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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.

A Lasting Legacy (Hot Diggity Dog!)

Prairie Notes #159
March 1, 2020

01) A Lasting Legacy (Hot Diggity Dog!)
02) Field Report - February
03) Membership Matters 51-acres More Than Ever
04) New Species - February
05) Trout Lily Walk & Prairie Posse Reports
06) Amon Carter Exhibition
07) PrairieSky / StarPrairie is Back
08) Texas Highways Loves Tandy Hills
09) Greensource DFW Report
10) Prairie Proverb - Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price
 

01) A Lasting Legacy (Hot Diggity Dog!)

 

I first started to get excited in late December 2019 when I first heard about the City of Fort Worth's new, Open Space Acquisitions program. After watching the City Council work session video, I could tell they were serious. District 8 Rep, Kelly Allen Gray, actually proposed that Broadcast Hill property be high on the list for consideration. Seizing the moment, I wrote a letter to Mayor Betsy Price and other council members.

 

Sensing that this could be our big chance, I reached out to Friends of Tandy Hills board member, Jim Marshall. Together we quickly put together a Call to Action aimed at getting the ear of the City. By mid-January we had alerted the 1200 people on the Tandy Hills email list, requesting they, too, send letters to Mayor and Council. Facebook posts followed along with timely reminders. Key endorsements were received from like-minded organizations 

 

Jim Marshall came up with the brilliant idea of asking people to pledge to buy 1-acre as another way of getting the City's attention. He divided the selling price of $700K by the number of acres, 51, which came out to $13,725 per acre. Friends of Tandy Hills pledged the first acre. Three more very generous people joined us. Board member, Heather Foote had the idea of a pledge to protect 1 species. That netted 10 quick pledges of $583 each. Other significant pledges came in. We were on a roll. In just six weeks we had pledges totalling nearly $63,000.

 

Two timely media reports were enormously helpful. (See #'s 8 & 9 below) I had received no contact from the City but I dutifully reported our progress and intentions to the Mayor every couple of weeks. Then, last week, little hints started flowing from various city officials. The Park & Rec Dept. contacted me with odd questions as did my Councilwoman's assistant and the Asst. City manager. Hmmm...something's afoot here. When the Mayor's personal assistant called me a few days before the Mayor's State of the City address, requesting photos of Tandy Hills, I knew the deal was done. 

 

I tuned in to the Mayor's LIVE address on February 28. At exactly 12:40 p.m. she said it out loud in her folksy twang.

 

"The City has purchased Broadcast Hill."

 

There was polite applause in the room full of Chamber of Commerce-types who had just dined. A distant whoop and holler turned some heads. The mayor thanked Friends of Tandy Hills and others involved. She commented that she had received maybe 300 letters, and she went on to her next topic. Me? I took a screenshot, capturing the moment and walked outside to gaze at the big tower on the hill, imagining how sweet it will be when City Council takes a ceremonial vote next Tuesday to formally complete the deal. On that day, Tandy Hills Natural Area will grow to 211-acres, making it one of the largest urban natural areas in the country. 

 

Your supporting letters sent to the Mayor and Council urging them to act swiftly in acquiring Broadcast Hill, made a difference. The nearly $63,000 raised by our campaign in just 6 weeks, more than 10% of the final selling price, was HUGE in getting the City's attention. The endorsements from our friends made a difference. Enjoy your sweet reward.

 

 

DY

 

 

 

 

The credit for this major milestone belong to many. The following Friends of Tandy Hills deserve special thanks:

 

Anonymous, Arlington Conservation Council, Ellen Austin, Corinna Benson, Kim & Ray Conrow, Gary & Michele Douglas, Heather & Mike Foote, Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, Fonda Fox, Jerry & Suzanne Halbert, Shayna Johnson, Julie & Tracy Maxwell, Dr. G.W. & Karlee Marcom, Dr. P.K. Marcom & Family, Jim Marshall, Roberta Marshall, Wendy & Paul Roach, Dick Schoech, Tommy & Linda Simmons, Valerie Taber, Suzanne Tuttle, Tarrant Coalition for Environmental Awareness, Leslie Thompson, Lori Whitworth, and Elsa Zamarippa.

 

Our Call to Action Endorsing Organizations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02) Field Report - February

 

The winter landscape is very slowly shifting to spring. The usual late winter suspects, Trout Lily, Wedge Leaf Whitlow-Grass, Big Root and handful of other spring wildflowers are starting to appear. It won't be long before the sweeping magical meadows are swallowing up the trails and pollinators fill the sky. Note to commercial photographers: Be prepared for a Zero Tolerance policy of despoiling our meadows in 2020. Come on in, but stay on trail!

 


Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana) peeking out of the, otherwise, grey winter landscape.

 


Trout Lily flowers are dotting secret places under the Oak trees.

 


They look fetching from all angles.

 


Star Milkvine (Matela biflora) seed pods have begun their spring explosion.

 


You can spot them by the trails of seeds they spread across the meadows.

 

An ealy morning nor'wester darkened the western sky on February 26 as it blew across the prairie.

 


Wedge Leaf Whitlow-Grass (Draba cuneifolia) is another harbinger of spring.

 


The distinctive foliage of Purple Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) is popping up all over Tandy HIlls.

 


The FW Park & Rec Dept. recently installed a new round of barrier boulders on the west end leaving a path for photo posing.

 


There will be Zero Tolerance for commercial photographers who go off-trail in 2020. New signs and trail markers will be posted soon.

