FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a forest recognized nationally for its unique beauty and pristine condition. But due to storm damage to access trails, few public visitors have seen it in years. But that may change soon.

The Cross Timbers at The Fort Worth Nature Center and Reserve is 300 acres of uncut forest surrounded by water. A levee people could walk across to get to the forest was washed out repeatedly. Nearly three years have passed since the trail has been open to public accessGrass swallowed the trails leading to the cross timbers long ago and in places it towers over six feet tall.

“This is an uncut, virgin forest 300 years old,” Denkaus said pointing at the trees, which provide a thick canopy that shades an open forest floor covered with a blanket of leaves void of large bushes.

forest trees Public May Soon Have Access To 300 Year Old Forest

(photo credit: Joel Thomas/CBS11 News)

Even though the trees are hundreds of years old, a lack of nutrients in the sandy soil means they are only a foot or two around, their bark twisting around the trunk unlike other oaks. Grape vines wrap around limbs, trunks jut from one tree to another like wooden lightning across a sky of leaves; all untouched for centuries.

“This is one of the reasons the nature center exists in the sense of the nature center is a national, natural landmark. It has national status based upon this forest, because this forest is so unusual,” Denkhaus said.

Right now visitors kayak or canoe right past the forest, unable to access it.

But a new, public/private project is rebuilding the levee, improving flood control both at the center and downstream at downtown Fort Worth. It will also incorporate a bridge and reopen a hidden gem of natural history to the public.

“What we are trying to show is what this used to be. And what it can continue to be despite development. Because development and natural history can work hand-in-hand,” Denkhaus said.

The project is expected to be completed by this fall.

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