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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.

Tandy Hills: Shifting Focus

Prairie Notes #103
July 1, 2015

1) Tandy Hills: Shifting Focus
2) For Sale: Painted Prairie Pictures
3) Field Report - June
4) Wild Food Hike Report
5) Memorial on the Prairie
6) Nude Hiking Rules
7) Prairie Bookshelf
8) Prairie Proverb


01) Tandy Hills: Shifting Focus

The Eye of Heaven (the Sun, that is) flames brightly above the Tandy prairie these days much as it has for millennia. But things on the ground are changing. Having served an important purpose in raising awareness of the local prairie for 10 years, our beloved Prairie Fest is now in the rearview mirror. Friends of Tandy Hills will be shifting our focus to smaller events while putting more emphasis on Education and Land Management.

Two new committees have been formed to take us into the future, near and far. A newly formed Education Committee will focus not just on Kids on the Prairie and other existing events but also on a variety of new events and initiatives to engage and assist the public in interpreting, enjoying and appreciating Tandy Hills. Wildflower hikes, birding counts, star-gazing parties, wild food hikes, night hikes, pop-up events, herp hikes and more, are in the works. 

The new Land Management Committe will debut later this summer and focus on restoration of the land from, gathering and interpreting scientific and anecdotal data, well-planned brush clearing and reseeding, prescribed burns, trail systems, signage, Scout projects and hopefully ...drum roll... much-needed public restroom facilities. A visitor center is still a piece of the dream, as well. Technologies such as, GPS mapping, eBird and iNaturalist data posting will be utilized more fully. We plan to work more closely with area organizations, schools and universities to get more and better scientific data to share with you on things like geology, pollinators, wildlife and human impact on the land.

Both of these committees will work closely with City of Fort Worth staff especially, Rob Denkhaus and Michelle Villafranca of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, with more focus than ever before. Your support, input, feedback and involvement are vital. 


2) For Sale: Painted Prairie Pictures

A selection of 18 plein-air paintings created by local artists at Prairie Fest are now for sale for a limited time only. See complete list at website with payment instructions. Profits go to Friends of Tandy Hills outdoor education and restoration programs. Act now. Sale ends August 1.…

3) Field Report - June

Nicely spaced rain events and a refreshing but brief summer 'norther helped make June 2015 tolerable for flora and fauna, including the two-legged kind. As usual this time of year, the wildfowers yield most but not all of the stage to prairie grasses. You have to get out of your car and walk in to see the 160-acre Crayola Box of seductive wildflowers waiting there for you. New blooming species are coming online weekly. Here's a few pics from my June notebook.

There are Texas Bluebells on the Tandy hills. But I never heard them ringing until there was you. (Eustoma exaltatum ssp russelianum)

Sundrops (Oenothera berlandieri) with their crepe-paper-like petals are vigorous bloomers right now.

Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum) is rather plain most of the year but seductively coquettish when the seeds pop.

Wand Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) is the most distinctive member of milkweed family at Tandy Hills.

Wand Milkweed is one of the sexiest plants at Tandy Hills.

Yum-yum! Green Milkweed (Asclepias virdis) is to pollinators what ice cream is to humans on a hot summer day.

Spring downpours have helped Gay-Feather (Liatris sp.) multiply this year. Purple bloom tips by the thousands are coming soon.

Lady Bird's Centaury (Centaurium texense) has started showing its tiny yet striking striking pink color. Blooms coming soon.

White Compassplant (Silphium albiflorum) and it's yellow cousin (Silphium laciniatum) are now blooming.

Sideoats Grama grass (Bouteloua curtipendula) is starting to brighten up the prairie.

A sun-kissed Sleepy Orange butterfly silently powering up.

Side-cluster or Primrose Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) a new-to-me species was discovered in June.

(A. oenotheroides)

Dogweed (Dyssodiopsis tagetoides) contrasts sharply with the coming 'norther of June 27.

One of the many colorful, sunsets seen from the lumpy prairie mattress that was the Tandy Hills in mid-June.

4) Wild Food Hike Report

About 35 enthusiastic people showed up for the wild food walk on June 13 with delightful hike leaders, Debbie & Bryan Pierce. It was VERY interesting and educational. Surprisingly, many of the edible plants we found are non-native species. (Bad for Tandy Hills but good to eat.) Some of the natives such as Ground Cherry and Hackberry have fruits I hope to sample when they ripen. I'm looking forward to my first Hackberry seed milkshake this fall in honor of one of my heroes and fellow Texans, Euell Gibbons. Here's to you, Euell!

Gathering for breakfast on the prairie. That Peppergrass was amazing

Debbie and Bryan Pierce and even their young son know their wild edibles.

5) Memorial on the Prairie

Over the past 10 years Tandy Hills has been the site of at least two weddings. Today was the first time a memorial service was held there. More than 50 people attended the solemn and life-affirming event led by, Paul John Roach of Unity Church FW, enjoying perfect weather and a glorious new view of the hills thanks to the February Brush Bashers. A piper from Fort Worth Scottish Pipes & Drums performed Amazing Grace, of course, and then, in a nice touch, played Scotland the Brave as he marched heroically off into the distance. 'Twas a beautiful and touching service.

6) Nude Hiking Rules

Mea culpa! I neglected to remind you readers last month that June 21 was not only Father's Day and the Summer Solstice, it was also Nude Hiking Day. YOU MAY BE SURPRISED OR SHOCKED to know that nude hiking is legal in Fort Worth, if you behave, that is. After an inquiry from a visitor, I checked and got this response from the city attorney:

"There are currently no laws on the books that prohibit or criminalize the act of simply being fully nude while in a City of Fort Worth park. The act of being completely nude could rise to the level of criminal conduct (either indecent exposure or disorderly conduct) if it is combined with other factors such as sexual gratification and/or recklessness about whether another person will be offended or alarmed by the act. If the individuals wish to hike nude, then they need to be aware that it could result in a criminal violation…if someone observes such nudity and becomes offended or alarmed by it, then the police would need to be contacted.

TO BE PERFECTLY CLEAR: Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area is not sponsoring, promoting or endorsing nude hiking at Tandy Hills. We are simply passing on information. We urge you to always use discretion when hiking at Tandy Hills.

7) Summer Reading Bookshelf

News of three new books on the subject of the Patron Saint of Tandy Hills, Edward Abbey, is BIG news. First off, Earth Island Journal recently published a must-read report titled, Why Edward Abbey Still Matters, by Ben A. Minteer. Link HERE. In that article you will find refernce to the new books. Here they are:

All The Wild That Remains, by David Gessner. Subtitled, Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West. Two of the most respected heroes of the natural world but with different perspectives and writing styles whom we can all learn from and find inspiration. Website HERE.

Finding Abbey, by Sean Prentiss. Subtitled, The Search for Edward Abbey and His Secret Desert Grave. The author recounts his quest to find the well-hidden last resting place of Abbey. Along the way he conducts new interviews with key people in Abbey's life. Another key to learning what made Abbey tick. Website HERE.

Abbey in America, edited by John Murray. Subtitled: A philosopher's Legacy in a New Century. This is the one I'm most excited about as it updates Abbey's lasting influence "particularly with respect to urbanization and technology." Website HERE.

Friends of Tandy Hills gets a small percentage of sales when you purchase anything from AmazonSmile.

8) Prairie Proverb

"Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless."

-Edward Abbey

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.