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The other day at Bedford Boys Ranch Lake, a jogger was momentarily distracted by a dead duck floating on the surface nearby.

“That’s pond life,” the jogger joked, motoring past.

But is it? Over the past nine months, more small native animals than anyone would care to count have been croaking in and around the 274,000-square-foot recreational facility in south North Bedford. The problem, according to some residents, is that by trying to help improve the quality of the water and environment the City of Bedford has only hurt the local fauna. City officials counter that every precaution has been taken to ensure the safety of the animals. No matter who’s right, one thing is for certain: Small animals keep dying in and around Bedford Boys Ranch Lake.

Bedford resident Terri Robb first noticed changes at her favorite spot last July. That was when the lake was drained and then dredged as part of a $3.2 million city bond package passed in 2013. The aim was to improve the lake’s channels and surrounding trails and upgrade recreational facilities at the 62-acre Boys Ranch Park, where the lake is located.

She didn’t pay much attention at first. The construction project was well known to area residents, and she assumed city officials had plans for the lake’s wildlife: Muscovy ducks, waterfowl, turtles, migrating geese, and, occasionally, coyotes.

But as the water receded and eventually disappeared altogether over the course of a few months, hundreds of stranded animals made it apparent that help may not be coming.

Alarmed, Robb and other residents and lake visitors purchased small plastic swimming tubs and filled them with water in an attempt to save the ducks that had called the area home for years.

Scenes like this have inspired some residents to pitch in. Photo by Kayla Stigall.

You might think the residents were overreacting. Birds can just fly away, right? But they weren’t, and the turtles had fewer options.

While Robb and several volunteers kept the tubs full and bought cracked corn to feed the waterfowl, city employees and contractors continued work on the project, with most of the construction ending last month.

Bedford Mayor Jim Griffin, in an e-mail to the Fort Worth Weekly, said the recent construction in and around the lake is part of a series of projects that are leading to “tremendous economic growth” for Bedford. Griffin rebuffs Robb’s accusations, saying that he and his staff took adequate steps to protect wildlife in the area.

“The city staff worked under the direction and advisement of [the] Texas Parks & Wildlife [Department] during the construction process of the lake,” he said. “Several measures were taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the wildlife.”

Those steps, he said, included relocating fish prior to draining, relocating turtles after the lake was drained, and providing clean water to waterfowl on a daily basis.

“The majority of feedback that has been received by city council and city staff has been overwhelmingly positive,” he added.

Robb said she never witnessed any ducks being relocated. If there were turtles moved, she added, the city missed most of them.

Recently, a pristine two-foot-high brick embankment was laid around the lake’s perimeter. With the help of heavy rainfall, the large dredged hole soon filled.

But the animals continued dying.

Robb and several residents who spoke with the Fort Worth Weekly said they witnessed turtles and baby ducklings that were unable to scale the new embankments. Seeing animal carcasses became a regular sight, several residents said.

The one 2-by-4-foot ramp included in the city’s plans which was built has not been able to ameliorate the problem, Robb said. The embankments also created problems for the coyotes and foxes that use the lake as source of drinking water, Robb added.

Earlier this month, city officials responded by constructing three rock ramps around the lake. The large stone slabs dip into the water at 45-degree angles.

While many area residents welcome the measure, it does nothing to solve the problem of food.

“There is zero [naturally occurring] food in that lake,” Robb said. The city “took the ecosystem down to ground zero.”

To raise public awareness, Robb recently started an online petition, asking the mayor and city officials to provide wildlife in and around the lake with floating islands, shelter, and food. The online appeal is 123 signatures away from its goal of 1,500. At that point, Robb said, the petition will be delivered to Mayor Griffin, City Manager Roger Gibson, and Assistant City Manager Kelli Agan.

On a recent weekend morning at the lake, Robb and four area residents –– Paula Botero, Barbara Hughes, Helen Martin, and Joyce Powell –– were feeding turtles and ducks while keeping an eye out for sick, injured, or dead animals. The routine has become a daily ordeal for the friends, who first met at the lake last summer when the crisis began. Feeding the animals is expensive, the friends said. They estimate they have each spent several hundred dollars out of pocket so far. The friends also keep an eye out for young children, who might fall off the embankments and into the murky lake water.

“We’re not wanting to pick a fight” with the city, Robb said, “but something has to be done. This has been a sloppy, hideous process.”

