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Navigating the Potholes to Restore an Urban Prairie at Willow Waterhole

  • Guest Speakers:  Carolyn White and Stephen Benigno of the Harris County Flood Control District
  • June 12, 2014 @7:30 PM – Refreshments @ 7:15 PM
  • The Public is invited.
  • Houston Sierra Club General Meeting @ St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Pecore Hall
  • 1805 West Alabama at the corner of Woodhead – Parking lot behind the church
  • For more information contact:  Evelyn L. Merz at elmerz@hal-pc.org

Art and Science are both needed when navigating the potholes to restore an urban prairie.  The Houston Sierra Club welcomes staff from the Environmental Services Division of the Harris County Flood Control District to hear about their work-in-progress to restore a degraded prairie in a corner of the Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Basin in the Brays Bayou watershed.  This may well bethe signature restoration project of the Harris County Flood Control District.

Although the prairie is still a work in progress, the project involves more than finding an ecological balance between the open prairie and the trees and brush that gradually began to dominate the site .  The restoration’s success hinges upon cementing a supportive relationship with the residents of the adjacent community.  HCFCD is balancing the neighbors’ desire to maximize the number of trees remaining at the site with the need to prevent encroachment in the prairie.

Within the 15-acre prairie conservation area is a population of the endangered Prairie Dawn plant (Hymenoxys texana), which HCFCD is protecting.  The prairie around the prairie dawn will be years in the restoration, but the removal of invasive yaupon and other woody species is allowing prairie grasses to recover.

Two speakers will share the spotlight.  Carolyn White is a Project Manager for HCFCD’s Environmental Services Division.  She currently manages projects under the water quality and revegetation programs, including wetland planting for water quality enhancement, prairie management, detention basin layout, water quality monitoring, and preparation of landscape and planting plans for capital improvement projects.  Stephen Benigno is the Revegetation and Site Stabilization Coordinator for HCFCD’s Environmental Services Division. He currently supports and manages projects under the water quality and revegetation programs, including wetland planting for water quality enhancement, prairie management, water quality monitoring, endangered species monitoring, and vegetation enhancement and soil stabilization studies.

If you would like to check out some references before the meeting, you can see the prairie conservation area location on the east side of South Post Oak Blvd. within Compartment #3 of Willow Waterhole, at http://www.projectbrays.org/docs/WillowWaterholeDetention.pdf .  There is a list of all the plants  within the site’s Coastal Prairie Management Plan for at http://www.projectbrays.org/docs/reports/PrairieManagement%20Plan.pdf .

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Photo of group at Willow Waterhole from an email sent by HCFCD’s Kimberlye Jackson; Photo of Fringed puccoon sent by Flo Hannah.

 

Restore an Urban Prairie at Willow Waterhole by HCFCD