River Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3), was formed as a unique public/private partnership with the City of Arlington Parks and Recreation Department in 1988. The Foundation was started by a group of visionary citizens who saw the potential of a premier park in land donated to the city by descendants of the Gibbins family – Berta Rose Brown and Margaret Rose May. The initial 376 acres was boosted by additional land donations acquired from the Ryan Companies, Perry R. Bass and Texas Industries.
The Foundation secured grants and private donations to help the city begin the development of River Legacy Parks, with phase 1 opening in 1990 featuring trails, river overlooks, picnic areas and a playground. Today, River Legacy Parks is a 1,300-acre urban oasis following the curves of the Trinity River. The Parks’ ecological diversity of bottomland forest, wetlands and prairies provides abundant habitat for countless birds, fish, mammals and native plants. River Legacy Foundation continues to work hand-in-hand with the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department to provide funding for the preservation and expansion of River Legacy Parks.
Recognizing a need for an educational facility to ensure future stewards of the parkland, The Foundation began a Nuts About Nature capital campaign in 1995 to build a one-of-a-kind nature center. River Legacy Living Science Center opened to the public in 1996 featuring interactive exhibits, aquariums and terrariums with native animals, environmental education programs, a gift shop and nature trails.