Celebrate 50 Years of Wild Wonders at the Fort Worth Nature Center

By Mark Brownstein, 12:52 am on

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

You may not be alone when you explore some of the 3,200+ acres of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Wildlife Refuge. In fact, your roaming companions may be buffalo. For more than 40 of its 50 years in existence, the Center has managed a bison herd. It now includes a near-white buffalo, which is considered sacred to Native American cultures. The herd can be seen at the Center’s east pasture.

Since 1964, the land that the Fort Worth Park-Recreation board originally designated as Greer Island has been captivating enthusiasts of all ages who enjoy unspoiled glimpses of nature. The Fort Worth Nature Center & Wildlife Refuge is one of the nation’s largest city-owned nature centers and has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service (US Department of the Interior).

A hidden wilderness located in northwest Fort Worth near the shores of Lake Worth and the West Fork of the Trinity River, the Center & Refuge encompasses prairies, forest and wetlands that give visitors an idea of how the area used to look decades and centuries earlier. More than 20 miles of hiking trails await; even seniors can enjoy spending quiet moments among native flora and fauna. Highlights include the Marsh Boardwalk (a loop over wetland), Prairie Dog Town (near the buffalo pasture) and Limestone Ledge (paved nature trail that is ideal for short walks or wheelchairs).

Besides buffalo, prairie dogs and deer, there are 150 species of birds to observe. These include geese, herons, snowy egrets and 18 species of ducks. At least 35 species of trees and shrubs and 36 species of wildflowers have been identified on the grounds.

Each year, the Buffalo Boogie is held to benefit the bison herd, which has grown from three bison to 27 as of 2013. Bison represent a living species that plays an important role in the ecology of the land, interacting with other nearby animals such as prairie dogs. Caring for this sizeable herd takes significant financial resources. This year’s Buffalo Boogie will be held Saturday, May 9, featuring a fun run and walk, live music, food and children’s activities. Even dogs can participate.

Currently spring wildflowers abound at the Center & Refuge, dotting the landscape with bright colors. Vivid Texas bluebonnets, dark red winecups and yellow star-shaped Lindheimer daisies can be seen at various times this season.

Educational programs are offered year-round that bring visitors closer to nature and interpret the ecosystem found at the center. You might find presentations on native bees, wildflowers, land management and other intriguing subjects.

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Wildlife Refuge is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. before April 30 and after May 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.     Admission is $3 for seniors (65 and over), $5 for adults and $2 for children.

If there’s a senior you know who loves nature, it’s hard to find a more tranquil and scenic haven than The Fort Worth Nature Center & Wildlife Refuge. With its variety of short trails and diverse scenery, it is an escape worth making any time of the year. Discover what’s coming up at www.fwnaturecenter.org.

Home Care Assistance of Fort Worth can bring your senior closer to nature with outings to such places as The Fort Worth Nature Center & Wildlife Refuge. Beyond in-home care, our caregivers are well versed in many local possibilities for spending a memorable day.

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