A New View of the Bison

A New View of the Bison

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Two new platforms will soon give visitors a better and more-frequent view of the Nature Center's bison.
Rendering of the new bison viewing platforms at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
The second (and larger) bison viewing platform will be more than 11 feet high, giving visitors an unobstructed view of the bison (reverse angle of rendering, looking toward the parking lot). Existing native trees will be incorporated into the design to provide natural shade. Rendering by Anchor Construction LLC.

For nearly 50 years, bison have roamed the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The herd began in 1973 with a donation of three bison from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge’s first bison calf, a heifer, was born on May 21, 1974. The herd currently consists of one adult bull, 12 cows, and five calves that were born this year.

Overall rendering of the new bison viewing platforms at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
This overall rendering shows several views of the new bison viewing platforms. Visitors will be able to park in the new parking lot and access two platforms, each different heights, to see the bison. The parking lot, trail, and platforms will all be ADA accessible. Rendering by Anchor Construction LLC.

Management of the bison includes rotating the herd through the five pastures where they reside to ensure the land remains a healthy ecosystem for the bison and other wildlife. That’s why the bison are not always visible during this rotation. This limits the opportunity for visitors to see one of their favorite attractions at the park and for the Friends and Nature Center staff to emphasize the importance of the bison through educational programs and events.

Rendering of the new parking lot for the upcoming bison viewing platforms at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
The project will include a new ADA-accessible parking lot leading to the bison viewing platforms. Rendering by Anchor Construction LLC.

To address this, the Nature Center needs a space that offers visitors and students a greater opportunity to view the bison on its native land. The herd is the only one of its kind in North Texas, making it more important than ever to offer more opportunities to experience and learn about this historic mammal. The Nature Center, along with the Friends, has long discussed creating a space for visitors and school groups to view the bison eight months out of the year.

Map of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge showing the location of the new bison viewing platforms
The red star on this map shows the area of the Nature Center where the new bison viewing platforms will be located. Map by FWNC&R.

The Friends and the Nature Center recently met to try to develop the best space for this purpose. The resulting concept is two viewing platforms overlooking the East and Northeast pastures. The first platform visitors will encounter from the parking lot will be 10 feet by 10 feet and stand four feet high. The second platform will be 30 feet by 20 feet, with a height of 11 feet, six inches. The native trees located on the site of the second platform will be incorporated into the design to create a natural canopy of shade.

Rendering of the two new bison viewing platforms that will be constructed at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
The new bison viewing area will include two elevated platforms, one shorter and the other taller, to give visitors different perspectives and viewing angles of the bison. Rendering by Anchor Construction LLC.

The $450,000 project is made possible through the generosity of the Ryan Foundation and H-E-B. Keep an eye out! Construction may begin as soon as March!

By Haily Summerford, Executive Director, Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

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