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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.

How Sweet It Was

Prairie Notes #120
December 1, 2016

1) How Sweet It Was
2) Field Report - November
3) Manly Men Wild Women RSVP
4) PrairieSky / StarParty 2017 Schedule
5) Hats Off to Dan Lepinski!
6) When You Shop @ Amazon...
7) Annual Board Meeting
8) Prairie Proverb

1) How Sweet It Was

Last year at this time I was declaring to you my excitement and concern about a new event Friends of Tandy Hills were going to co-host and co-organize: The Tandy Hills BioBlitz. Boy, was that an understatement. The BioBlitz was, indeed, a biological behemoth, a circus of chaos into uncharted territory and, most certainly, a great learning experience for our talented team of dedicated volunteers. It was also a resounding triumph in a triumphant year for Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. 

As itemized below, 2016 was, indeed, a very productive year of restoring, interpreting and raising awareness of our local prairie. Your support is VITAL as we move ahead in 2017.

  • The Tandy Hills BioBlitz was a success on many levels, especially our collaboration with other groups and organizations

  • Friends of Tandy Hills secured a, Mayor's Monarch Pledge, from FW Mayor Betsy Price

  • The 7th annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills drew another large crowd of newcomers

  • Brush Bash #8 brought out the best in our crew of volunteers who cleared the trailhead area

  • Explore Texas: A Nature Travel Guide was published featuring a section on Tandy Hills

  • REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) presented Friends of Tandy Hills with a $5,000 Trails Improvement and Stewardship grant

  • Our much-revered outdoor education program, Kids on the Prairie (KOP), notched year #6

  • The FASH Foundation awarded Friends of Tandy Hills a grant of $2,000 dedicated to KOP

  • Mothing 'til Midnight with Sam Kieschnick made it's debut in 2016

  • PrairieSky / StarParty, a collaboration with FW Astronomical Society, made its debut

  • The Tandy Hills iNaturalist Project website page exploded with observations

  • The FW Weekly published a cover story titled, Fine and Tandy

  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. (TP&WD) designated Tandy HIlls part of the Great Texas Wildlife Trails

  • In a small but significant act, FW Park & Recreation Dept. installed a water fountain and permanent outdoor restroom at Tandy Hills

  • The FW Chapter of American Institute of Architects announced the Tandy Hills Pavilion Design Competition

  • A Trail System Master Plan for Tandy Hills was created by, S&S Trails, with funding from REI

  • Prairie Posse, a monthly land management program made its debut in 2016

  • Friends of Tandy Hills hosted the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz with TP&WD

  • A 20 minute documentary film and a Biological Inventory report on the Tandy Hills BioBlitz were published

  • The Native Star Award 2016 was presented to Friends of Tandy Hills by the Native Plant Society of Texas


Our sweet success in 2016 was tempered by the sad loss this year of, Jim Varnum, a dear Friend of Tandy Hills Natural Area. I'm sure Jim would agree that the Tandy Hills prairie itself, our raison d'être, had another amazing year, manifesting its bounty of prairie flora and fauna for all to behold and appreciate. Come on in.


An autumn/winter hike at Tandy Hills is a good way to spend an hour of your one, wild life.

2) Field Report - November

Not much to report on the ground in November. Most of the action was in the sky. That is, unless you count human activity which was significant last month. Tandy Hills has become a magnet for local wedding and family portrait photographers. We may need a traffic light out there soon. Otherwise, the hills are filled with fading grasses, turning autumn leaves, amazing sunsets and a big fat super moon on 11/14.

Get yourself outside in the cool open air and see what it's really all about, Alfie.

The so-called, supermoon of November was called the Beaver Moon by colonials and native peoples.

This arresting sight greeted us as we topped a hill on an autumn hike at Tandy Hills.

Yet another flaming sunset ends a chilly autumn day.

Possumhaw berries are starting to appear.

Little Bluestem grasses have reached their highest potential for 2016.

Hiking the Sunset Trail can restart your day.

The color of bottomland Oak tree leaves have replaced that of the wildflowers for now.

> Watch a relaxing 30 second video of the Tandy Hills Autumn Oaks HERE:

3) Manly Men Wild Women - RSVP

Gear up, you old muckers. It's time for a new year and a new you at the 8th annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills. This New Years Day event is not for sissies. (Rain is the only exception.) We hike the approximate boundaries of the 160-acre natural area which includes a lot of hills. Be prepared. All ages and leashed dogs welcome. Arrive at 10 a.m. sharp.

Read more here:

Willd men and manly women of 2016.

4) PrairieSky / StarParty 2017 Schedule

The sky-watching parties have ended for 2016 and will resume on Saturday, March 11, 2017 and successive second Saturday's throughout the year. Be watching for special side-events to thrill, inspire and amaze you and yours.

The November event was made extra special with Twice Upon a Time Storytellers telling tales of magical beats in the stars and a nice squaw fire.

FOTHNA volunteer, Debora Young preparing hot chocolate for our sky-watching guests.

A November chill is nice if you have some fire handy.

Gene and Peggy Helmick-Richardson brought tall tales to life.

5) Hats Off to Our Man, Dan Lepinski!

Dan Lepinski, the go-to guy for solar power at all FOTHNA events since 2007, was recently awarded the 2016 Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Award for Nonprofit Professional. Besides supplying clean, non-polluting solar power for free or very cheap, Dan has also been a mild-mannered evangelist for the solar industry going on 40 years, now.

His heroic efforts in 2015 to help overturn a strict solar ordinance in North Richland Hills, TX, is a testament to his passion for making the world a better place. Our hats are off to you, Mr. Lepinski.

Photo courtesy of North Texas Renewable Energy Group.

6) When You Shop @ Amazon...

> When you shop at Amazon for holiday gifts or, anytime, remember to use the Amazon Smile link for Friends of Tandy Hills and Amazon will donate a small percentage of your sales purchase to support conservation and outdoor education programs at Tandy Hills. But you must REMEMBER to use this > LINK. Thanks a mil!

7) Annual General Meeting

The annual general meeting to elect FOTHNA Board members for 2017, will take place at noon on December 18, 2016. The meeting location will be 3408 View Street, the home of Greg & Mary Kay Hughes. A slate of officers has been nominated. All paid members and committe chairs are elgible to make additional nominations, and vote, at the meeting.

8) Prairie Proverb

“Our imagination is struck only by what is great; but the lover of natural philosophy should reflect equally on little things.” 

- Alexander von Humboldt, 1769 - 1859

(Prussian geographer, explorer, and naturalist, Humboldt's visionary understanding of nature’s interconnectedness sparked the basic ecological awareness that gave rise to the environmental movement. With this insight, he invented the web of life concept of nature as we know it today.) 

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.