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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.

Prairie Personhood

Prairie Notes #117
September 1, 2016

1) Prairie Personhood
2) Field Report - August
3) Giving Day is Nigh
4) Texas Pollinator BioBlitz
5) FOTHNA Origins: Circa 2005
6) Moths & Stars & More
7) Going Shopping?
8) Prairie Proverb

1) Prairie Personhood

Should Tandy Hills Natural Area be granted personhood in the eyes of the law, giving it added protection from any unforeseen change of ownership or development shenanigans? Some will scoff at that provocative question but you may recall that corporations have been "people" for a very long time. Why not a prairie?

A similar provocative question opened a recent New York Times report on the Te Urewera wilderness and a river in New Zealand. The New Zealand government gave up ownership of the former national park and a river. Both were declared legal persons and now have all the rights, powers, duties and responsibilities of a legal person. (A board was established to serve as guardians of Te Urewera and protect its interests.)

The ruling in New Zealand recognizes the intrinsic connection between the land and the people connected to it and the community in general. I can hear your skepticism: "This is Texas not New Zealand and such an idea will never fly."

In my book, such an idea is not so outlandish and because this IS Texas, such a proposal is even more important. Just a few years ago, 2004 to be exact, serious threats were aimed at Tandy Hills and other public parkland in Fort Worth. (see #5 below) Yes, money was offered in exchange for what lay beneath the ground but as we have since learned, the money was tainted. Public health and the quality of our environment were compromised. That cost will come out of all our pockets for years to come. 

"Rights of nature" laws in the U.S. and around the world are gaining ground. For example, with help from human advocates, a couple of watersheds in Pennsylvania were recently involved in a legal battle to defend their rights to not be polluted by an oil and gas company. Similar stories are playing out across the globe. In 2008, Ecuador amended its constitution acknowledging that, "...nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles."

The proposal I'm laboring towards is that, just like Te Urewera is to the Maori tribe in New Zealand, Tandy Hills is part and parcel of who we are. It is us and was part of the Earth before a city-owned park. It can own itself, with the help of "our tribe." Its time has come.

In the words of a Maori tribesman,

“From our perspective as Maori, we believe that we come from the land and that the land has its own personality, its own heartbeat, its own health, its own soul,”

I can vouch for the same for Tandy Hills.


Illustration by Antonio de Luca and Google Earth, DigitalGlobe, 2016

2) Field Report - August

August was another unusual month, weather-wise. By turns, it was very hot, very cool, very dry and very wet. Overall, wet was the key word. Grasses are doing great. Wildlfowers are typically, not in abundance, with notable exceptions. See them all below and a critter I bumped into. Also, for you nature mystics, remember that September 22 is the autumn equinox. Finally, please continue posting your photos of plants and wildlife of Tandy Hills on the iNaturalist project page: Here's the LINK:

The Sunset Trail at Tandy Hills is looking like the Little Bluestem Trail, as the fall grasses resume their ascendency.

Sunlit, Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) will brighten your mood.

Shaded, Little Bluestem, has an other-worldly quality.

You know that autumn is coming soon when the Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii) is in full bloom.

Snow-on-the-Prairie (Euphorbia bicolor)is another reliable fall bloomer.

The two make a lovely pair as they are often in close proximity at Tandy Hills.

American Bumblebees were a common sight at Tandy in August. They especially like Gay-feather (Liatris aestivalis)

Pasture Heliotrope (Heliotropium tenellum) blossoms number in the millions at Tandy Hills. Honest. (Note: actual flowers are about 1/4" diameter)

The distinctive silhouette of Giant Blue Sage (Salvia azurea var. grandiflora) nicely frames a summer sunset.

3) Giving Day is Nigh

North Texas Giving Day, our biggest and most important fund raiser of the year, is coming up, September 22. On that day and ONLY that day, you can make a donation to Tandy Hills by clicking this link:

During the month, we will periodically post video reminders on Facebook. You never know what we might do to get your attention. Here's a link to video #1, introducing, Mz. Cherie D'Prairie and Igor the Magnificent! You may laugh, you may cry, you will possibly cringe but, please remember Friends of Tandy Hills on September 22.

