Why does Hardberger Park have a Park Naturalist?
Hardberger Park is in the demographic heart of the city and is surrounded by development. This urban setting has presented many challenges to the ecological “health” of the park. Many people in the neighboring communities install landscape plants that are exotic and can escape cultivation and form self-propagating populations within the park. These plants compete with and will eventually exclude good, native plants. Also, this urban setting presents challenges for wildlife. In 2012, two black vultures, one crested caracara (Mexican eagle), a baby cotton-tail rabbit, and a cotton-tail rabbit family in the dog park were all rescued and either taken to a rehabilitation facility or relocated to a safer area. It is the Park Naturalist job to make sure that native plant communities are maintained and not compromised by exotic invasive plants and that any wildlife issues are dealt with in a timely, humane manner.