The LBJ Grasslands Project

Northwest of Fort Worth there are over twenty thousand acres of prairie and oak woodland. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands are mostly quiet places with native prairie grasses and patches of post oak and blackjack oak. Armadillos bumble through the woodland and nighthawks wheel and circle above ponds and meadows at sunset. It is public land managed by the USDA Forest Service. Small and large parcels of the grasslands are scattered among private land, with a few “units” big enough to walk down the trails for hours. People wander just for the peace and beauty, and they do nature study, ride horses, fish and hunt.

It is a big, biodiverse place that belongs to all of us, a great refuge from the “built” world of cities and highways. Its history, both natural and human, is ongoing. It is a history that we ought to understand and participate in as the story keeps unfolding. For that reason, Michael Smith and Kayla West began the “LBJ Grasslands Project” in order to study its nature and invite people to explore it. Our goal is to bring a little of this place into the lives of more people, in a way that supports the nature of the grasslands and enriches the lives of the people.

A prairie just below a ridge in a unit of the grasslands near Decatur

For upcoming events for the LBJ Grasslands Project, please see the “Calendar” page of this website.

The Project has existed as a Facebook Group, but we want to communicate with people who don’t use social media, too. We will maintain this page of the Our Lives in Nature website as a parallel site, keeping you up to date about public activities and background information. Additionally, we’ve set up a Google email group to allow more back-and-forth communication about events or anything else. To subscribe, do either of these things:

We’ll approve you asap, and then please send an email to the group with your real name and anything you’d like to tell us about your interest and experience with the grasslands.


I’ve been exploring the LBJ National Grasslands for over 20 years. Initially I was very focused on finding the various reptile and amphibian species there, but gradually I took the time to experience the plant and animal communities more fully. As a result, I have some familiarity with the “bigger picture” of those woods and prairies, although I still have a lot to learn. But my aim is to do more than study the place. I have on the one hand a scientific interest in the natural history of plants and animals and their ecological relationships. On the other hand I am drawn to let the analytic part of my brain rest and just be there. Rather than spending the moments at LBJ Grasslands thinking about what I am seeing, I can just see – and hear, and experience in all the other ways.