FORT WORTH NATURE CENTER 
& REFUGE

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Fort Worth, Texas. One does not think of bayous when one thinks of Fort Worth, if one does think of Fort Worth.

However, in Northwest Fort Worth, just off the Jacksboro Highway, between Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake there lies an area of land untouched by Texas Developers, open Prairie with the only housing development being a Prairie Dog Town. Deer and Buffalo roam the semi-open Range. Wooden boardwalks take refuge seekers out into a swampy bayou-like marsh. Miles of trails meander through the Refuge.

In places the landscape looks like a Pacific Northwest Rain Forest, not Northwest Fort Worth, Texas. The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is one of many surprising jewels hidden in the hinterlands of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

click here for a map with directions
 to the Fort Worth Nature Center

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge Admission Fee
$5 Adults (13-64)
$2 Children (3-12;under 3 FREE)
$3 Seniors (65+)
$1 Discount per person (with Military ID)

The decision to begin charging an entrance fee in April of 2006 for access to the FW Nature Preserve was made after little debate by the Fort Worth City Council. One or two councilmen objected. The argument was made that other cities charge for admission to similar parks. However, no argument was made to counter that dubious assertion. Many cities consider their parks to be amenities that add to the overall quality of their communities and to which it is important that the least affluent of their people feel 'free' to visit. Does Central Park in New York City charge an admission? Does Point Defiance Park in Tacoma? Does Stanley Park in Vancouver? Does Golden Gate Park in San Francisco? Does Cameron Park in Waco? Does any city with real aspirations to being a livable community charge an access fee of this sort to a park of this sort? And require the poorest among us to prove they are without means in order to enter?

We have visited the Fort Worth Nature Preserve many a time and have noted on each visit charming scenes of young families with little kids enjoying gawking at the Prairie Dogs and Buffalo.

It seems quite obvious that the already sparsely visited Fort Worth Nature Preserve's number of visitors is going to plummet after an admission charge is imposed and that the admission charge will be self-defeating, likely not even raising sufficient funds to cover the costs of hiring guards to collect money.

It would seem a more sensible solution to funding improvements to a park might be found by learning how other cities manage such tasks.

SCROLL DOWN TO VIEW VIDEO & 
A MAP OF THE FORT WORTH NATURE PRESERVE

Above: The entry to Prairie Dog Town...and a warning to watch out for dangerous buffaloes.

This guy above seems to think he's the mayor of Prairie Dog Town.

click here for a map with directions to the Fort Worth Nature Center

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge click a thumbnail to view a photo

There are many miles of trails in the Fort Worth Nature Preserve. This trail sign points your way across some open prairie where you will eventually find your way to Prairie Dog Town.

Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugeTrail Here is a look at the trail across the prairie referenced in the above sign. We are heading south towards the Prairie Dogs in this photo.
Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugePrairie Dogs The Prairie Dogs act like oversized Meerkats. They don't really bark, it is more of an annoyed sounding squeal.
Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugePrairie Dogs Their town is quite large and it seems much more litter free and well managed than many Texas towns.
A Deer

This deer seemed quite friendly with the herd of buffalo. It seemed the buffalo sent the deer over to see if the photographer had any food.

click here for a map with directions to the Fort Worth Nature Center

Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugeCaprock Trail Sign The Caprock Nature Trails runs along the rim of a limestone escarpment, a remnant of long ago when this area was part of a vast inland sea.
Caprock Trail A couple views of the Caprock Nature Trail as it follows the edge of the escarpment.
Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugeTrail
Rock Steps The rock formations you see in this photo do not appear to be too natural. But they lead to something interesting. You will come to a building called the Hardwick Interpretive Center.
Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugeBobcat Sign The Hardwick Interpretive Center has a very interesting, somewhat sad, somewhat unnatural captive. A bobcat in a cage. If you read the sign that is attached to the cage you will learn that this bobcat had been someone's pet, which they had de-clawed. When it became too much bobcat for them to handle the Fort Worth Nature Preserve gave it refuge. Without claws the bobcat could no longer survive in the wild.
A recovering trail Several locations along the Fort Worth Nature Preserve's trails have the unusual sign we see in this photo, advising us "Earth Healing: Please Stay Off". This seems a rather difficult sign to obey since one is definitely standing on the Earth when told to get off the Earth.
Fort Worth Nature Center and RefugeAlligator warning sign The new signage you see in this photo may be the most interesting in the park. Apparently, possibly dozens of alligators reside in the swampy/bayou-like waters that lead to Lake Worth. The gator population has grown and consequently there has been an increase in human encounters, hence the warning signs.
Beware of Gators Here you see a close up of the warning sign with its very interesting admonitions and prohibitions regarding the alligators.

Above: the trail head of the bayou zone. This is reputed to be an area where snakes and maybe gators like to congregate.

click here for a map with directions to the Fort Worth Nature Center

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refugeboardwalk into the bayou

The boardwalk takes a very serpentine route down to the bayou.

On the boadwalk

Now we are on the boardwalk, above the marsh/bayou/swamp.

Crowds throng to be one with nature. Soon to be paying a fee, in addition to the city taxes they already pay, for doing so.

Looking at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refugebayou The boardwalk meanders well out into the acres of lily pads.
Fort Worth Nature Center and Refugeboardwalk over bayou

The boardwalk seems to disappear into the jungle.

Beautiful mossy trees in the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

Mossy green, like a Pacific Northwest Rain Forest.

Another view of the bayou

A lone Big Bird stands guard on this island in the bayou.

click here for a map with directions 
to the Fort Worth Nature Center

FORT WORTH NATURE PRESERVE MAP

Fort Worth Nature Preserve Map

Click the map of the 
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
  to enlarge it

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comment about the Fort Worth Nature Preserve

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