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Baytown Nature Center

The Baytown Nature Center is a 450-acre peninsula surrounded by three bays. More than 300 species of birds depend on this area for migration, feeding or nesting.

But this recreated wetland isn’t just for the birds. Numerous animals also call the nature center home. In addition, it’s an important nursery area for a variety of aquatic species, including shrimp, crab and fish.

Formerly the Brownwood residential subdivision, the Nature Center now features picnic shelters, three fishing piers, two pavilions and two overlooks. There’s also a Crystal Bay Butterfly Garden, a Children’s Nature Discovery Area and the Myra C. Brown Bird Sanctuary.

The Baytown Nature Center, an official site on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, is operated by the City of Baytown. It is open to the public.

The Baytown Nature Center is open daily all year round except Christmas and during extreme inclement weather. Gates open 30 minutes before sunrise and close 30 minutes after sunset. There is an entrance fee of $3 per person. Annual passes may also be purchased for a fee of $25 per person or $50 per family of six.

History

The Baytown Nature Center, which is operated by the City of Baytown, was formerly the residential subdivision of Brownwood. Over the years, the land subsided due to the withdrawal of oil and groundwater, and the neighborhood suffered problems with flooding.

In 1983, Hurricane Alicia struck the final blow, damaging many of the homes. The area was subsequently condemned. Then, during a community meeting in 1991, the idea arose to turn the area into a nature center. City officials seized the idea and began development of the Baytown Nature Center.

Education

The Baytown Nature Center is full of teaching opportunities, and almost nobody knows that better than the staff at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center. Every year, they conduct the Wetlands Ecology Program for fifth-graders in Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District, and the Baytown Nature Center is prominent on the agenda. Each week, the staffers take groups of fifth-graders out to the Baytown Nature Center for activities like bird-watching and seining. It’s the perfect chance for kids to get up close and personal with nature.

Although the Wetlands Ecology Program is the only ongoing education program currently operating at the Baytown Nature Center, more programs are planned for the future. In the meantime, staff naturalist John Mason makes himself available by request to give group tours of the nature center. To find out more, click here.

Recreation

The Baytown Nature Center is a great place for outdoor recreation. If you enjoy fishing, hiking, picnicking or especially birdwatching, this is the place for you. Bring the kids, too!

San Jacinto Point Recreation Area

This area of the Baytown Nature Center features three fishing piers. You can drive in and park and you and your gear are within a short walk of all three. There are picnic tables nearby, and a paved trail connects this area to the adjacent Nature Discovery Playground and the butterfly garden. There’s a great view of the San Jacinto Monument, and you can watch the ships passing by on the Houston Ship Channel.

Myra C. Brown Wild Bird Sanctuary

This bird sanctuary is located at the northern part of the nature center, and is accessible only by walking trails. No vehicles or bikes are allowed. This sanctuary is a peaceful place where birdwatchers can observe a variety of native and migrating birds. Make sure you bring binoculars!

Crystal Bay Butterfly Garden

Parking is available right in front of this beautiful garden. It is landscaped with a variety of plants that attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. It also features several arbors. The picnic tables are near enough that you can watch all the activity while you enjoy lunch, and there’s usually a nice breeze off the water.

Nature Discovery Playground

Forget regular old playgrounds. In this nature-centered attraction, kids can climb inside a turtle shell, crawl through a “rotten” log, sit astride a large raccoon or climb a spider’s web. Come check it out!

Tours

The Baytown Nature Center encompasses more than 400 acres, and the man to guide you around is staff naturalist John Mason. With a degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University, he is well equipped to introduce you to the flora and fauna found in the nature center’s tidal marshes and uplands. Mason is well-versed not only on the wildlife of the nature center, but the background and cultural history as well.

Mason is available on request to give tours of the Baytown Nature Center to groups large or small. He can tailor a tour to your specific needs, in terms of how much time you’d like to spend and what exactly you’d like to see.

In addition, there are several volunteers and members of the Friends of the Baytown Nature Center who enjoy giving tours and are excellent guides.

Directions

The Baytown Nature Center is located off Bayway Drive in Baytown at 301 West Shreck. You can use the links at left to see a map, or follow the directions below:

From Houston via Interstate 10: Take the Interstate 10 East to Spur 330 (Decker) exit. It is the second exit after the San Jacinto River bridge, Turn right at the first traffic signal (Bayway Drive). Proceed south on Bayway for approximately 1 mile. The entrance to the Baytown Nature Center will be on right .

From Beaumont via Interstate 10: Take Interstate West, to the Highlands exit, cross over the Interstate and turn left. This will put you on Decker (Spur330). Then follow the above directions.

From Hwy. 225: Take Hwy 225 east to the Baytown exit. Cross the Fred Hartman Bridge and proceed on Hwy 146 (straight ahead) to the Spur 330 exit. Proceed to Baker Rd. It is the first traffic light after the freeway ends. Turn left. Baker will dead-end at Bayway Drive. Turn left and go approximately 1 mile. The entrance to the Baytown Nature Center will be on right .

For general information, call (281) 420-5360.

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