Purpose: The Seymour Park Stream Mitigation Site was established in July 2007 as a result of the US 277 upgrade project near Seymour, Texas. The highway construction consisted of upgrading an existing 2-lane highway to a 4-lane, divided facility which bypassed the city of Seymour. The impacts to Seymour Creek and its tributaries were extensive, thus the Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT), through consultation with the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), proposed mitigating the impacts to these streams in the vicinity of Seymour. An alternatives analysis was performed and it was found that undertaking the rehabilitation of Seymour Creek within Seymour Park would not only replace a valuable resource disturbed elsewhere, but would re-establish the link in a divided ecosystem, create a valuable asset for public education and stimulate additional public involvement in an already well utilized city park.
The Plan & Execution: During initial planning phases three primary goals were paramount: to improve hydrologic conditions; to restore the native vegetation; and most importantly restore aquatic ecosystem functions. Assistance from PBS&J environmental consultants, USACE, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Lanco Turf and Seed Company were enlisted to achieve these goals. River morphology principals developed and published by Dave Rosgen along with software such as HEC-RAS were used in the restoration plan for Seymour Creek, thus greatly improving the hydraulic capacity and hydrologic conditions in the project area. With the assistance of Lanco Turf and Seed and PBS&J environmental consultants a planting plan was developed that incorporated the use of multiple native grasses, wildflowers, and over 100 trees and shrubs. An exceptional establishment was achieved during the first year with a density of approximately 84% herbaceous cover and a 100% survival of trees and shrubs. As a result of the success of the first two goals, the third and most important goal was far more successful than ever anticipated. Water quality and available habitat features have increased on a level such that both aquatic and upland wildlife have flourished in this newly reestablished corridor. Various species of mammals, turtles, snakes, fish and birds including shore-birds, predatory birds and other migratory species have returned to Seymour Park for foraging, loafing, and nesting. Since establishment of the new Seymour Park many uncommon species such as raccoon, mole, water moccasin, Mississippi kite, northern cardinal, scissor tailed flycatcher, great blue heron as well as various unidentified species of catfish, pan fish, and soft and hard shell turtles are observed on a daily basis. A great deal of wildlife has resumed migratory travel up and down the Seymour Creek. To further stimulate wildlife establishment within Seymour Park, multiple types of avian nesting boxes were constructed of recycled TDOT sign material and placed in the existing Mulberry trees bordering Seymour Creek. The community has continued to use the facility for various outdoor activities; however the usage has substantially increased as there are more wildlife viewing opportunities and improved aesthetics post construction. Many more residents are now utilizing the park for picnicking, fishing and even plant identification outings by local schools. So much interest has been generated in the plantings and wildlife viewing that TDOT has begun developing outdoor education amenities within the park setting. These signs are mounted on standard TDOT sign posts and constructed using a combination of new and recycled sign material.