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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.

Year of the Prairie

Prairie Notes #89
May 1, 2014

1) Year of the Prairie
2) Field Notebook
3) Prairie Fest Summary
4) Sponsors MADE it Happen
5) Ecopsychology
6) It is Proclaimed!
7) FOTHNA Birthday
8) Prairie Proverb

1) Year of the Prairie

From my perspective, 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Prairie in north Texas. A Google search revealed that no Year of the Prairie has yet been coined so, why not make it official right now. As noted in Prairie Notes #86, the word itself is increasingly common in popular culture.

More to the point, prairies and their restoration, protection and celebration are on the agendas of a slew of events happening in our backyard. Consider the following:

> On April 22, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, proclaimed April 26 as Prairie Fest Day (see #6 below)
> Prairie Fest #9 at Tandy Hills Natural Area on April 26 was another rousing success (see #3 below)
> Native Prairie & Plants Day in Dallas, May 3
> Prairie Day at Botanical Research Institute of Texas in FW, May 3
> Year 3 of Kids on the Prairie at Tandy Hills, May 13 & 15 and again in the Fall.
> Regional State of the Prairie Conference presented by the Native Prairie Assoc. of Texas coming to Fort Worth May 29 - 31
> Save the Fort Worth Prairie Park, is an ongoing campaign to save several hundred acres from development.

These are just a few of the prairie offerings coming up in 2014. I urge you to participate in Year of the Prairie events and to visit and support your local prairie.


Tandy Hills prairie is slowly but surely filling in with Engelmann Sage, Greenthread and dozens of other wildflowers.

2) Field Notebook

Observing the Tandy prairie in the month of April was like watching a real-life paint-by-number work in progress. Slower than usual and still not filled in, but getting there.

One of the most breathtaking scenes of prairie wildflowers I've ever encountered was the discovery of hundreds of Wild Hyacinths (Camaassia scilloides). Sweet-smelling, true-blue/lavender blooms with bright yellow stamens on a tall stalk looked regal set amongst the remains of last Falls Bluestem grass. The colony expanded dramatically this year. (See pics of these and others below.) The show changes weekly. Plan a visit to your local prairie ASAP.

This colony of Wild Hyacinth at Tandy Hills expanded wildly in 2014.

Bee and butterfly magnet.

A chablis-colored Standing Winecup.

Sharp-eyed observers will note that, Blue-eyed Grass is actually yellow-eyed.

Majestic, Trailing Antelopehorns Milkweed food of the Monarch butterfly larvae.

Purple Paintbrush in an uncommon pink shade for Tandy Hills. The only specimen seen at the park.

False Foxglove and Prickly Pear make a nice pair. Pun intended.

Unopened False Foxglove flowers are delicately hirsute.

Unopened Greenthread flowers belie their soon-to-be yellow color.

3) Prairie Fest Summary

To save and maintain a prairie it takes a little more than "a clover and one bee." Sometimes a Prairie Fest revery helps. Besides the usual array of wildflower hikes, exhibitors and music, Prairie Fest #9 had a delightful and sometimes unexpected mash-up of planned and impromptu activities and performance. Here are a few reports:

---> Wildflower Tour Director, Anne Alderfer, reports that 200+ people took the Master Naturalist-led prairie hikes. That's a new Prairie Fest record!

---> City of Fort Worth Parks Department Supervisor, Bobby Muriel, reports that Prairie Fest collected 1,520 pounds of recyclable material keeping it out of the landfill, another Prairie Fest record.

---> Event Solar Power Director, Dan Lepinski, reports that the Prairie Fest stage consumed 21,311 watt-hours of electricity none of which came from dirty energy extraction. It all came from the Sun preventing a modest amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere but, according to Dan, "it adds up."

