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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.

The Big Disconnect

Prairie Notes: #80
August 1, 2013

1) The Big Disconnect
2) Field Notebook
3) Trout Lilies in July?
4) Bag It
5) Vote for Tandy Hills
6) No Hunting Allowed
7) Goodbye to John Graves
8) Prairie Proverb

1) The Big Disconnect

Over the years, the overarching message of these, now eighty, Prairie Notes has been simply this: "Come on in". Once you get to Tandy Hills, you begin to "Look Deeper", to observe the Horizontal Grandeur, to "Zone Out to Zone In" and to "Stay Tuned In" so that you can find your Mojo on the Meadow by smelling Le Parfum du Prairie and hearing the Message of the Milkweed. If you do all that you will naturally want to help us "Keep Keeping It Like It Was."

If you fail to do these things on a regular basis you will fall victim to The Big Disconnect. Being disconnected from the natural world is VERY bad for you the prairie and the planet. A disheartening example of the side-effects of The Big Disconnect was the recent decision by the State of Texas, General Land Office (GLO) to sell the 2,000 acres in southwest Fort Worth known as, Fort Worth Prairie Park. This very rare sister of Tandy Hills will now be buried under concrete for housing, shopping and parking.

There is no excuse for the shortsighted decision made by the GLO staffers though many excuses have been offered. They obviously suffer from Big Disconnect Syndrome. The GLO should be faulted for not doing more to save the land from "development." Doing their duty to make a "tidy profit" for the State is not good enough.

When Texas legislators want something bad enough they can make it happen. Something smells rotten and unjust about the way GLO handled this case. Despite the Herculean efforts of Great Plains Restoration Council to save and preserve the land, the greater good was not served.

So, consider these words of Edward Abbey as you put on your hiking boots and prepare to reconnect with Tandy Hills,

"It's not enough to fight for the land; it's even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here."


Reconnect with the natural world at Tandy Hills Natural Area to avoid the Big Disconnect.

2) Field Notebook

What a difference a bunch of rain makes to a prairie. Greater than average rainfall in July has the grasses and summer wildflowers looking more vigorous than they have since '08. Insects, birds and other wildlife seemed to be thriving, as well.

Avoid the heat and come see your amazing local prairie in the morning or evening. You will be rewarded. Here's a few pics of what crossed my path in July.

Way past prime bloom time, Yellow Flax was looking perky in early July.

White Prairie Clover, looking like cotton bolls in mid-July, is widely scattered across the Tandy hills.

Vast zones of Gayfeather create a comforting, almost church-like feel at certain times of day.

Stumbling upon a field of colorful, spiky Gayfeather in late evening is a soul-stirring experience.

Black Swallowtail Butterflies and their Yellow counterparts were a constant presence at Tandy Hills in July.

The State Grass of Texas, Side-oats Gramma, is coming on strong in late July at Tandy Hills.

Little Bluestem Grass at Tandy Hills is very healthy in late July.

Colorful grasshoppers horsing around atop a Saw-tooth Daisy at Tandy Hills.

A tangle of colorful Texas prairie is a beautiful thing in July.

Immature Coopers Hawk, looking for easy pickins in our backyard across from Tandy Hills.

3) Trout Lilies in July?

Two Fort Worth Public Art projects within a few blocks of Tandy Hills Natural Area were completed in July. Both artists were inspired by Tandy Hills and one of its signature wildflowers, the Trout Lily and are located on East Lancaster Avenue.

Regrowth, is the title of a work by Tommy Fitzpatrick. It is composed of three stainless steel panels for the Police Crime Lab building. The panels were laser-cut with organic forms and lyrical lines inspired by the tiny harbinger of Spring. Read more about this project HERE.

A few blocks away at the Fort Worth Bus Transfer Center, stands, Trout Lily Street Clock. created by artist, Jack Mackie. The striking and playful 16' tall, copper/green-colored steel sculpture functions as a working clock and a way-finding device. Read more about this project HERE.

by Tommy Fitzpatrick

Trout Lily Street Clock, by Jack Mackie

4) Bag It

If there is one thing that everybody seems to equally loathe it's plastic shopping bags flying around town where they often end up stuck in trees. I have removed plenty of them from Tandy Hills trees. A number of forward-thinking cities have banned these unnecessary and ubiquitous insults to nature. The City of Fort Worth should follow their lead.

The Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club is kicking off an initiative to pass a single use plastic bag ban in the Fort Worth by screening the award-winning documentary film, Bag It. The screening takes place August 21 at 7 pm at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden Center. Read more HERE.

5) Vote Here Now

Tandy Hills has another opportunity to win recognition and we need your vote. A family-friendly activity website called, Red Tricycle is sponsoring the Totally Awesome Awards for Family Hiking Trails in the DFW region. Tandy Hills, with its newly marked trails, variety of terrain and outdoor classroom is definitely worthy of this award.

Voting ends August 14. Please Vote for Tandy Hills HERE.

6) No Hunting Allowed

In case you don't know, hunting of wildlife at Tandy Hills is illegal. Unfortunately, someone using bows and arrows shot and killed cottontail rabbits at Tandy Hills in July. The City will be posting signs at the park to remind the public of what is surely obvious to most people.

7) Goodbye John Graves

Fort Worth, Texas born author, John Graves, knew his way around north Texas. A canoes trip he took on the Brazos River in the 1950's resulted in his classic book, Goodbye to a River. He also wrote, Hard Scrabble: Observations on a Patch of Land. Both books are highly recommended for anyone who cares about the natural world. Graves died July 31 at age 92.

Read his obit HERE. Read a Texas Monthly profile from August, 2010 HERE.

8) Prairie Proverb

"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."

Edward Abbey, from, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, 1968

Glory, by Chris Emory, at Tandy Hills Natural Area, 2012

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. All photographs by Don Young except where otherwise noted.

Don Young