conservancy park will not be harmed by high water, and also will respect the river’s natural flooding cycles. No need for levees, sandbags or the stress of protecting buildings that should not be there in the first place.
• Second, the educational component of a riverside conservancy park can be invaluable to students, researchers and even casual observers of the river and its immediate environs. At least one other conservancy park, the nine-acre Lions Park near Rose Creek off South University Drive, is a fascinating all-seasons outdoor classroom. The additional 100 acres in three discreet parcels in river bends can be a unique educational treasure for the city and region.
• Finally, Fargo Park Board members and managers of the district recognize that a comprehensive park system is more than ball fields, golf courses, campgrounds and elaborate playgrounds. Fargo parklands, game fields and indoor venues comprise one of the best park systems in the nation because of the diversity of activities (or opportunities for non-activity) that constructed facilities or grand open spaces offer park patrons. It is that vast and accessible variety of high quality park experiences that is foundational to the system’s long-term success.
A new 100-acre conservancy park along the historic Red River fits perfectly with that tradition.
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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.