FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Visitors to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Wildlife Refuge can be one with nature, without ever having to leave the city limits.

It is a unique place that Michael Perez, the Education Manager at the Nature Center, says is a hidden gem for the city.

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“Fort Worth is now the 12th largest city in the country,” Perez says. “So, having a 3,621-acre park here for the City of Fort Worth is amazing.”

Visitors can hike and explore at their own pace or explore the Nature Center through one of their guided hikes. Some of their regular programming includes hikes focused on insects, hikes helping you find camouflaged animals and a hike called the “One Meter Hike.”

“We look at all the things you can see in one meter,” Perez says. “So, we spend the whole time talking about all the fascinating things that you can find in a one-meter span.”

The Nature Center covers a vast area of land, that contains diverse ecosystems from Cross Timbers Forest to prairie habitats and aquatic areas, which are all home to a diverse animal population that includes a rambunctious herd of 18 bison.

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In total, Daniel Price, the Natural Resource Manager for the Fort Worth Nature Center, says there are 18 bison on the property, which includes one bull and four calves.

“Everybody likes to see babies, right? So, if nothing else, if people want to come out and just see the babies, I am okay with that,” Price explains. “Because we are going to teach them so much more when they get to the property.”

The bison play an important part in the Nature Center’s programming, where there are bison meet and greet times and opportunities for guests to participate in guided bison tours where they can help feed the herd.

“We like to say our herd serves three purposes, Price says. “They are an educational animal for us, they are a keystone species for the native prairies and the ecosystem here in Fort Worth, and they serve as a genetic diversity program for bison in Texas.”

Bison were previously nearly extinct, but through conservation programs like the Fort Worth Nature Center are now being protected for generations to come.

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The Nature Center offers a membership program called “Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center.” A membership gets you free admission and free access to most programming.

Madison Sawyer