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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Power to the Prairie People

Prairie Notes: #92
July 31, 2014
  1. Power to the Prairie People
  2. Field Notebook
  3. FYI: NPAT in FW, TX
  4. The Bee Pasture
  5. You MUST Remember This
  6. "A" is for Ant & Ann B. Mayo
  7. Running Wild
  8. The Prairie Ecologist
  9. Last Child in the Wood?...Not!
  10. Worth Repeating
  11. Burning Passion
  12. Prairie Proverb

 

01) Power to the Prairie People

---> Note: Prairie Notes #92 was completed just hours before learning about the new Fort Worth Weekly report, Burning Passion, that covers similar ground as this newsletter. The Weekly cover story (see #11 below) reinforces my contention that a prairie renaissance is happening in north TX.

Back in May I predicted that 2014 was shaping up to be the Year of the Prairie in north Texas. Three months later that forecast is holding up as you will read in the reports below. More people than ever before and from various disciplines are helping spread the word about what our diminishing native habitat is and the importance of saving what's left.

It is very encouraging that the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) has established a new chapter in Fort Worth for prairie people to come together and compare notes, plan strategy and hopefully help save some prairie remnants. This is vitally important. While the future looks promising, much of the remaining prairie land in our area along with their plants and wildlife is either at great risk or already gone. Here's three notable examples: 

  • The last remaining native prairie in Richardson, Beck's Creek Tall Grass Prairie & Springs, is in serious danger of being sold to developers.
  • Prairie Park in southwest Fort Worth already compromised by highways, pipelines and gas wells was recently sold to a Canadian developer
  • A small but botanically rich native prairie remnant near TCU was "scraped clean" in June. 

This full-scale assault on our environment / home must be met with creative resistance. Longtime residents of north Texas, especially since the advent of the Barnett Shale, are particularly vulnerable to "learned helplessness." But whether you call yourself, prairie people, prairie advocates or prairie keepers, larger numbers of you with greater passion and persistence are needed to slow the ecological losses to our community. 

One north Texan is willing to raise a ruckus to help stop the assault on the natural world. Read the Green Source DFW report here:

http://greensourcedfw.org/articles/former-north-texan-activist-says-more...

 

DY

 

02) Field Notebook

Mucha lluvia en la pradera, continued in mid-July. The petrichor released into the warm air after the first raindrops met the dry prairie Earth was a pleasantly primal aroma. Fall-ish temps followed making Tandy Hills more than tolerable. As a result, the grasses that are normally gold/brown about now are green-ish as of July 31. 

There are bits of bright color here and there, the usual early Summer suspects and some Fall early birds, as you can see in my pics below. The tips of Gayfeather (Laitris sp.) are starting to purple up and will do so until October, if all goes normal. Most exciting was discovering a new prairie plant I had never seen at Tandy Hills: Linearleaf Four O'clock (Mirabilis linearis). See pics below.

Wildlife in July was dominated by swarms of grasshoppers, more than usual. Bees, wasps, moths and butterflies harvesting pollen, pollinating and laying eggs are ubiquitous in the Summer heat. Hummingbirds and Hawks were sighted in the area in July.

Here's a few pics of what crossed my path at Tandy Hills during the month of July.

 

A healthy stand of Silver Bluestem waves in the summer breeze at Tandy Hills 

American Basketflower, still shedding its Spring seed, is fading while Little Bluestem grass is coming on vigorously. 

The pale greens and purples of Eryngo and Little Bluestem compliment each other nicely on the prairie hills.

White Prairie Clover is having an exceptional year at Tandy Hills. It looks like Busy Bee International Airport out here. 

Summer blooming Gay-Feather (Liatris aestivalis) is starting to purple up the prairie.

Common but no less attractive, Sawleaf Daisy is one of the few yellows blooming in July. 

There is a special corner of Tandy Hills where Swallowtails and Gay-Feather commune in silence.

I was lucky enough to observe their symbiotic dance in late July. 

Grasshoppers are ubiquitous this Summer. I captured these two are horsing around on a Sawleaf Daisy

After all these years, a new discovery for me at Tandy Hills. Linearleaf Four O'clock (Mirabilis linearis). 

 

03) FYI: NPAT in FW, TX

Just weeks after its first state conference in Fort Worth, the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) has established a new chapter here. An impressive crowd of about 45 people attended the kick off meeting on July 14. The first official meeting will take place on August 11 at 6:30 p.m. Get your details here:

http://texasprairie.org/index.php/news_and_events/

 

04) The Bee Pasture

Along with a new NPAT chapter, Fort Worth is now home to Anne Stine. Anne works for the Xerces Society with the unwieldy title of, the Central Region's Pollinator Conservation Specialist and NRCS Partner Biologist. (Many of us didn't even know such a place existed in FW.) 

