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Endangered science collection moves to North Texas

The specimens are from a vast natural history collection that had been stored at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

They say life is more about the journey than the destination. For the contents inside an ice-cold semi-truck parked off University Drive in Fort Worth, the destination is really what matters here.

Tucked tightly inside olive-green file cabinets are hundreds of thousands of plant specimens that have found a new home at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, or BRIT.

It's a much more positive outcome than the alternative.

Back in March, the University of Louisiana at Monroe announced, amidst criticism, it would no longer be able to house its massive natural history collection. If relocation wasn't possible, the specimens would be thrown out.

What would be lost in discarding a collection like this, WFAA asked Peter Fritsch, herbarium director at BRIT?

“Just priceless information,” he responds.

BRIT stepped up and adopted the 475,000 orphaned specimens, representing 99 percent of Louisiana’s plant species. Fritsch says trucks, kept at 20 degrees below zero, transported and housed this installation of the plant until Tuesday, moving day.

“We’re excited to be able to protect these collections and know they’ll continue to be able to be used,” Fritsch says.

BRIT isn't the only North Texas facility receiving part of the university's science collection. Some of it landed at the University of Texas at Arlington, too.

ULM’s amphibian and reptile collection, 50,000-specimens strong, has now taken up residence at UTA’s Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center.

“So that'll put us well over 200,000 [specimens], which makes us the largest collection of its kind in Texas and really one of the largest in the world,” says Dr. Jon Campbell of UTA.

For the facilities that saved these collections, they’re not just frogs and flowers. It’s irreplaceable data that will feed our curiosity for generations to come.

The collections will be open to the public.