After a decade of visiting the trails at Tandy Hills Natural Area, Benbrook resident Breena Riley invited one of her friends to tag along on a hike.
The green space in the middle of the city surprised her friend. But Riley knew this area has not always been this way. She said she has seen firsthand how the native prairie was not well maintained until recently.
“There’s been a lot more love put into them over the past few years and it shows in the trail improvements,” Riley said.
Soon, Riley and her friend will have more to explore near Tandy Hills, with neighboring Broadcast Hill preparing to upgrade its trail system. The city’s Open Space Conservation Program purchased 50-plus acres of Broadcast Hill in 2020, helping to preserve some of the last remaining prairie in Fort Worth.
Last fall, the North Texas Community Foundation awarded a $150,000 grant to the city of Fort Worth to build a trail at Broadcast Hill and connect it to paths at Tandy Hills, the nature area south of Interstate 30, east of downtown.
Brandi Kelp, a senior planner who oversees the open space program, helped to bring those dollars to east Fort Worth.
“It would have happened eventually, but it could have been years down the road,” Kelp said. “This grant allows us to jump years ahead on that master plan, and complete the trail system.”
What are the planned improvements?
The city’s plan for Broadcast Hill is to add about two miles of trails that will connect to nearby paths and create an entrance with parking. The grant will also help fund two natural resource management interns who will be in charge of educating the public on why it’s important to stay on the trails and take care of the landscape.
“A lot of this is about public education and helping people understand how they can enjoy the sight without causing damage to it,” Kelp said.
Broadcast Hill is a popular prairie in West Meadowbrook and named after the transmission tower that sits atop its hill.
Fort Worth currently doesn’t have a dedicated natural resource management team, but plans to use interns as a test run for a permanent team, Kelp said. Kelp expects maintenance to be minimal, with occasional mowing to help wildflowers.
Controlling invasive species, installing trail maps and markers, and habitat restoration are also a part of the North Texas Community Foundation grant to the city.
‘This grant money will help’
Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a group of residents dedicated to protecting the prairie, played a large role in the restoration of Tandy Hills and the original purchase of Broadcast Hill.
In 2020, the non-profit fundraised roughly $64,400 to help the city buy Broadcast Hill, which cost a total of $610,000. Fort Worth’s oil and gas fund was used for the rest of the purchase.
Broadcast Hill was the Open Space Conservation Program’s first purchase. Last November, the city bought another five properties spanning 29 acres on the western shoreline of Lake Arlington for $2.5 million.
Don Young, a co-founder of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, also helped with the application process for The North Texas Community Foundation grant. He wrote the application letter and was a part of a video for the grant.
“I have always believed that Tandy Hills and Broadcast Hill deserve to have the same protections and care as that of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge,” Young said. “We aren’t there yet, but this grant money will help.”
Kelp expects the trail to be finished in about a year.
Riley, the frequent Tandy Hills hiker, knows the passion that goes into caring for the area. She’s glad the city is preserving the prairie and looks forward to the new trail.
Disclosure: The North Texas Community Foundation has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.