4) Texas Pollinator BioBlitz

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area invites everyone of all ages to participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz (TPB) on Saturday afternoon and evening, October 8th from 5 p.m. - 11 p.m. 
Bring your camera and/or iPhone to Tandy Hills and see how many pollinators you can find and identify. Examples of pollinators include, butterflies, moths, bees, bats, hummingbirds, wasps, flies and beetles. Tandy Hills has all of these.
Sam Kieschnick, Urban Biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept., will be on-hand to help you identify what you find and post to iNaturalist or the dedicated TPB Facebook page. (It will help if you get an Instagram app for your phone before arriving.) Sam will have special lights set up for attracting insects after dark. 
Stick around for the PrairieSky / StarParty from sunset until 11 p.m. Look at the night sky through telescopes set up by members of the Fort Worth Astronomical Society. It's all free.
Helpful links:
> Go here to register for the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz:
> Go here to join the Facebook Event Page: (Not active as of 8/31)
> Go here to get an Instagram app for your phone:
> Go here to join the Tandy Hills iNaturalist Project:

5) FOTHNA Origins: Circa 2005

August 28, 2005 was a pivotal day in the history of FOTHNA.

August 28 marks the 11th anniversary of the very first protest against fracking. Anywhere. It happened in east Fort Worth. Even Josh Fox says so. Read the Jeff Prince 2005 report in the FW Weekly here:

It was a hot and humid Sunday morning in 2005, but that didn't stop a couple dozen folks from picketing outside a Baptist church in east Fort Worth. This was before the word fracking had been coined. Heck, the Sierra Club was still pro-fracking. But we knew trouble when we saw it.

The reason for the protest? Sagamore Hill Baptist Church owned 50 acres of very rare, original Texas prairie next to Tandy Hills and a historic neighborhood. Church leaders announced that they were striking a deal to sell the land which is adjacent to Tandy Hills Natural Area. 

When all efforts to reason with church leaders to abandon the deal failed, a small group of citizens felt the only way to get their attention was a Sunday morning protest. With full knowledge of the negative impact to the immediate neighborhood's integrity, its residents safety, wildlife and Tandy Hills, church leaders signed a mineral lease with Chesapeake Energy.

A few weeks later, Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations (FWCANDO) was formally named and began a crusade to raise public awareness of the dangers of fracking. Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area was spun off of that original group.

Today, the land remains un-fracked. FWCANDO fought the good fight for several years before others took up the fight. Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, meanwhile, remains a thriving organization and Chesapeake Energy is nearly kaput and its founder is dead.

6) Moths & Stars & More

PrairieSky / StarParty finally happened under a mostly clear sky. Food was available from Funky Town Food Truck and Steel City Pops.

The rain barely held off allowing us to finally have the first, PrairieSky / StarParty. Despite a few clouds, and with help from Fort Worth Astronomical Society members, an engaged crowd wandered from telescope to telescope observing wonders of the night sky.

 TP&WD Urban Biologist, Sam Kieschnick, was also present with his bug lights and white cloth attracting noctural critters to the delight of all. The crowd was mesmerized at the number of species attracted to the lights. See the pics of the 35 species Sam posted on iNat here:

A lost Crab Spider looking for the Crab Nebula at Tandy Hills. (photo by Sam Kieschnick) 

> Sam will be back in October. (see #4 above)

7) Going Shopping?

Friends of Tandy HIlls Natural Area receives a small donation from Amazon every time you make a purchase in our name. Go here to make your Amazon purchases:

8) Prairie Proverb

"A healthy environment is “one of the basic human rights.”

- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring 1962

> > > Coming in October Prairie Notes: The Bats of Tandy Hills


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.