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Photo by Lona Cain

Bayou Ranger: Guest on a pontoon boat tour enjoy the wildlife surrounding Armand Bayou.

Armand Bayou Nature Center connects visitors with the wild

To experience the beauty of mother nature, visit the home of the Armand Bayou Nature Center. It is a captivating 2,500 acres of natural wetlands forest, prairie and marsh habitats.

Established in 1974, ABNC is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the United States and home to 370 species of wildlife.

Armand Bayou, once called Middle Bayou, was named after Armand Yramategui, a visionary who initiated the preservation of the bayou and the surrounding lands.

ABNC has an active volunteer program. Candy Donahue, associate director for the Armand Bayou Nature Center, said there are about 150 volunteers who put in 14,000 hours a year, and every volunteer goes through extensive master naturalist training programs.

"Mankind has to stay very actively involved in preserving the prairie to keep it the way it was before man arrived," Donahue said.

ABNC offers hiking trails, field trips, Scout programs, pontoon boat tours, guided canoe tours and much more.

The Bayou Ranger pontoon boat will take you on a tour through the Armand Bayou. Two tours are offered every Saturday.

Breakfast on the Bayou is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. There is also a Sunset Cruise; times vary as the seasons change.

If you crave more adventure, try a guided canoe tour. They are offered every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 8 to 11 a.m.

Reservations are required for all pontoon boat and canoe rides. Pontoon boat tours are available for ages 10 and up. Canoe tours are available for ages 5 and up. All children 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult for both the pontoon boat and canoe boat tours.

For Breakfast on the Bayou, the price is $25 for non-members and $20 for children and seniors who are non-members. The Sunset Cruise is $20 for non-members and $15 for children and seniors who are non-members. Canoe rides are $25 for non-members. Riders are picked up at Bay Area Park.

ABNC hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed Mondays. Admission is free for ages 4 and under, $1 for ages 5 to 17, $3 for adults, $1 for seniors aged 60 years or older and members are free. The last admission is taken at 4:30 p.m.

For questions about the nature center or any of the services it offers, call (281) 474-2551 or visit the Web site at www.abnc.org.

 

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