Research

Rough Green Snake by FWNC&R Staff

Exploring Nature

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge offers an incredibly unique resource for the surrounding community as well as the larger Fort Worth area. One of the benefits of having this resource so close is the ability to easily conduct research in areas related to nature. One of the services in which the Friends takes special pride is the research at the Nature Center that we have conducted and financed over the years.

We are a landscape that’s native to North Texas and the Fort Worth area. Here, people can get in touch with that sense of place and gain knowledge of what makes our area such a special landscape in which to live.

Suzanne Tuttle, Former Manager, Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

Rough Green Snake by FWNC&R Staff

Notable Research Projects

Young boy drawing in a notebook during Trails to Nature at the Fort Worth Nature Center
Trails to Nature by Friends Staff

Trails to Nature

Thanks to a grant from the Alcon Foundation, the Friends and Nature Center staff worked closely with Fort Worth ISD to develop Trails to Nature, a program using a published research model created by Friends Executive Director Haily Summerford to help students increase their scientific knowledge by exploring the outdoors while learning about science and conservation problem-solving. Students explore the Refuge, conducting outdoor, hands-on, science-based activities; develop scientific questions; conduct experiments; and find answers through the scientific method. For many students, the visit marks their first encounter with the natural world. Students have improved their knowledge as measured by pre/post state exam questions by an average of 25%, far surpassing the original 5 to 10% goal.

Trail Counter Program

A unique program made possible by the Anita Berry Martin Memorial Fund, Friends funding, and Nature Center staff is currently ongoing at the Nature Center. An infrared trail counter system was installed in strategic locations along the Nature Center’s more than 20 miles of trails and is collecting much-needed data and research to help Nature Center staff manage and maintain the Refuge’s walking and hiking trails. The data is helping identify the areas that receive the greatest use and most impact, allowing trail management efforts to be directed to those areas to help lessen or mitigate the impacts. Visitors will ultimately reap the benefits through a more positive experience on the trails.

Staff installing a post to mount a trail counter at the Fort Worth Nature Center
Trail Counter Project by FWNC&R Staff
White blooming Chinese privet shrub growing in a forest area and covering a large tree
Chinese Privet

Invasive Species Study

When non-native species such as Chinese privet invade an area, they can negatively impact native flora and fauna. By controlling these invaders, native species can rebound and thrive. The North Texas Community Foundation’s Anita Berry Martin Memorial Fund awarded a $25,000 grant to the Friends to research and remove invasive species at the Nature Center. In partnership with Texas Christian University and Nature Center natural resource management staff, the Friends conducted a study within select bison pastures of the best invasive brush management practices to retain the native landscape throughout the Refuge. After removal of invasive species, the study will continue to monitor a series of treatment methods that will help keep the invasives from regenerating.