Natural Resource Manager Daniel Price began working at the nature center after meeting the former manager at a convention. He was offered an internship at the center and was eventually hired when the former manager was promoted, Price said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Walkers will have more ground to cover at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge after a planned expansion to the Marty Leonard Lotus Marsh Boardwalk.

A $3 million renovation to the boardwalk will begin in 2022, Daniel Price, the natural resource manager at the refuge, said. A section of the existing trail was blocked off by a fallen tree and portions of the boardwalk were washed away by heavy rain.

The center received a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the City of Fort Worth matched the grant with $1.2 million. The majority of the remaining money needed for the renovation was provided by the Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and conserving the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge.

Haily Summerford is the executive director at the Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center, a nonprofit dedicated to bettering the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Her job is to raise funds, she said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

“The city realizes how important it was to the water quality, and they decided to preserve it,” Haily Summerford, the executive director at the Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center, said of the nature center. “A great portion of the boardwalk was washed away by some great floods in 2017.”

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge will be adding expansions to the boardwalk where roamers can see wildlife like alligators, fish and turtles. The boardwalk’s location is an active alligator hotspot.

“It’s kind of a hidden gem,” Summerford said. “People will come here and tell us they never knew about the center.”

The refuge and the Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center organization work together to provide funding for projects and renovations. 

Photo Gallery

The Marty Leonard Lotus Marsh Boardwalk was dedicated to Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center Board Emeritus Marty Leonard. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A pavillion can be found near the Marty Leonard Lotus Marsh Boardwalk. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The boardwalk was recently redone, but an expansion is being planned for 2022. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Alligators have been spotted near the Marty Leonard Lotus Marsh Boardwalk. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The Marty Leonard Lotus Marsh Boardwalk at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge will undergo a $3 million expansion and renovation in 2022. The boardwalk will connect to a hiking trail, Haily Summerford, the executive director at the Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center, said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The boardwalk renovation will fix broken parts of the existing boardwalk and connect it to a trail alongside Lake Worth. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
New species of vegetation can be found during the summer that you cannot find in other seasons at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Mushrooms can be found on the grounds of the nature center. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Greer Island is the original location where the nature center was founded. Visitors and students on field trips bird watched on Greer Island. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Vegetation lines the lake at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Docks around the nature center are accessible for canoers and fishers. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Greer Island is one of the many spots at the nature center that amblers can visit. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A warning sign tells amblers not to mess with the alligators. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Warning signs tell hikers not to bring weapons, traps or dogs into the area. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Turtles and other wildlife can be found at the nature center. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Holes dug decades ago are filled with sand and soil and restored into different biomes at the nature center, Daniel Price, the natural resource manager at the refuge, said.
Frequent burnings clear brush and allow native plants to thrive. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A solar panel-powered well refills a water tank that buffalo use to hydrate. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The Hardwicke Interpretive Center at the refuge provides guidance and other information to visitors. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A bird feeding location can be found outside of the Hardwicke Interpretive Center. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Informational items and signs are on display at the Hardwicke Interprative Center. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Birds and squirrels come to the feeding area throughout the day. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Lizards and other reptiles and critters can be found roaming the nature center. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The nature center hosts events that are open to the public, such as kayaking and flower walks. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
A snake catches some sun near shallow water at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
The City of Fort Worth owns more than 3,600 acres of land where the nature center lies, but within the area a small portion of land is not owned by the city; residents live in that area. The city has been attempting to buy houses in the area to demolish them and make them a part of the nature center, Natural Resource Manager Daniel Price said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.

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