ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Just beyond Tittle Lake in Grover Nelson Park lies Middle and North Lakes – both completely dry. But the area has the capability to look completely different in the coming years.

These lakes could look a little something like this:

The Abilene Zoo said it will apply for a federal grant for the first time. The America the Beautiful grant would potentially restore the dry area, turning the dry lakes into natural grasslands and wetlands.

“We’ve been looking for ways to restore habitats around the zoo,” said Clary Carabajal, Supervisor of Conservation at the Abilene Zoo. He said the master plan has made them grow, now having the ability to do apply for this sort of grant. 

“If this master plan has shown us anything, it’s shown us that this zoo has the potential to be the best in Texas,” Carabajal said.

Development Manager of the zoo, Denae Duesler, spoke up to the Parks and Recreation Board to give her ideas and suggestions about what they would do if they got this money. 

“The area of land that we are talking about is the Middle and North Lake, all in the Grover Nelson Park,” stated Duesler. 

Developers would combine these two lakes, and restore the natural grasslands nearby – if all goes according to plan. 

“Also put in some additional native animals, that we hope would include bison,” Duesler suggested to the board.

Another proposition was a board walk around the bison area, as well as a trail around the lake.

Elizabeth Brooks, an Abilenian, told KTAB/KRBC the development of North and Middle Lakes would be an amazing opportunity for educating children, as she homeschools her two little ones – often taking them to the zoo to learn. 

“Especially as military, because we’re always looking for stuff to do,” Brooks said. 

Since Dyess is partnering with the Abilene Zoo, the zoo said it aims to make more recreational opportunities for military families. 

Carabajal said the grant was highly competitive, and they are mainly excited they are now able to apply for things like this. 

“Because we have grown, because of the community support, we have come to a position where we can dream bigger,” said Carabajal. 

The Abilene Zoo said it will apply for this America the Beautiful grant Thursday, July 21. The committee said it expects to hear an answer in November.

With the grant, the massive project would be fully funded, at an estimated $1.5 million.