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City opens 58-acre Dallas W. Fanning Nature Preserve

Published on July 1, 2020

Photo of Fanning Family and Mayor Battle cutting the ribbon at the new park.

The City of Huntsville opened its newest nature preserve on 58 acres of land off Martin Road West. Named in honor of the late Dallas W. Fanning, former director of urban development and architect of the City’s western expansion, the park will provide residents in the westernmost part of the City with outdoor trails for exercise, passive recreation, star-gazing and nature hikes.

“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Dallas Fanning than this preserve,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “Dallas was the catalyst for Huntsville’s western expansion. His vision brought industry and thousands of jobs and new residents to the western corridor. He would have wanted these residents to have places to play and this park would please him greatly.”

The nature preserve provides several miles of signed trails through the woods and a two-acre green space dotted with shade trees and benches. There is a gravel parking lot at the park entrance, but no lighting – an intentional decision.

“This parcel includes woodlands and wetlands,” said John Hamilton, City Administrator. “In developing the park, we worked to enhance and preserve the environment and provide residents with a sanctuary space to connect with nature. By eliminating lighting, we protect wildlife habitats and provide an excellent location for star-gazing.”

Fanning Preserve Trail Map

The City performed all the work in house to refurbish the land, plant 400 new trees, and create the trails. Huntsville’s Public Works and Landscape Management crews did the heavy lifting – a labor of love for both departments.

“Everyone was excited about the project because it involved respecting the land and creative thinking,” said Joy McKee, Director of Landscape Management. “One of our supervisors, Steve Fowler, helped design the trails and provided all the carpentry for the benches and signage. He and his enthusiastic crew of workers have taken great pride in bringing this amenity to the public.”

Landscape Management Supervisor Steve Fowler looks at a sign naming a trail in his honor

Landscape Management Supervisor Steve Fowler is recognized for his work on the nature preserve by having the main trail named in his honor.

The Dallas W. Fanning Nature Preserve is located at 258 Old Jim Williams Road SW, Huntsville, AL 35824.