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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.

Energy + Plan = Action

Prairie Notes #95
November 2, 2014

01) Energy + Plan = Action

02) Field Notebook

03) KOP Wrap

04) 10 Years in 30 Minutes

05) And the Winner is...Us!

06) Happy Trails for You

07) Sunset Hike Dawns on THNA

08) Noteworthy News

09) Prairie Proverb


01) Energy + Plan = Action

The energy level surrounding Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area this Fall is downright electrifying. Volunteers are scrambling to plan, prepare and improve events such as Prairie Fest, Kids on the Prairie, Sunset Hikes, Trout Lily Walks, Manly Men Wild Women Hikes and more. Thanks to these events, public use of  the park has increased dramatically. Awards and recognition have followed for which we are grateful.

But we never forget the biggest task of our organization: Full enactment of the Strategic Master Plan for Tandy Hills. Thanks to the high energy level we have created, that plan is now on the verge of leaping forward in a big way. The document adopted by the City of FW PACS in 2008 calls for things like Outdoor Classrooms (one in place and one more coming in December), a re-designed trail system (see #06 below) a Visitors Center (on the dream list) and management of exotic and invasive woody species.

Ah, there's the rub. The biggest challenge is keeping the prairie a prairie. Kids on the Privet just won't do. Our annual Brush Bash has been our sole way of managing the prairie since 2009. That's a good way to engage volunteers, yes, but results of that tremendous effort have been modest at best. The privet and other undesirable woodies are winning. So far.

Tandy Hills desperately needs a specific plan and a near-term timeline for controlled burns. We need more aggressive, more frequent brush bashing. The time to ratchet up restoration in accordance with the Master Plan, is nigh. We need all of the Friends of Tandy Hills to support of our efforts to get the MP on a fast track.

Hang onto your hiking boots. Exciting and dramatic changes being driven by the success and energy of Friends of Tandy Hills are coming soon to your local prairie. 


Energy + Plan = Action 

02) Field Notebook

Despite a continuing regional drought, Tandy Hills did receive several inches of rainfall in early October, helping the seeps dole out moisture in a few key locations. The prairie plants have responded with a pretty good Fall show, thus far. Reportedly, other places such as the FW Nature Center & Refuge have not been as lucky rain-wise.

The Indian Summer weather of late October has drawn an increasing number of hikers who witnessed a healthier than new-normal Monarch migration and a vibrant array of Fall grasses. Three varieties of Aster, native to Tandy Hills and Maximilian Sunflower came on strong in late October adding a touch of color to the grassy landscape. Most exciting was the discovery of the first, Nodding Ladies Tresses Orchid of the season. 

Wildlife report: The skies were filled with Hawks, Crows, Owls, Meadowlarks and other Fall visitors. Finally, the park was crawling with hundreds of bipeds both great and small in October. See, Kids on the Prairie and Trail Workshop below. 

Heath Aster, one of three varieties of Aster at Tandy Hills 

Sky Drop Aster 

Maximilian Sunflower 

Nodding Ladies Tresses Orchid 

Beautiful things happen at Kids on the Prairie. photo by Megan Clawson 


03) KOP Wrap

The 7th class of Kids on the Prairie is a successful wrap. Friends of Tandy Hills hosted 128 enthusiastic 4th graders from Meadowbrook Elementary School over two days in October. They learned the definition of a prairie and the importance of the natural world to a healthy city and planet. 

Thanks again to our distinguished partners: Cross Timbers Master Naturalists, Fort Worth ISD,FW Nature Center & Refuge, City of Fort Worth PACS, Fash Foundation, Fort Worth Audubon Society and hundreds of individual memberships and donations through FOTHNA and Prairie Fest.

128 kids over a two-day period were immersed in the natural world of Tandy Hills. 

Debora & Don Young (l) pose with Master Naturalists and FWISD reps at the end of KOP's seventh season.   

During lunch, Kids on the Prairie get an in-dpeth lesson in recycling. More than 72 pounds of material was collected.  

