Senator Frank L. Madla Natural Area
The Senator Frank L. Madla Natural Area is named for the late senator whose family is a long time resident of the Scenic Loop area. Often referred to as “Madla Park”, this beautiful natural area is owned by the City of Grey Forest. It is appropriate that the City of Grey Forest developed Madla Park. Originally known as the Scenic Loop Playground, the City of Grey Forest was started as a rural retreat with its emphasis on natural resources and man’s relationship to nature. The community is sensitive to supporting green spaces. The Madla Park entrance is located on Menchaca Road off of Scenic Loop Road.
The park overlooks the Madla farm where the late-Senator Madla was raised. Madla Park was designed with hiking and jogging trails that highlight the native Texas Hill Country environment as well as fauna, flora, geology, and history of the area. Additionally, active management of the wildlife habitat is undertaken to preserve the wildlife located in the Natural Area for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The centerpiece of the Natural Area is a pavilion located at the trailhead for the enjoyment of visitors to the park and serves as a meeting sight for educational programs.
Like the surrounding lands, this the park site has a rich history with structures that date to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The Park site was settled in 1852 by John Conrad Beckmann and his wife, Regina who both arrived in America in 1841. John was a wrought-iron craftsman by trade and had a homestead in San Antonio, Texas near the Alamo. The park site was purchased by John for his wife whom had grown homesick for her native lands of Switzerland. The property was purchased as a weekend retreat for Regina and would in time include a Swiss chalet style cabin. In 1853, the farm was the site of an Indian raid that would result in the deaths of the farm’s caretaker and his family. This picture is of one structure on the park site taken in 1906 and includes Mr. John Beckmann on the far right.
The creation of Madla Park started in 2009. The Texas State Legislature established a grant to honor the late Senator Frank L. Madla for his long and dedicated service to the community and the state. The City of Grey Forest submitted a proposal that was subsequently awarded. The project started with the purchase of 42 acres at the corner of Scenic Loop and Menchaca through the grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and conservation easement funds from the City of San Antonio. Madla Park was developed over the next three years and was opened to the public on March 9, 2013. The park development and maintenance is overseen by a City appointed park board.
Working with the park board, the Senator Frank Madla, Jr. Park Conservancy was established. Donations to maintain the park are gratefully accepted. Various events and fundraisers are conducted each year. Go to Madla Park for more information.