Researchers work toward preserving natural history at Lubbock Lake Landmark

Lubbock Lake Landmark not only preserves the natural heritage of the land but also provides leadership through stewardship by volunteering, research, and education.

Scott Trevey, historic maintenance supervisor at Lubbock Lake Landmark, works on preserving the prairie and trying to keep the land the way it would have been years ago.

Trevey explained that Texas Tech University took over maintaining all 335 acres and that Dr. Eileen Johnson, director of Lubbock Lake Landmark, had a goal to get the land back to what they felt it looked like before European settlers came to the area.

IMG_1326Dr. Johnson wanted to achieve that goal without affecting or damaging the cultural resources, Trevey said.

“The strategic master plan, I was estimating five-to-seven years,” Trevey said, talking about how long they wanted to take to restore the land.

Trevey says that the prairie is not an exact representation of what the land was because of some non-native invasive species.

“To totally eradicate that, it would take an army of people out here every year, pulling or doing some type of manual control…,” he said. “All we can do today is simply try to manage it.”

He also mentioned that they would really like to know more about controlling brush, “particularly honey mesquite.”

Wild fires was a natural way to keep brush, such as honey mesquite, down, Trevey explained.

He said that the month of May is one of his favorite months at Lubbock Lake Landmark because of all the new blooms which are appearing.

“Some years, with rainfall and the timing of those rainfall events, we have more of an abundance of a certain plant,” said Trevey.

Deborah Bigness, manager of site operations for Lubbock Lake Landmark, said that preserving the prairie encourages wildlife, such as mule deer, raccoons, coyotes, and rabbits, to come and provides them with a home and protection.IMG_1272

“There are not a lot of places around here where you can see what it would have looked like,” Bigness said. “The entire great plains of America would have looked something like this in its natural state.”

Bigness explained that Lubbock Lake Landmark is very educational.

“We have a trail that identifies native trees, grasses, and flowers in the landscape and tells you about them,” she said.

It also is a resource for classroom instruction and research projects, along with informal learning, for area students and residents.

“There are classes from Tech (and other schools) who will come out here and do research projects,” mentioned Bigness.

The archeology that is on Lubbock Lake Landmark was discovered accidentally in 1936.

“People from the museum at Tech have been involved on and off since then,” Bigness said. “This summer, when we open up and start excavating, that will be 83 years since archeology was discovered.

Bigness stated that people have been coming to that particular spot for at least 12,000 years because there was always water there. The availability of water attracted the animals, which in turn attracted the people, because they were big game hunters and followed the herds. The water also helped process the meat, which played a part in humans living there.

“We think this was a large hunting ground, basically,” Bigness said. “They would come here, live here periodically at various seasons of the year.”

Lubbock Lake Landmark also offers several educational classes open to both children and adults.

“We do classes during spring break and the first seven weeks of summer in June and July,” said Bigness, “and then we do other programs during the year.”

Bigness mentioned one program offered once a quarter called Sensory Saturday. It is aimed at children who learn differently. They also have a program for 3 and 4 year olds called Growing Up Wild.

Lubbock Lake Landmark also holds night hikes, called Landmark After Dark Night Hike, every month on the fourth Saturday between March and September. The hike starts 30 minutes before sunset, which means the time of the event changes from month to month..

“The wildlife is a lot more active at that time,…” Bigness said.  “By the time you get back, it’s dark. So there’s great star gazing.”

They also offer Digital Literacy for older adults to help them learn how to use smart phones, social media, and photography.

Lubbock Lake Landmark also has indoor exhibits which they change yearly. In the last room, they have an Ice Age exhibit which has been up since before Christmas, and is expected to remain in place through October of 2020.

Part of the reason they are leaving the Ice Age exhibit up longer is because it goes with their four lifesize animal sculptures outside.

“They are all animals that we know lived here at this place during the ice age,” said Bigness, adding that the sculptures were made using measurements of bones that have been excavated on the site.

IMG_1294Lubbock Lake Landmark also has a lot of volunteer opportunities during the summer, such as helping in the lab where they catalog archeological material, helping to clean, weigh and identify material, and more.

“A lot of our excavation work is done by volunteers,” Bigness said, adding that it is a well known archeological site that attracts researchers from all over the world to dig there.

Some volunteers help with the night hike, while others like helping with the programs.

“If someone wants to volunteer out here, it just kind of depends on what we need and also what the person is interested in,” said Bigness.

Lubbock Lake Landmark preserves the wildlife and provides fourandahalf miles of different trails for bikers, hikers, and leashed pets, with several outlook spots for visitors to enjoy.

Lubbock Lake Landmark is free of charge, and their hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Sundays, which are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 2401 Landmark Drive, off of Loop 289.