 


Nothing but blue sky do I see for Tandy Hills from now on.

 

 

03) Membership Matters 51-acres More Than Ever

 

With the addition of 51 acres, our land management reposnsibilities have grown. Your donations are VITAL to our habitat restoration and educational programs. They help pay for improved trails, signage and keep Tandy Hills in the public eye. Thank you!

 

Become a Friend here: https://www.tandyhills.org/donate

 

 

04) New Species - February

 

There were at least five new species recorded during February bringing the cuurent count to 1269. A new millipede, centipede, grass, bug and a warbler were ID'd. Check them out below and check out the Tandy HIlls iNaturalist Project page, HERE:

 

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tandy-hills-natural-area-stratford-...

 

Round-backed Millipede (Order Julida) Photo and ID by, Kathryn Wells

 

Brown Centipede  (Lithobius forficatus) Photo and ID by Brent Franklin

 

Bushy Bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) Photo and ID by, Bob O’Kennon

 

Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria) Photo and ID by, Katie Collins

 

Orange-crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata) Photo and ID by, Brent Franklin

 

05) Trout Lily Walk & Prairie Posse Reports

 

28 delightful people turned out on Feb. 22 for the Trout Lily Walk at Tandy Hills. Sam Kieschnick led the way, and was at the top of his game enlightening, educating and entertaining on a variety of species. A good time was had by all.

 

On Feb 15, the magnificent and very old, Bois D'arc tree of Tandy Hills, was fully liberated by the Prairie Posse. Eleven hard working volunteers cleared a mountain of privet and brush away from the recently discovered tree, exposing it for the first time in many decades. HUGE thanks to all the vols who showed up and worked hard! Here's to Coffee Folk, whose generosity helped the Posse do what had to be done.

 


28 Trout Lily aficionados snuggling to stay warm on February 22.

 

Sam Kieschnick showed us the magic in both, common species as well as the tantalizing, Trout Lily.

 

Getting the lay of the land at a 30 degree angle.

 


The reason for the madness is this tiny trumpet. Also known as, Fawn Lily, Its leaves can evoke Speckled Trout skin or Fawn ears.

 

On February 15, a dozen heroes gave 100% for 3 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mission accomplished. This old Bois D'arc tree, looking like a relic from Middle Earth, was liberated form a Privet prison.

 

06) Amon Carter Museum Exhibition

 

A few months ago I told you about artist, Mark Dion's exhibition coming to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and how the museum had asked folks who visit Tandy Hills to participate. People visiting Tandy Hills had the opportunity to grab a blank postcard from the little box installed at the park entrance and create a drawing or narrative describing their  own adventure at Tandy Hills. Then, mail the card to the museum, much like Mark Dion did on his Texas travels.  

 

Well... the exhibit is now open and it's a natural history marvel to behold. Yes, the postcards are on display but the show itself is highly entertaining and educational, and it's free. 

 

BREAKING: The Amon Carter is hosting a special, Mark Dion exhibition event for all ages, on March 7. Check out the flier below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07) PrairieSky / StarParty is Back

 

I am pleased to announce the 2020 season of PrairieSky / StarParty at Tandy Hills. The Fort Worth Astronomical Society is back for a 5th straight year of star-gazing on the prairie. Dates and details here: https://www.tandyhills.org/events/prairie-sky-star-party

 

FWAS spokesperson, Pam Kloepfer, describes what you can expect to see at the March 28 event:

 

"Even though March heralds the arrival of Spring, the Winter constellations will still be visible in our western sky. Look for the three stars in Orion’s belt and the Pleiades star cluster as they head west. Overhead, the Great Bear - also known as the Big Dipper - will be in view. The two pointer stars of the bowl of the dipper point to the North Star. Also overhead, look for Leo The Lion. You can find Leo by spotting an asterism, a group of stars, known as The Sickle. It resembles a backwards question mark, with the bright star Regulus at the bottom. Dazzling Venus will be in the western sky this month, and the Moon will be a waxing crescent on March 28."

 

 

 

08) Texas Highways Loves Tandy Hills

 

WOWZA! The March 2020 issue of Texas Highways magazine has a special section on the wildflowers of Texas. Guess who made page 1 and three other pages? The ICONIC Meadow of Tandy Hills is prominently pictured as are our amazing Purple Paintbrush population. Tandy Hills is featured on 5 pages of a 15 page article covering the wildflowers of the entire state. The timing of this article with our campaign to save Broadcast Hill reflected a convergence of good things happening at Tandy Hills. The best is yet to come. Read the article HERE:

 

https://texashighways.com/wildflowers/discover-natural-beauty-iconic-tex...

 

 

09) Greensource DFW Report

 

Our Broadcast Hill: Call to Action received attention from DFW Greensource with a timely report by John Kent. He covered all the bases with flair and helped widen public awareness of our, ultimately successful campaign. Special kudos to Scott Ausburn for taking the photos on the hill. Read the report HERE:

 

https://www.greensourcedfw.org/…/prairie-advocates-race-sav…

 

 

10) Prairie Proverb - Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price

 

"Fort Worth loses 50 acres of natural space a week to development...We are now identifying and protecting quality open space. You are all familiar with the old Channel 5 up on the hill and the beautiful prairie below it? The City has purchased Broadcast Hill."

 

Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price, announcing the land acquisition during the annual, State of the City address on February 28, 2020

 

 

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.