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Gazebo Nature Preserve at Lake Livingston Dam to host two public events

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WaterBirdsWading and water birds love the warmer water coming from the Hydroelectric plant right next to the Gazebo Nature Preserve. Courtesy photo

The 2023 Christmas Bird Count and a Gazebo Guided Walk

From Enterprise Staff

Local birders and bird lovers are invited to join Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count at any time Saturday at the Gazebo Nature Preserve at Lake Livingston Dam next to Trinity River Authority off FM 1988. For serious bird watchers and Texas Master Naturalists, the 23-day Christmas Bird Count which runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 is already on the calendar. Members of Piney Wood Lakes Chapter Texas Master Naturalists (PWLCTMN) will be counting the seven regions within Polk County from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. the same day.

Those wanting to participate should contact Piney Wood Lake’s Christmas Bird Count Compiler Ann Turney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to sign up and get more information on how to enter their submissions for inclusion in the chapter’s submission to Audubon. Submission requirements include location, bird name, number seen and time of day.

The Christmas Bird Count is one of the world’s oldest and longest-running citizen science efforts. The count is organized into circles, and birders in each circle count as many birds as possible on one day, either on a predetermined route, or at their backyard bird feeder. Compiled data is used to learn about long-term bird trends and included in many reports and publications, such as the “State of the Birds Report” by Audubon Society.

Master Naturalists are restoring the native landscape along the Trinity River for birding and being present.

If you take a walk around the Gazebo Nature Preserve at Lake Livingston Dam just south of Trinity River Authority, you’ll need some imagination to see what is coming. Within a few years pine savannah with grasslands will be alive with wildlife, native pollinator areas aflutter with birds, bees and butterflies, and a thriving marsh area with native bulrushes creating a nurturing riparian zone. These areas and more are evolving on the 30-acre tract long-term project of Piney Wood Lakes Chapter Texas Master Naturalists.

During the planning of the R.C. Thomas Hydroelectric Project built by East Texas Electric Coop next to Lake Livingston Dam, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, a founding member of PWLCTMN, negotiated for the land used by the contractors for staging to be returned to the chapter to oversee the development of a nature preserve.

PWLCTMN received the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Lone Star Bird Award Conservation Grant of $5,000 at the conclusion of the 2022’s Great Texas Bird Classic. The application was submitted by one of the chapter’s newest interns to fund a class project, building a bird viewing tower overlooking the dam which should be completed in the new year.

Once the name of the preserve was finalized, a logo was designed by a PWLCTMN member and will soon appear on a large road sign just off FM 1988, flyers and online communication. A Gazebo Nature Preserve section is already live on the PWLCTMN website and Facebook and Instagram pages will be added soon.

Spring 2023 was ablaze with native wildflowers, year-round bird residents and a variety of surprising migrants. Throughout the Gazebo Nature Preserve field birds, bees, butterflies and moths can be seen feasting on seed and nectar provided by seasonal native wildflowers. Deer, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, birds, other mammals and rodents are regularly spotted either physically, on wildlife cameras, or by their tracks.

Visit the Gazebo Nature Preserve to take some laps on the quarter-mile pollinator loop, sit on a bench and meditate or just be present, bird-watch or volunteer. Come early or near dark. Visit the name-sake gazebo built by the developers. The gates open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. There is no water available, so bring your own and be mindful of the weather. For more information about Gazebo Nature Preserve @ Lake Livingston Dam, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit PWLCTMN online at txmn.org/pineywoodlakes.

The second event this month at the Gazebo Nature Preserve is an opportunity to get your steps in after Christmas on Dec. 29. Why wait for Jan. 1 to start your News Year’s resolution for better health? Join the Piney Wood Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist at the Gazebo Nature Preserve, to get a jump start on a healthier New Year. A Gazebo Guided Walk is slated for 10-11 a.m. Dec. 29 at the Gazebo Nature Preserve at Lake Livingston Dam which is located at Recreation Rd. 5 off FM 1988 next to Trinity River Authority.

For both events, bring water, binoculars and cameras and experience an evolving multi-ecosystem preserve right here in Polk County.


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