Dysart’s urban forest preserve takes shape

Viola Irvine Nature Preserve opened to public last April

Harmon Bodeker, 6 – the reporter’s son – sits on a newly-poured concrete pad that will soon host a bench and resting area at Viola Irvine Nature Preserve in Dysart on Wednesday, Nov. 2. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Progress continues on Dysart’s Viola Irvine Nature Preserve – a thickly wooded, 2-acre parcel of land on the southeast side donated to the City last April by local conservationist Cathy Irvine – with new pathways, concrete pads, and tree plantings sprouting up recently.

While the planned winding path through the preserve – beginning just east of the address 310 Sherman Street and ending at Maple Street on the west side – was cleared this summer, it is still a work-in-progress that requires sturdy footwear and a bit of ducking in places.

But in just the last couple weeks, the planned concrete walkway meant to lead visitors from the Sherman Street trailhead through a stand of stately white pines to the main trail was recently poured along with a larger pad for a future bench and resting spot.

Cathy Irvine could not be more pleased with how the preserve has been shaping up.

“It was especially exciting [to see the progress] because the concrete contractor thought he couldn’t get to it until spring,” Irvine said. “Every new section [completed] has been a happy surprise.”

The Sherman Street entrance – now paved – to the Viola Irvine Nature Preserve located on Dysart’s southeast side. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Once the concrete walkway reaches the pad, further plans include placing wood chips along the rest of the trail and installing signage — unveiled at the preserve’s April dedication — at both the Sherman and Maple street entrances.

In addition to the trail work, several new trees were planted by Cathy Irvine on the property this summer to fill in gaps along the entrance easement.

More native woodland wildflower plantings were also installed – marked by colorful flags throughout the forest. The wildflower show sure to pepper the preserve this spring will be one not to miss.

For those in need of a walk in the woods, the Viola Irvine Nature Preserve is open to the public seven days a week. The new concrete walkway can be accessed from Sherman Street using the trail entrance located along the east border of 310 Sherman Street. Only street parking is available as both driveways on either side of the entrance are private.

Blue flags pepper the woods at the 2-acre Viola Irvine Nature Preserve in Dysart, marking where native woodland flowers were planted this past year. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER