4th Quarter 2020 * Volume 28, Issue 4
A Quarterly Newsletter Sponsored by the Friends in Support of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
Dear Friends,
Fall is finally here! (I think.) The weather, as usual in Texas, changes daily, but for the most part, it’s feeling like fall to me. This is my favorite time of year—cool, crisp air; fall foliage; and the perfect weather for being in nature.
We have exciting news to share! The City of Fort Worth has received Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's 2020 Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant for $1.5 million to restore the Lotus Marsh Boardwalk and add other improvements to the site. The City is contributing $1.2 million in matching funds, and the Friends, through a generous donor, is contributing $300,000, the largest single gift we have received in our nearly 50 years of existence. You can find out more about this exceptional opportunity in the article below.
This public/private partnership has been a long journey involving much more than dollars. Many stakeholders worked in tandem to bring about its success. One of our board members, George Bristol, began the process by tirelessly advocating for state funding. Another board member, Marty Leonard, took up the reins and worked with City Councilman Dennis Shingleton and other City leaders to provide the state’s required matching funds. Everyone’s efforts paid off, and the City agreed to apply for the grant to restore the remaining portion of the boardwalk. In an effort to provide partnership support for the grant, the Friends agreed to raise $300,000 toward the matching funds.
So, who is our remarkable donor? Facebook. The local Facebook Data Center recently provided a grant to a local nonprofit, and I wanted to learn more. Through Councilman Shingleton’s office, I was able to connect with Facebook in April 2019. At the time, we had a potential donor for the boardwalk grant match, so I wanted to reach out to Facebook about technology or education funding. I met with Facebook’s Matt Sexton at the Nature Center one sunny afternoon in May 2019 and gave him a tour. He was amazed (not surprising) and was very intrigued with the boardwalk. I mentioned the boardwalk project, and he wanted to learn more. I presented Matt with a project overview, and he initially was interested in supporting the conservation measures with a contribution of $100,000. After months of discussing the project in detail, Matt surprised me with a call in November. Facebook wanted to provide the full matching amount of $300,000. I am never speechless, but at that moment, I was.
The longstanding donor with whom we had been working graciously stepped aside to let us work with a new funder and partner.
This is just a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes efforts of how the Friends advocate on behalf of the Nature Center, continually striving to grow our partnerships and funding opportunities.
Because of your support as a member and/or donor, you make it possible for us to do just that. Thank you.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy, 
Haily Summerford, MBA
Executive Director
Behind the Scenes at the Refuge
On behalf of the staff of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, I want to thank our visitors for their patience and understanding during our reopening process. From online reservations to specific hours of entry and hourly visitor limits, it has been a challenge to design and implement a reopening plan that accounts for the safety and other needs of visitors, volunteers, and staff. We are pleased to announce that, beginning October 1, several changes were implemented for visitors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted how we are able to interact with the public. However, one thing has remained the same: our interaction with the land and wildlife. The critters running around the Refuge are oblivious to the fact that there is a virus among us that requires masks, closure of the Hardwicke, and limits on hourly visitation. Refuge staff is fortunate that many of the disruptions caused by the virus have had minimal impact on our job responsibilities. We took full advantage of being closed to the public, and I feel our wildlife may have done the same.
Friends News
Fort Worth has received a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to make improvements at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The grant is matched with $1.2 million in City of Fort Worth funds and a $300,000 donation from Facebook, raised by the Friends of FWNC&R.
The Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center Board of Directors is pleased to announce the election of seven new board members. We greatly appreciate their willingness to give their time in support of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The board has also selected a new slate of officers: Pete McKone will serve as president, Linda Christie as president-elect, Lynda Gearheart as past-president, Will Rogers as treasurer, and Ellen Browning as secretary.
Conservation on the Refuge
One of the joys of being a naturalist is viewing first-hand nature’s networks and appreciating how they operate in tandem. In some circumstances, these connections develop as a predator-prey relationship—and sometimes, we seem to be the latter. During my time at the Nature Center, I have come to realize that my admiration for arachnids is not one-sided. The taxa Acari (ticks and mites) in this family also have a fondness for me—more than other coworkers—as their next meal.
One of our responsibilities at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is land and habitat management. This includes performing a wide array of activities such as prescribed burns, brush clearing—both mechanical and chemical—and various types of surveys to assess and monitor habitat conditions and wildlife populations on the Refuge. A browse survey (or stem count index) is a commonly employed habitat appraisal method used to evaluate how white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) may be affecting habitat in a given area.
Bluestem Broadcasts
Since the last issue of Bluestem News, the Friends have completed the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) grant for Greer Island. The Friends provided more than $150,000 in matching and additional funding to support the project, and TPWD’s grant provided $200,000. Take a quick look at the fantastic changes that have been made. Enjoy!
At the Nature Center
Leading hikes, teaching education workshops, guiding aquatic tours—these programs have always been a staple at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Since the current pandemic has created such disruption to our lives, our programs, in my opinion, have become even more valuable. Granted, our programming looks very different, but we are still doing everything we can to offer high-level outdoor education for our guests.
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