Long Acres Ranch Nature Center to host public visitors, research, more
COLLEGE STATION – A new six-year $1.2 million contract with a private nonprofit foundation has been secured by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to develop the Long Acres Ranch Nature Center.
The center property is located along Williams Way Blvd. near Richmond, southwest of Houston. It consists of more than 750 acres along 3 miles of the Brazos River.
“The center will be available to the public as well as functioning as a nature tourism research and demonstration site,” said Miles Phillips, head of the AgriLife Extension nature tourism program, who serve as the center’s program director.
The nature tourism program is under the auspices of the Texas A&M University recreation, park and tourism sciences department at College Station.
“Rather than just a building, this nature center is a former ranch — and all activities will be outdoors,” he explained.
“We are looking at a soft opening sometime in the fall and having the center fully open in early 2015,” Phillips said. “The program will offer recreational activities for youth and adults in addition to education and training programs. The site and programming will also offer opportunities for both researchers and students.”
Phillips said he is in the process of hiring an AgriLife Extension associate to serve as full-time on-site manager, and is working closely with the AgriLife Extension office in Fort Bend County and the Fort Bend 4-H program on how to maximize center use.
“All programs and the development of new programs and facilities will be guided by an existing plan of action developed as part of the service contract with the foundation that owns Long Acres Ranch and is supporting this project,” he said.
Phillips said the center will be of interest to those involved in agritourism, ecotourism, wildlife and nature tourism.
“We will be providing activities for adults and youth that include paddling, hayrides, tent camping, night walks, wildlife viewing, birding and nature walks, photo hunts, campfire events, and 4-H natural resource programs and events. We also plan to have an annual natural heritage event to serve the Richmond community.”
He said the center also will provide specialized training for those interested in wildlife and nature, nature-based tourism and wildlife and outdoor recreation business management skills.
For more information, go to http://agrilife.org/longacresranch/.
“I am available to discuss scheduling for individual and group visits to Long Acres Ranch,” Phillips said. He can be contacted at 979-845-1023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.