Some people view nature in the same way Chevy Chase looks at the Grand Canyon in Vacation –– a quick glance, a nod, and done. Others enjoy relaxing in the shade and listening to a bird warble, not caring a whit that they don’t know what kind of tree is creating their shade or what kind of bird is singing songs.
Then, there are the hardcore nature lovers, the ones who examine a beetle crawling in the dirt with the same gusto usually reserved for watching exotic dancers crawl up poles. About 40 of the state’s top biologists are converging on Fort Worth this week for BioBlitz, the first event of its kind at Tandy Hills Natural Area and one of the first such full-scale environmental events in North Texas. The scientists will be studying plants, animals, and organisms all week at 3400 View Street. Friends of Tandy Hills, a local environmental group, will create a document and a video with the information.
“That data will help us with land management,” said local environmentalist Don Young.
The final 36 hours of BioBlitz –– from 6 a.m. on Friday, April 22, to 6 p.m. Saturday, which is Earth Day –– will focus on public participation with wildflower walks and food vendors. The 160-acre protected natural area is just south of I-30 between Oakland Boulevard and Beach Street. BioBlitz takes the place of PrairieFest, the popular and unique green festival that drew thousands of visitors and dozens of music acts each year before recently ending after a 10-year run. PrairieFest had become a monumental task for the half-dozen volunteers, who planned and pulled it off each year in addition to the organized hikes, brush pickups, and other events held regularly at Tandy Hills.
“We never intended to get in the festival business,” Young said. “We decided we were going to get back to our roots, protecting the park and doing things like BioBlitz.”
Biologists from the Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Wesleyan University, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Texas Christian University, and other institutions will descend on the park like a swarm of monarch butterflies. Speaking of which, Mayor Betsy Price will be on hand to sign a monarch pledge at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mayors who sign the National Wildlife Federation’s pledge are committing to restore natural habitat in their cities. Monarch butterflies have dwindled in number by 90 percent in the last 20 years.
Young is thrilled that Price is signing the pledge at BioBlitz.
“That’s a big deal for Friends of Tandy Hills, who have often been adversaries with the city,” Young said.