This article was updated on May 3 to correct the location of the park.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Pictures speak a thousand words and the Mayor’s quote in the Fort Worth Star Telegram also paints a grim picture for things to come for the wildlife and the residents of Bedford, Texas. “…it is a park, not a wildlife refuge.” Nobody heard those words when he was pushing to pass the $3.2M bond that did in fact destroy a refuge.

    noun: refuge

    a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
    “he was forced to take refuge in the French embassy”

    •something providing shelter.
    plural noun: refuges

    “the family came to be seen as a refuge from a harsh world”

    The harsh world for the animals was something the Mayor of Bedford purposely set out to do. He has degraded our city. What was indeed a sanctuary has been turned into a waste of taxpayer dollars. It is a sad place to be thanks to a mayor that is falling way short of the mark for the taxpayers and animals alike.

  2. I’m almost certain that there’s not many tea-bagging Peckerwoods working on the problem out there in beautiful, downtown Useless””are they?

  3. This is all very interesting but unfortunately, mostly false information generated by a group of citizens who seek to create a wildlife refuge in the middle of the Bedford Boys Ranch. I am not a city employee but do volunteer in various projects in Bedford. I have walked the lake area for years on a daily basis and have yet to see the many dead animals which are mentioned here, except for an occasional duck or bird that is a natural prey for owls, hawks, cats or coyotes.

    I participated in the removal and relocation of fish and turtles to fresh water sources, and any relocation of ducks was discouraged by the Texas Game and Fish Commission due to their diseased condition which was caused by over-population and over-feeding. The game fish were removed by the State Commission and relocated to Lake Worth.

    Unfortunately once the lake was drained certain people decided to water and feed the remaining ducks in order to keep them in the local area, instead of allowing them to leave and migrate to areas with adequate food and water, which is the normal process. Feeding wild ducks and birds only encourages them to become more tame and dependent on humans for their existence which is not good. As for the foxes and coyotes not being able to get a drink of water…..ridiculous! Also, the constant dumping of animal and duck food into the lake has become an enormous pollution issue for the wildlife.

    Located just above the new lake are two new ponds which drain into the lake, and above the two small ponds is a large pond ( small lake ) which has always been accessible to the various birds and wildlife near the new and larger lake. Indeed, when the lake was drained many of the ducks simply relocated to the large pond which is about 100 yards north. Interesting that ducks, geese and other wildlife are not so stupid that they cannot search for and find healthy habitats for themselves as they have for millions of years.

    It is the hope for the Bedford Boys Ranch Lake, under advisement of the Texas Game and Fish Commission, and after consulting with area veterinarians, that they might be able to create a natural habitat for the birds and wildlife…by not feeding them, thus allowing them to come and go as wildlife will.

    • I have been a Bedford resident since 1981. The pond was a wildlife refuge before the city destroyed it. What makes you side with the city in deciding it shouldn’t continue to be a wildlife refuge? This is not what the residents of Bedford wanted. Some residents don’t just consider it a “sports complex” and enjoyed the serinity of sitting and enjoying nature by the pond. That is no longer possible. Or maybe you’re too busy to stop, sit and enjoy the beauty of nature. Go take another look and really notice what is going on there. Maybe you just don’t like ducks like the majority of people. Such a shame to see the current conditions and shame on you for condeming people trying to save the wildlife.

      • Buckee is a board member of the Beautification Committee.

        Since we are on the theme of Bedford and why it stinks there. And let me tell you.. it’s not the dead fish anymore. Bedford stinks because of incompetence of some senior staff, the corruption of elected officials and a few other reasons.

        After they fired.. FIRED (she did not retire) the previous city manager and put new management in place things have been taking a turn towards the worse. The deputy city manager left.. The director of Community Services was fired shortly after that … Then they fired the Director of Public Works… Then they fired the Fire Chief… but they all “retired”.

        Bedford stinks because of that. Since this is politics the new people in power just swept the house clean, placed their favorites in good positions regardless of knowledge and got rid of the people that they thought could pose a threat to them. The ex-Fire Chief was in front of the library during Early Election and was vehemently supporting the new contender for Place 5. And he knew a lot of dirty things about the people running the city… He “retired” all of a sudden. CLEARLY this was a coupe d’etat

        Who are the people running the city? what are their credentials? Why was Rodger Gibson selected over a big list of candidates with master degrees and Ph.D’s in political science? The city paid $35.000 to an outside company to look for the best candidate. That money was thrown out of the window when they decided to hire the iterin city manager as the cull time City Manager.. at around $175.000 a year.. plus amazing benefits.. $175.000 A YEAR.

