Group Works to Save Untouched Prairie

By Brian Curtis
|  Thursday, Apr 22, 2010  |  Updated 5:41 AM CDT
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Saving the Fort Worth Prairie

NBCDFW.com

The Fort Worth Prairie once covered 1.3 million acres stretching from the Oklahoma border to Johnson County.

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Saving the Fort Worth Prairie

The future of the small patch of the Fort Worth Prairie that remains untouched is uncertain.
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With the Metroplex continually growing outward, the future of the small patch of the Fort Worth Prairie that remains untouched is uncertain.

The Fort Worth Prairie once covered 1.3 million acres stretching from the Oklahoma border to Johnson County. Today, one of the only untouched remnants covers approximately 2,000 acres near Benbrook Lake.

"Almost all your native prairies have either been completely destroyed or plowed or so overgrazed that they've had all the plants and native communities lost," said Jarid Manos of the Great Plains Restoration Council, which is working to create a permanent park on the site.

The group also uses the land for outreach programs that help troubled youth.

The Fort Worth Prairie is prized for its 700 native plant species and abundance of wildlife, including buffalo. A 300-year-old Texas Cedar Elm tree towers over the landscape. Rocky Creek also flows through the property, its waters teeming with frogs, fish and mussels.

"This place has been living and breathing for thousands of years," Manos said. 

But modern civilization is encroaching as the Metroplex grows. Power lines cross the horizon. A natural-gas pipeline has already cut across the prairie.

Manos said developers have tried to buy the property, which is owned by the state of Texas.

The acreage is worth millions, which the group does not have.

"It's a big, high-cost project," Manos said.

Right now, the GPRC and the state are trying to find a way to preserve the land. But Manos said he fears time may run out, and the untouched Fort Worth Prairie will be gone forever.

"Everything is going to be paved over," he said.

More: Great Plains Restoration Council

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