Fort Worth

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation honors Lee and Ramona Bass

Fort Worth philanthropists Lee and Ramona Bass will be honored for their decades of service and advocacy Thursday when they are inducted into the Texas Conservation Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Fort Worth Zoo.

The couple “exemplify the best in Texas conservation and philanthropy,” said Mike Greene, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s board of trustees.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized by Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation whose efforts have been so important to the wild things and wild places of Texas,” the Basses said in a written statement. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with them on so many critical conservation projects for our great state, both now and in the future.”

Fort Worth and the rest of Texas should be thrilled about the union, too.

“Their partnership has had an untold and lasting impact on our wild things and wild places,” Greene said in press release. “They are committed to conservation on their home ground and around the world. We are honored to recognize them.”

Fort Worth owes a great deal of credit for the success of its zoo — recognized as one of the nation’s top five zoos — to Ramona Bass, according to the press release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

Over the course of three decades she has been the driving force behind the zoo’s privatization and has channeled her commitment to critical conservation programs — through her position as chairwoman of the Fort Worth Zoological Association’s board of directors — into such quests as native horned lizard (horny toad) propagation and translocation in Texas to international black rhino breeding programs, the release said.

She has been vice chairwoman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Outreach and Education Advisory Committee, a member of the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Commission, and was recognized by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas with its International Award of Excellence in Conservation.

Lee Bass served six years on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission before becoming its chairman. He remains chairman emeritus of that commission, as well as chairman emeritus of The Peregrine Fund, and a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, the release said. These days, he serves as chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife White-Tailed Deer Advisory Committee, the release said.

The Basses helped found the Texas Native Seeds Program, have been highly involved in the University of Texas at Austin Biodiversity Center, and have been handy in the effort to reintroduce the Aplomado falcon to South Texas, the release said.

“I can’t think of a couple that has had a longer and more substantial impact on wildlife conservation and private land stewardship in Texas than Lee and Ramona Bass,” said Ralph Duggins, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. “They are an extraordinary team and have devoted a significant part of their lives to conservation.”

The Basses invest in myriad Texas Parks and Wildlife projects, like the Kerr Wildlife Management Area and the Game Warden Training Center, research at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area after devastating wildfires, and most recently, restoring Coastal Fisheries facilities and equipment following Hurricane Harvey, the release said.

The Texas Conservation Hall of Fame dinner is sold out.