History

          The history of the Friends of Bowie Nature Park begins with the Bowie family. In the 1950's what is now Bowie Nature Park was overworked, heavily gullied farmland losing 3 to 4 tons of topsoil yearly to erosion. With the help of her two sisters, Anna and Byrd, Dr. Evangeline Bowie assembled and transformed 722 acres of barren fields into bounteous wildlife habitat. Using new conservation concepts, she directed operations to fill the deep trenches with recycled material. She terraced and shaped the land to direct rain and create gravity-fed lakes. Dr. Bowie also supervised the cultivation of 500,000 pine seedlings. Setting out to be a commercial tree farmer, she came to cherish the maturing trees, her "children", and never harvested the forest she built. Advancing age and the deaths of Anna and Byrd left Van wondering what to do with her trees. After ruling out several options, in 1988 she deeded the land to the City of Fairview "as a wildlife preserve and/or park facility to be enjoyed by the general public." Within the year, the first paid parks director was hired by the City; in time additional staff was added. In 1991 the City, using grant money, developed a picnic area and restrooms near Lake Van.

           The Friends of Bowie Nature Park first met on September 24, 1994. The group performed their first service project: raking rocks from a small playground near the picnic area. To enrich the public's enjoyment of the Park, the Friends constructed the Twin Lakes picnic shelter, built innumerable trash can enclosures, cleared walking and horseback trails, and extended the bandstand stage area, plus repaired and extended its roof. Members also helped to build the Treehouse Playground and secured funding and labor for Fairview's first public art installation, "Three at the Park," large, climbable mosaic animal sculptures. The Friends also paid for color brochures of the Park, 36 directional trail signs and 8 large-scale trail maps for placement throughout the Park. The Friends host an annual holiday fireside concert in the Park's Nature Center and periodic guest speakers. Fundraising by the Friends has allowed the group to aid staff with programs for school children like summer camps and educational visits to the Park. Separate fundraising was earmarked for the creation of Bowie Museum which opened in the Nature Center in 2003 detailing the Park's history. Each year one or two temporary exhibits expand the public's understanding of other aspects of the Bowie story.

Bowie Nature Park...our CROWN JEWEL, forever.