southwest of 27th Street & Crossgate Drive
John McGrew, owner of Wakarusa Land Limited Company, donated over 42 acres of the 80 acres he owned south of 27th St at Crossgate Dr.to develop this nature area in December 2000, preserving additional open space on the south side of the City.
The South Lawrence Trafficway walking and bicycling trail follows the north side of 27th St. connecting the future site of Green Meadows Park to the east and trail further west to the Clinton Lake area.
Mr. McGrew requested naming the park in honor of Pat Dawson-Billings, who was a teacher in the Lawrence School District from 1960-1975. Originally from Emporia, Dawson-Billings graduated of the University of Kansas, School of Education in 1960. Prior to graduation, she married Bob Billings, founder of Alvamar Development in 1959. Pat Dawson Billings was an energetic teacher who was also a kind and caring human being. She enjoyed the outdoors and recognized that nature is its own classroom.
A First Cast ceremony was held in April 2006 to officially open the ponds for public fishing.
Description of Park
Described as a “prairie oasis,” the Pat Dawson Billings Nature Area, is a floodplain area. This nature preserve contains several large ponds. The north pond is over 25 ft. in depth. The south pond, approximately 20 feet deep, was completed in 2002. A third pond is located in the southwest portion of the park. The ponds will be managed in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, which will continue to stock the ponds with fish for public fishing.
Native grass such as Big Bluestem, Indian grass, and Western Wheat grass and wildflowers such as Maximillian Sunflower, Blackeyed Susan and Purple Prairie Clover have been planted around the ponds and can be found throughout the nature area.
Water fowls can be seen hovering over the ponds in warmer weather and Eagles have been known to frequent the pond area as well. With such an assortment of wildlife species, the nature area is a great location for outdoor education.
A city developed drainage way has been completed in 2002 east of this property and provides continuous city owned open space to the future Green Meadows Park to the east. A-15 acre greenbelt area joins this property northwest of 27th and Crossgate to connect to Southwest Junior High and Sunflower Elementary Schools.
The amenities of the park include:
- Fishing Ponds
There are no shelters located in Pat Dawson Billings Nature Area.
Reservations for outdoor shelters and indoor facilities are taken at any of the community recreation centers including the Community Building, 115 West 11th St.; East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 East 15th St.; Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 West 27th St.; Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, 4706 Overland Drive and South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Massachusetts St.
See our shelter rentals page for more information on renting these facilities or call (785)832-7920.