Our History

2000 - Organized Friends of the FNC & Became 501 (c)(3) organization

2000 - 2002 Built nature trails and sought members

2002 - Began Wildlife Inventory in Park

2004 - Initiated Third Grade Day in Park

2005 - HC Master Naturalists join FNC workforce

2007 - Built HAT Trail

2008 - FNC became affiliate of LBJWC

2011 - Started W.O.T.H. Nature Festival

2012 - Built the Pollinator Garden

The groundwork for establishing a nature center was laid in 2000 when Bill Lindemann and friends formed the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center (FFNC) organization, achieved a non-profit Texas Corporation with 501 (c)(3) status under the IRS statutes. FFNC asked the City of Fredericksburg about the availability an unused portion of Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park for the development of a nature center. The City of Fredericksburg considered this part of the property as not compatible with their future plans and signed a service agreement with the FFNC to proceed with establishing the nature center.

 

The FFNC is a membership-based organization and has enjoyed a consistent roll of approximately 100 members from the area, state and nation. We invite everyone interested in promoting nature through education and recreation to become members of FFNC. The eventual goal is take the Fredericksburg Nature Center to the next level where an interpretative center can provide year-round educational opportunities for the visitors to the park.

 

The mission of the FFNC is to enhance, protect and interpret the natural ecosystem of the Texas Hill Country while providing educational and quality of life opportunities for members of the community and visitors. An immediate goal of FFNC was to provide a venue for outdoor classrooms for local and area schools to study nature and enjoy hiking in a natural setting. Initial trail construction began in 2000 using volunteers from the community, including school students, boy scouts and members of the FFNC. The initial Live Oak Wilderness trail was approximately 3,000 feet long through several ecosystems, including forest, prairie, riparian, wetlands and post oak savannah.

 

Inventory lists were made of the relevant fauna and flora as a basis for future planning as well as providing hikers help in species identification. These lists reveal a major diversity of wildlife on the relatively small area, highlighted by 240 wildflowers, 180 birds, 70 butterflies, 50 odonates (dragonfly family), and excellent representations of mammals, reptiles, fish, trees and grasses. The unusual diversity is related to the seven natural habitats found in the nature area.

 

The Vista Loop trail was completed in 2002, adding 2000 feet to the center’s trail system. In 2007, approximately 650 feet of the Vista Loop trail was converted to a handicapped accessibility trail (with adjacent parking lot).This change allowed more individuals to enjoy the nature center trails. This HAT trail features beautiful vistas, access to the butterfly habitat, bird feeding area, a wildflower pocket prairie, and a rock and geology exhibition site still under construction. The bird blind is specifically built for wheelchairs, a feature not found in many nature venues.

The Vista Loop trail was completed in 2002, adding 2000 feet to the center’s trail system. In 2007, approximately 650 feet of the Vista Loop trail was converted to a handicapped accessibility trail (with adjacent parking lot).This change allowed more individuals to enjoy the nature center trails. This HAT trail features beautiful vistas, access to the butterfly habitat, bird feeding area, a wildflower pocket prairie, and a rock and geology exhibition site still under construction. The bird blind is specifically built for wheelchairs, a feature not found in many nature venues.

 

The nature center’s goal to provide an outdoor classroom was immediately successful as local and area schools brought students to get first hand knowledge of our ecosystems. The Fredericksburg Elementary School decided in 2004 to bring the school’s approximately 200 third graders to the nature area for a Day in the Park. The students study birds, bats, butterflies, dragonflies, turtles and other aspects of the natural diversity found in the park. The annual event became part of the school’s regular curriculum in 2006; fourteen years later, more than 2,500 third graders have enjoyed their day in the park.

 

The Fredericksburg (Noon) Rotary Club became a partner in the Third Grade Day in the Park in 2007 by sponsoring a special Birds of Prey program given by Last Chance Forever, a raptor rehabilitation Center from San Antonio. This program gives the students close observation of many live birds of prey, some of which take flight to demonstrate the birds’ incredible flying skills. The success of these events is a tribute to the many volunteer instructors who share their knowledge of nature with the students; many of these volunteers are members of the Hill Country Master Naturalist chapter.

 

Visitors from practically every state in the union and many countries have hiked the nature trails and enjoyed seeing Hill Country nature up close. It is estimated that three thousand hikers and visitors hike the nature trails annually. FFNC offers guided nature hikes on request to all local and area school groups, birding clubs and nature-oriented organizations.

 

In 2010 the Fredericksburg Rotary clubs invited FFNC to join them in a fund-raising festival event. Rotary and FFNC agreed to conduct a nature festival in the spring of 2011, the “Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival, a Celebration of Natural Flight” to occur in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park on the last weekend in April. The Rotary clubs elected to withdraw after three years and FFNC operated the festival for an additional four years. The successful nature festival fit well into its mission; however, the FFNC board realized the capacity to sustain the work intensive demands of such a festival for the long term was overly taxing on the organization’s time, energy, and other commitments. The festival was reluctantly suspended after seven years.

 

In 2012, the City of Fredericksburg offered FFNC an abandoned experimental rose garden in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park to build an additional butterfly habitat. FFNC used this opportunity to showcase the value of pollinators in sustaining a vigorous plant community. With thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer labor, the rose garden transformed into a “beehive” of activity and beauty. The Pollinator Garden has become the most beautiful area in the park and a “must see” destination for park visitors.

 

After eighteen years, the development of a first-class nature venue in the Texas Hill Country is a tribute to what a group of very dedicated volunteers can provide. The City of Fredericksburg has provided materials and machinery, but the bulk of the physical work can be attributed to members, Master Naturalists, students, and boy scouts. Enthusiasm for the nature center project has never waned by all involved in its history – a true testament to the difference a group of volunteers can make in a community and region.