Deer Park Prairie – One Year Later

A tremendous amount of improvements have been made at Deer Park Prairie (DPP) this past year, since the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) took possession of the property.The west fenceline has been cleared of much of the shrubs and and woodies thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers, especially Kelly Walker and Brandt Mannchen, and DPP’s first Eagle Scout Project led by Mark Oldham.

The property was mowed last summer and will be again this summer, before haying can resume.

Many tallows on the prairie have been destroyed by Ian and Barbara Kress, Charlie Lundquist, and other dedicated volunteers. Treatment of tallows and other woodies with herbicide yielded good results.Ian and Barbara Kress have become the fairy godparents of DPP, for they not only donate much of their time volunteering at DPP, they also donated the seed money for this prairie – $5000 in both 2014 and 2015 with matching funds from Barbara’s work place. Ian even brought his mother, Mary McCarty, to our December workday. Mary was a real trooper: the prairie was ankle deep in water and she without rubber boots helped chop back the woodies along with Ian, Barbara, Maya Fletcher-Bai (back home from college), her father, Jane Reierson, Glenn and Pat.

Glenn Merkord, husband of NPAT Executive Director Pat Merkord and our hardiest working volunteer, has established workdays on second Wednesday and fourth Saturday mornings at DPP. Those are also our open days for the public. At 7:30 a.m. on fourth Saturdays, Damien Carey and Pat Merkord lead the monthly bird survey.Thanks to a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Grant, there is a prairie demonstration garden bed at the side of the house. The garden was built by volunteers and planted mostly by an Eagle Scout Project led by Jordon Smith and coordinated by Janis Terry our boy scout liaison. Another Eagle Scout Project, led by George Kutac, moved the cyclone fence and non-native flower bed, which had separated the backyard from the prairie, so we now have an uninterrupted view of the prairie from the back patio. Only eyesore left is the shed 😦

Thanks to Jaime Gonzalez and Katy Prairie Conservancy for permanent loan of a growing table. We will be able to grow plants from seeds collected on the prairie, including seeds of native milkweed for our new Monarch garden, supported by a grant from the Native Plant Society of Texas that NPAT via Barbara Willy had applied for.

Scientific projects are also ongoing. TPWD has installed a frog logger to record frog calls in order to identify the types of frogs on site. TPWD’s Kelly Norrid is often on property to change its battery and memory card. A TPWD intern is scheduled to also survey for herps and small mammals this summer.

Don Verser in the past, Doug Haass currently and more recently Chuck Duplant offer both science and art in their beautiful closeup photographs of the many insects on the prairie: see photos posted at our flickr site. Deer Park resident Doug Haass also offer his reflections on the prairie in Doug Haass’ DPP Journal.

NPAT made MANY repairs at considerable expense to the house on the prairie, so that now, it can be used for occasional meetings. Judy Thomas and her husband Randy took on the task of being in charge the yard and the house. Bayou Land Conservancy volunteer Robert Gardner painted the rusty garage door and fixed a hole in the siding. Furniture and a small refrigerator in the house were donated by Diana Foss, Bill & Michele Foss, her brother and sister-in-law, and by Rachel Powers with Citizens for Environmental Coalition among others. However, we still have tremendous needs with regard to the house and the prairie.

We hope that you HNPAT and NPAT supporters will help fund future improvements to the property – both house and prairie. To donate, go to this link or send a check made out to NPAT and note in the memo with the words “for Deer Park Prairie” and mail to
Native Prairies Association of Texas
415 N. Guadalupe St. PMB 385
San Marcos, TX 78666

Thank you for your support.  We welcome visitors by appointment (HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org or 512-772-4741) or on our open days:
2nd Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. – noon
4th Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – noon