---> Prairie Fest co-director, Carrie Vano, reminds that the Prairie Circle was alive with interesting and fun activities from belly dancers to hippie vans to tipi storytellers and kite-fliers. Prairie Fest was also widely covered in the Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Weekly. Here's a couple of reports:

---> Plein Air Painters Director, Jenny Conn, reports that 15 artists painted on the prairie or submitted works creating unique masterpieces at very affordable prices. A few remain unsold and will soon be posted on our website for sale. Well known local artists, Elaine Taylor and Nancy Lamb submitted works this year.

---> Prairie Fest Stage Director, Philip Hennen, ran an efficient, professional operation on the solar-powered stage with the same broad musical diversity and quality as in years past. Southside Pirate was on hand to record the event for podcast and the fest was emceed by the amazing, Tony Diaz.

---> Official Prairie Fest Photographer, Chris Emory, took hundreds of pics. See a few below and more on the website soon.

---> Prairie Keepers Director, Heather Foote, reports:

Congratulations to TIme Traveler, Carter Jergensen, winner of the Prairie Keepers Passport Game at Prairie Fest 2014! Carter traveled back in time 4.6 billion years and returned as the winner of a week of overnight summer camp. Many thanks to YMCA Camp Carter for this $600. value donation and to sponsors in the Prairie Circle who stamped passports: Cross Timbers Connection, Keep Fort Worth Funky, Nature Reach and the Texas Honeybee Guild. We are also grateful to the FOTHNA volunteers and Cross Timbers Master Naturalists who led the children's hikes and to the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History for loaning a beautiful set of texas fossils for the booth. Artwork by Karen Carr and Richard Bizley took the Art on the Prairie out of this world.

An enthusiastic Sam Kieschnick leads wildflower tours for and enthusiastic crowd of Prairie Festers.

Tipi Tellers beguiling their audience.

James Zametz of Keep Fort Worth Funky doing just that.

Boy Scout Troops 12 and 180 built and manned a rope bridge for those who dared.

One stop shopping for fest goers.

A lovely, living statue of Mother Nature graced the prairie

Plein air painters had a prairie day at Tandy Hills.

Fort Worth Scottish Pipes & Drums are a Prairie Fest tradition.

Young and talented dancers from Studio 74 shake their thing.

Twice Upon a Time Storytellers share their oral tradition with a new generation.

Brave Combo knows how to get people (and dogs) dancing.


4) Sponsors MADE it Happen

Prairie Fest is a fundraiser for Friends of Tandy Hills and our sponsors came through again, Big Time, making Prairie Fest possible. We are VERY grateful to them all. See the list of heroes here:

5) Ecopsychology

What the heck is "ecopsychology?" According to Wikipedia, "Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature."

Unity Online Radio host, Paul John Roach invited Debora & Don Young on his Earth Day show to discuss their work at Tandy Hills and how it fits the concept of ecopsychology. You can listen in at this web-link:

6) It is Proclaimed!

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area founders and key volunteers received a proclamation from Councilwoman Kelly Allen-Gray at the April 24th City Council meeting. There is a nice moment of levity when a photo of former Mayor McCann (1960) is shown on the screen. Check it out here:

Now therefore...

7) FOTHNA Birthday

It's been a busy year at Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area HQ. So busy, in fact, that we completely forgot that 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of our founding to save the Tandy Hills prairie. It was a decade ago in the Spring of 2004 that concern for the park began to mount, reaching a fever pitch that August and prompting this letter which launched FOTHNA.

Jeff Prince and the FW Weekly were there in the beginning and their recent Static column reminded me that it really has been a decade. Read it here:

The Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area have always been been about protecting our endangered prairie, at all costs. Now we are fully focused on enhancing and improving what we helped save. Thanks for your ongoing support. Your MEMBERSHIP donation will help insure our work continues and get you some cool stuff.

8) Prairie Proverb

"Prairie hills evolve
Time plus rain and wind conspire
The wildflowers know."

Don Young, from his haiku used in the Time Travel Passport Game at Prairie Fest #9

Mother Nature fooled me with this red-tinted early bloom of what later became bright yellow Sundrops.

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.