        Who is Ms. Kelli Agan? He brought her over from the P.D. department as his right hand.. but does she really have the qualifications to be in that position? Who knows what other positions she assumed for him Also after they got rid of the old management they gave themselves some fat raises, a pat on the back and then some more raises. It is absurd and ridiculous how much money these people make. I would of never though you can be rich by being a government employee. Bedford can find someone more knowledgeable for less money..

        And there are plenty complains from citizens why Bedford is a bust.. from the death of the wildlife to the kill policy of their Animal Shelter, the unfriendly stance towards small businesses to the issues with code compliance. At every Business Roundtable the City just tuts their own horn and how great they are. Granted without the few corporate citizen, Bedford would be in even worst shape. Thank WalMart on Glade that brings in the sales tax dollars.

        Also all the residential development going on in Bedford is UGLY. Every empty land is filled with big ugly houses with no back yard. They are not pleasing to the eye. Euless is doing a much better job at redeveloping than Bedford.

        Bedford deserves better.
        If I were a newspaper or journalist I would have a field day writing about what is going inside the City of Bedford and see how much of a waste to taxpayers this small local government truly is.

        The ducks and the park is just a smoke screen. There are serious issued going on in that City.

        While the mayor and council are not paid for their service the people reporting directly to them are. And they were placed there by the Mayor and his troupe of clowns.

    • Fish, sloping sides & island- all removed. Water plants not yet regrown. How is that a healthy environment for any of the animals that used to live there? I run in the park early, before they pick up the bodies. Just because you haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t dying.

    • I don’t understand how you have not seen a dead duck there as more often than not when I walk the lake (which is several times a week) there is a dead animal floating in the water. The other day a city park employee was standing over the dead duck waiting for another to help net it out. When I said to him that a lot of people aren’t happy about what is going on at the lake now he laughingly said ‘Well, that isn’t good’. NO it isn’t.

  4. The Bedford Mayor said a couple of years ago at a roundtable that animal welfare is not a PRIORITY for Bedford. He and his buddy council members don’t care about what the community wants. They do as they please. If you serve on a board or commission and don’t kiss up to them and agree with them…they will purge you off the board or commission. They are corrupt and it’s sad to see that Mr. Greer is drinking their koolaid. PEASE FOLKS..vote these people OUT.

  5. “Wildlife refuge” were words used first by the mayor, not the citizens. The people who are concerned about this situation just want a normal park where ducks and turtles can live and be viewed by the people who appreciate them. The poor design of the lake has threatened that environment.

  6. Peckerwoods are going to be Peckerwoods…Baggers are going to be Baggers… there’s nothing new to see here. May I enquire how many of these hero public servants are hammer-head Republicans?

    • Benny you dumb SOB. First you condemn them as Peckerwoods and Baggers — your terms for Republicans — then you ask if they are Republicans. What a fricking idiot.

      • What’s wrong with you Bobby? Why are you so ugly and hateful? Your gas-drilling racket not as hot as it used to be… poor baby. As you know, even the half-wit Baggers in town hate you gas-drilling rats. Prisoners in our city, county, and state jail-houses all despise rat gas-drillers. You need not be smart, nor honorable, nor liberal, nor have breath that doesn’t stink like booze or crack-cocaine to despise anti-social, gas-drilling fruit-loops. You know all this, why the smoke-screen? You been Baptized? Why do you hate America? You going to your meetings? Why do you stay in that sordid, gas-drilling hustle anyway? You’re not once again debauched by that wacky-tobaccy…are you? Well, any how, I got you on my Prayer list. I forgot to ask….you any kin to that gas-drilling jillionaire that drove his car into a cement wall at 90 miles per hour last week, rather than face the music over his crimes, lies, and hateful frauds? Do you wonder how his family feels? Think the money was worth it? Think Jesus likes rat, greed-head, lying, gas-drillers? Cat got your tongue? Why you so cranky….nothing, absolutely nothing happens by mistake Bobby. Why you got your panties in a wad???

      • You’re cussing as much as your Mama does Bobby, bless your heart. Your little feelings hurt? Bless your heart, poor baby.

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