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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.

What Have We Done!

Prairie Notes: #84
December 1, 2013

1) What Have We Done!
2) Invest in a Winner
3) Field Notebook: Autumn Moods
4) Beneath the Virgin Prairie
5) Prairie Proverb

1) What Have We Done!

The Year 2013 was another fruitful one for Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. We are grateful for the following:

- Outdoor Classroom #1 was completed in January by a dedicated group of Boy Scouts led by Eagle Scout, Michael Fazi. Outdoor Classroom #2 is currently under construction and will be completed by Spring.

- S&S Trail Systems of Austin, Texas, has been hired to consult with City of FW Parks staff on how to improve the trails at Tandy Hills. There will be a workshop on trail building and restoration in the Spring for Friends of Tandy Hills volunteers. Stay tuned.

- A set of trail markers for the newly named, Bobcat Trail, was installed by Eagle Scout, Khan Nguyen.

- Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area was awarded the 2013 Green Source DFW Environmental Leadership Award for Grass Roots Non-profit Organization.

- A re-imagined Prairie Fest was unveiled and received accolades form an enthusiastic crowd. PF #9 is coming at you on April 26, 2014.

- Kids on the Prairie completed another successful year of sponsoring Spring and Fall field trips for FWISD students.

- Two Fort Worth Public Art sculptures inspired by Tandy Hills Trout Lilies were installed on nearby, East Lancaster Avenue.

- Tandy Hills Natural Area won second place in the Red Tricycle Most Awesome Family Hiking Trails awards.

- The Fort Worth Weekly anointed Tandy Hills Natural Area as, Best Green Space in Tarrant County, as part of the their Best of 2013 awards.

- Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area received a generous grant from the Fort Worth Audubon Society to enhance our Kids on the Prairie program.

What a way to end 2013! See below on how YOU can help make 2014 even more fruitful. Yeee haw!!!!!


Nothing but blue sky for Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area in 2013.

2) Invest in a Winner

There is a good reason why Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area (FOTHNA) has received so many awards, honors, grants and recognition over the past few years. Our passionate group of volunteer staff are dedicated to making a difference in our community through our much-heralded conservation and educational programs.

Many of you supported us in 2013 with either a Basic Membership or Sponsorship. Some of you meant to do so but forgot. Either way, we need all of you to support FOTHNA in 2014. Membership is on the calendar year ending on December 31st.

There are also many side-benefits for supporting FOTHNA. Learn more about Basic Membership HERE and Sponsorship HERE.

Invest in FOTHNA, a proven winner for our community, with a Membership or Sponsorship in 2014.

3) Field Notebook: Autumn Moods

The Winter Solstice is not until December 21, but the vibrant colors of Fall wildflowers peaked early, fading quickly into the browns and grays of Winter. Not a wildflower bloom in sight by mid-November. Even Nodding Ladies Tresses Orchid failed to appear, to my eyes, anyway. The exception as of November 30 are the Oaks that trace the seams between the hills. They carry torches yet of yellow, red and orange, burning brightly in the chilled twilight.

Here's a few of the autumn moods found at Tandy Hills in November.

Backlit by a setting Sun, seed heads of Little Blue Stem grass characterize large portion of Tandy Hills.

Little Blue Stem pairs nicely with Prickly Pearframed by Juniper trees.

The longest blooming plant on the 2013 prairie, Two-leaf Senna, finally gave in to freezing temps in mid-November.

A Northwest-facing Autumn view from Outdoor Classroom #1.

The antler-like leaves of Compass Plant, are widely scattered at Tandy Hills.

The white fluff or, pappus, of of Prairie Falsewillow (Baccharis texana), help the fruit disperse more effectively.

Silver Bluestem and Little Bluestem light up the western slopes of Tandy Hills

An east-facing view from the site of Outdoor Classroom #2.

4) Beneath the Virgin Prairie

The New York Times published a curious editorial on November 20th that extolls the amazing richness of tall grass prairie subsoil, a near extinct ecosystem. The article describes cutting edge genomic research of the microbes present under the tall grass, an effort led by a team of scientists at University of Colorado, Boulder. Their work is expected to bolster prairie restoration efforts.

Read the UC Boulder report HERE and an fascinating blog post from High Country News HERE.

5) Prairie Proverb

"The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall."

from the song, Autumn Leaves. Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1947

Tandy Hills in Autumn delights the eye.

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 otherwise otherwise noted.

Don Young