When you are at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, stop by the newly opened Bison Viewing Deck to see the bison from a new perspective. The deck is the first experience of its kind in the North Texas area. It’s also a great perch from which to do some bird watching.
The 700-foot-long series of ramps and decks gradually increases in elevation, stopping along the way at a five-foot-high deck that overlooks one of the bison pastures, peaking at the second deck, which provides a 14-foot-high view of two bison pastures. The bison rotate through five different pastures throughout the year, so when you visit, be sure to ask gate staff where the bison are currently residing.
The project was made possible through donations from the Ryan Foundation, H-E-B, Anchor Construction, LLC, and the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge.
“This project has been a dream on paper for more than a year, and to finally see it come to life is incredible,” notes Friends Board President Linda Christie. “The Friends have supported the bison at the Nature Center in various ways for decades, and the decks are just our latest effort to help sustain bison conservation. We are sincerely grateful to the Ryan Foundation, H-E-B, and Anchor Construction for being essential partners in this one-of-a-kind project.”
For nearly 50 years, bison have roamed the Nature Center. The herd began with a donation of three bison from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in 1973. The first bison calf, a heifer, was born on May 21, 1974. The herd currently consists of four young bulls and 16 cows, including two calves born this year.
The bison are a large part of the Nature Center’s interpretive program, where the herd acts as a living visual aid for people to learn about animal adaptation, land management programs, prairie ecology, and more. Bison are a keystone native species for the grassland ecosystems of North America, and the Nature Center’s herd is used to assist with land management of the more than 200 acres of pasture where they reside.