04) 10 Years in 30 Minutes

Whew! That was fast! Don & Debora Young delivered a presentation to the Fort Worth Chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas on the topic of the 10 year history of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. About 40 people showed up for the unvarnished story. The Powerpoint presentation titled after a poem by Mary Oliver, will soon be available for viewing as a video on the FOTHNA website.


05) And the Winner is...Us!

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area was honored to accept the Native Star Award from the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) at their annual conference awards banquet in Texarkana on October 18. The award is given "to an organization for a specific act of conservation or public service in the field of native Texas plants."!

The award recognizes our Kids on the Prairie program. KOP Director, Anne Alderfer accepted the award on behalf of FOTHNA. Our trophy case is growing thanks to the work and expertise of some of the busiest and most talented volunteers in Texas! 

Read about all the NPSOT winners HERE:

The first ever Native Star Award goes to FOTHNA.

KOP Director Anne Alderfer (third from left) receives the award on behalf of FOTHNA. 

06) Happy Trails for You

A healthy trail is a happy trail. The Master Plan for Tandy Hills calls for a restoration of the trail system. The idea is to create a more sustainable trail system and close trails that encourage erosion. The makeover began on October 22nd when S&S Trails of Austin began carving a beautiful new user friendly trail just west of the Hawk trail from the trailhead all the way to I-30.

The result of the weeklong effort are breathtaking. I encourage you to take a look ASAP. Thanks to City of FW PACS including Jerry McDowell and Suzanne Tuttle but especially Michelle Villafranca for getting the job done on the ground. We plan to have S&S Trails back in 2015 to overhaul another section of trails. Volunteers will be asked to help out. 


Ryan Spates of S&S Trails becomes one with the little machine that cuts trails out of the prairie.


Michelle Villafranca directs volunteers in trail closure efforts for PACS. 

The trail slope is designed to not exceed 15 degrees. 


Olive the Prairie Dog approves of the new trail. 


The new trail winds gracefully through the prairie and woodland. 


Fall is a great time to visit the new trail.

07) Sunset Hike Dawns on THNA

The Fort Worth Chapter of native Prairies Association of Texas sponsored the inaugural Sunset Hike at Tandy Hills on October 25. Don & Debora Young led about 20 hikers on a 1-hour trip around the park ending on the brand new trail near sunset. 

I call in inaugural because it will be an annual October event, henceforth. Thanks to Jo Ann Thomas Collins, John Tandy, Kyle Amato and Kim Clemons from FW-NPAT for their support. 

Watch that slippery slope! 

Sunset hikers take a break at Outdoor Classroom #1. 

08) Noteworthy News

Two events happening in November are worthy of your attention:

> A loose coalition of like-minded are presenting the inaugural, Texas Pollinator PowWow, on Saturday, November 15, 2014 in Mansfield. Among presenters is recent FW immigrant, Anne Stine, she of her blog, The Bee Pasture and The Xerces Society. Looks to be an important and educational event.


Get full details HERE:

> Also on November 15 is the inaugural Harvest Festival spearheaded by Kyle Amato of Community Cultivators, It takes place at the Westside Community Garden in Fort Worth. Check out the Facebook page HERE:

> Native American Seed recently published their Fall 2014 seed catalog. Titled, Responsible Beauty, it's chock full of useful info, seeds, tools and books, including Debora Young's, Prairie Wildflowers Illustrated (p. 96).
Check it out HERE.

> If you haven't yet subscribed to Texas Field Notes, you are missing one of the better journals on wildlife and wild places in Texas. Subscribe here to get the latest issue and see previous:


> The same folks are part of the Crosstimbers Connection based in Arlington:

09) Prairie Proverb

"Happy trails to you, until we meet again.Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.Who cares about the clouds when we're together?Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.Happy trails to you, 'til we meet again."

From the Roy Rogers TV show, music & lyrics by Dale Evans Rogers, (1952)

Sing along with Dale & Roy HERE: 

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.