On Saturday, a tad more than 1,400 people are expected to turn out to clean up their local green space for Dallas' It's My Park Day. The city launched the annual event last year as a way to give neighbors a sense of ownership of their parks and, one assumes, to squeeze a little bit of free labor out of the citizenry.
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Also scheduled to turn out are environmental activists, who plan to use the gathering to remind folks that the city is at this moment consider whether its fracking rules should allow natural gas drilling on parkland and in floodplains. The City Council will decide on those rules any day now, and the gas drilling task force appointed to study the issue recommended allow drilling on some parkland, but not if it's used as a public park or playground.
That's more split-the-baby compromise than outright prohibition, which is what the environmentalists were hoping for.
"It just seems incompatible with having cleanups in parks and all that sort of thing to be allowing something that puts dirty things in the air," said Claudia Meyer, a member of Dallas Residents at Risk helping organize the protest, which they've dubbed Don't Frack My Park Day.
To underline their opposition, Meyer and fellow activists will be accompanied by a 15-foot-tall mock fracking rig that they will plant on Winfrey Point. It's a sort of a Ghost of Christmas Future meant to remind people of what could happen if fracking is allowed on parkland.
"We want to give Dallas residents some idea of what it means to have your local park turned into an industrial zone," Meyer said.
By late morning, the fracking rig will be taken down and reassembled at Valley View Park, where the city is hosting a reception for volunteers. And, just as scantily clad women are the weapon of choice for PETA, Meyer promises the rig will become a fixture at local anti-fracking protests.