Prior to moving here last April, Anne worked for the Nature Conservancy in Nebraska as a Hubbard Conservation Fellow. (see #8 below) She has a Master of Science degree from Duke in Environmental Science and has a particular interest in prairies. 

I discovered Anne through her lovely, informative and poetically named blog, The Bee Pasture, where she posts short essays with photos on natural history. It is through her blog that I first learned of the prairie remnant in TCU that was bulldozed last May. I urge you to subscribe to her blog. Welcome to Fort Worth and Tandy Hills, Anne!

Check out Anne's blog post from June 30th, a newcomers perspective of Tandy Hills.

http://thebeepasture.blogspot.com/2014/06/early-summer-flowers-in-tandy-...

Anne Stine and her friend, Colby are welcome additions to the north Texas community.

 

05) You MUST Remember This

North Texas Giving Day is coming up on September 18. This will be the first time that Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area has participated in this one-day event. Watch for gentle reminders from some locally famous people and others that may surprise you. Why....here's one now...

Ilsa: "But what about us, Rick?"

Rick: "We'll always have Tandy Hills."

Bogie has it right. We'll always have Tandy Hills but it won't be like it was without your donations to Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. Please support our environmental education and conservation programs on North Texas Giving Day, September 18. 

 

06) "A" is for Ant & Ann B. Mayo

One can't help but use the word "ant" and "Ann B. Mayo" in the same sentence. Ann is one of our favorite Prairie People, a longtime FOTHNA member and local treasure. She is an ecologist with a specialty in Comanche harvester ants. Check out a profile of Ann in the current newsletter from the Society for Ecological Restoration, Texas Chapter (TXSER) See page 2.:

http://chapter.ser.org/texas/files/2014/07/Restoration-Update-July-2014-...

 

 

07) Running Wild

Green Source DFW is hosting a 5K run/walk on October 11 at Cedar Hill State Park. Participants will enjoy the scenic 1800-acre wooded preserve overlooking Joe Pool Lake. Proceeds support the GSDFW non-profit mission of advancing the environmental movement in north Texas. Learn more and register early here:

http://greensourcedfw.org/articles/memnosyne-institute-host-inaugural-gr...

 

 

08) The Prairie Ecologist

I recently discovered the wonderful website of Chris Helzer, The Prairie Ecologist. Chris is the resident ecologist and program director for The Nature Conservancy. He's responsible for the management and restoration of about 5000 acres of Conservancy-owned land in Nebraska, including prairie management and restoration. He is also an excellent essayist and photographer. Check out and subscribe to his website here:

http://prairieecologist.com/

 

BTW: Anne Stine of The Bee Pasture mentioned above recently finished a one-year program working with Chris in Nebraska.

 

 

 

09) Last Child in the Wood?...Not!

Yet another local hero of the environment is Dawn Hancock. Dawn volunteered for years at Prairie Fest and Brush Bash. She is Vice-president of Education for the Native Plant Society of Texas (NT Chapter). Dawn penned a lovely report on two local programs that connect children with the natural world in the Summer 2014 NPSOT newsletter.

While our Kids on the Prairie (KOP) program at Tandy Hills has been an enormous success, the kids programs at Prairie Fest are sometimes overlooked. After years of searching for the right approach, the Prairie Fest team found Heather Foote whose innovative children's hikes have been a highlight of Prairie Fest since 2012. 

Check out Dawn's report here:

http://npsot.org/wp/story/2014/6029/

10) Worth Repeating

An important message from Prairie Fest co-director, Jen Schultes:

Hiya prairie folks! We here at FOTHNA HQ are dedicated to bringing prairie to the people and people to the prairie. Please take 1 minute to tell us how we are doing, how else we might serve you and how you might get involved. The link below will direct you to a brief survey. We thank you!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7SKKVJM 

 

11) Burning Passion

"The prairie is in Fort Worth's DNA, and environmentalists are fighting to preserve it." So reads the cover blurb for this Fort Worth Weekly report that reinforces the main subject of this Prairie Notes. Highly recommended.

http://www.fwweekly.com/2014/07/30/burning-passion/

 

 

12) Prairie Proverb

"The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders."

Edward Abbey, from The Journey Home,1977

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.

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