Deer Park Prairie Workday Photos – 2-25-17

Thanks San Jacinto College Students and Student Engagement and Activities Specialists, Jill Johnson and Samantha De La Rosa!

A group of 10 from San Jacinto College, south and Central Campuses, joined 8 HNPAT volunteers on the prairie for the February 25, 2017 workday. The weather was perfect – sunny and mild.

The largest group worked with Glenn to cut the woody plants on the fenceline and then hauled the trimmings with Glenn’s trailer to the NW corner of the property. There a brush pile has been created for wildlife.

A smaller group cut back plants and thatch in the demonstration bed to about 8 inches tall, a task that needs to be done annually in lieu of fire or grazing. They also weeded. (Continued below the photos.)

Chuck and Kelly Shield were converting the gazebo into a greenhouse. Chuck had taken off the opaque composition roof during the last workday. They were now putting on clear plastic corrugated sheets for the roof. For the sides, they were using chicken wire to keep out the squirrels and other animals.

At noon, Hazel provided a wonderful hot dog and beans and potato salad lunch. Thank you Hazel.

Everyone had a great time!

By the way, ExxonMobil approved  Allen Potvin’s submission for a $500 ExxonMobil Team Grant that he, Hazel, Bruce Senior, Lynne Hoefer, and Lauren Blanton earned on the January 28th workday. The Potvins donated the money to HNPAT and Hazel, with the HNPAT board’s approval, used that money to buy needed tools for Deer Park Prairie. Thanks to all of you!

Insect List @ Deer Park Prairie by Chuck Duplant

The insect list for Deer Park Prairie compiled by Chuck Duplant is online now: 170228-l-dpp-insect-list-2_2017.

Check out Chuck’s wonderful photos of insects and wildflowers at Deer Park Prairie. Go to the album section of HNPAT’s Flickr photos ( and select the album “by Chuck Duplant”. Enjoy!chuckduplantflickralbum



Reminder: THIS Weekend is Bioblitz at Deer Park Prairie

Join us to catalog and view the flora and fauna of Deer Park Prairie!

Pat Merkord, Executive Director of NPAT, will be leading this event. See flyer on our home page for the entire weekend’s program on Saturday, 10/22 & Sunday, 10/23.

7/10/16: First NPAT Prairie Mapping Expedition in Harris County

To RSVP for this event: email or call 1-936-827-7973

NPAT's first prairie mapping expedition in Harris County. Participation in previous mapping classes/talks NOT a requirement.

NPAT’s first prairie mapping expedition in Harris County. Participation in previous mapping classes/talks NOT a requirement. Email or call 1-936-827-7973 to RSVP.

Insect Checklist by Chuck Duplant


Rambur’s Forktail male; photo by Chuck Duplant, 6/27/15


Just posted  –  an insect checklist by Chuck Duplant who wrote: “…Most of the insects are from what I have seen at the prairie and from photos from [Deer Park Prairie] Flicker site. My veting process is to ID them in guides and credited web sites such as OdonataCentral, BugGuide etc.

Some of the insects I have not been able to determine species due to several factors which is not uncommon…” 

Check out

Link to insect checklist:

Prairie Mapping Project Phase II Training Workshop!


Prairie fever

The first training workshop for Phase II of the Prairie Mapping Project is this Sunday!  Sign up today!

Sunday, March 6, 2016  10 AM – 3:00 PM
Deer Park Prairie
1222 East Purdue Lane
Deer Park Texas
Call or email Pat Merkord to RSVP and get information on parking which is limited
Training Schedule:
April 13th at the Judson Robinson Community Center at 2020 Hermann Park Drive from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. covering locating landowners using appraisal district information and landowner contact, and the use of Google maps, soil service mapping, creating polygons and the use of iNaturalist. (Offered again on May 31st at Deer Park Prairie.)
May 11th at Deer Park Prairie from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. covering ID of forbs and grasses. (Will be offered again in June, date tba, at Nash Prairie.)
BRING HIKING SHOES, WEAR Clothes that cover arms and legs – bring lunch, sunscreen and bug repellent.

Help HNPAT plan 2016

2016HNPAT border

HNPAT email of 12/16/15 was sent and can be viewed at this link. Most of the information is also on our home page.

We are asking for your help in planning and organizing HNPAT FOR 2016. Please indicate in the doodle poll all times that you will be available to meet and plan. Possible locations are Luby’s at Waugh, Luby’s at S. MacGregor, or Cleburne’s Cafeteria.

More December, 2015 Seed Collecting Trips

Sign up to be on the seed collecting email announcement list – email HNPAT​


Seed Collecting
Friday, 12/11/15 @ Nash Prairie
Sunday, 12/13/15 @ Deer Park Prairie
Friday, 12/18/15 @ UH Coastal Center in La Marque
Seed Collecting at Nash Prairie, 10-12-15
Seed Collecting at Nash Prairie on 10/12/2015

Hi Seed Collectors,

Please join us for more seed collecting events this month (scroll down for details for each event).

  • Friday, December 11, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – noon or later at Nash Prairie just south of Brazos Bend State Park
  • ​Sunday, December 13, 2015, 1:00 pm to ~4:00 pm​ at Deer Park Prairie​ with Lan
  • Friday, December 18, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at UH Coastal Center with Jaime​ & Lan

Please RSVP with your cell phone number and indicate which event. You will be given date of event contact number.​ Late deciders are also welcome, but please know that we will not be able to contact you in case of cancellation.

Seed collecting is a leisurely way to enjoy the prairie and learn prairie plants. Walk with a companion in the prairie & run your hands up the appropriate seed head. Seeds that easily fall in your hand are ripe for collection. Or walk with a pair of scissors/pruners to cut off seeds with tough stems.

As always, wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring clippers if you have them.  Also recommended are long-sleeved shirt, hat, water, insect repellent, sunscreen.

*** Specific Information Below for Each Event ***

Nash Prairie: Friday, December 11, 2015, 10 a.m. – noon or later.  From Susan Conaty, email sent 12/4/15:

Same Place Same Time

Liatris acidota – 10/12/2015

Thank you everyone who came out today to help collect liatris [Liatris acidota] for The Nature Conservancy. Your time and effort are greatly appreciated. It was such a beautiful successful day that we are going to collect again next Friday December 11th at 10:00 A.M.

If you have an electric hedge trimmer please bring it if you can, it will make the work easier.  Otherwise, bring the usual for seed collecting, scissors, paper sacks, gloves.  If you don’t have any of the above I will bring some extra.

You are welcome to hand collect seed for yourself or other project, after we collect for TNC

No facilities on the Nash.
Bring water

Meet at Nash Prairie
24110 County Road 25
(Or 29.254653,-95.60277)
Park on Orozimbo Rd (Cty Rd 255)
Damon, TX 77430
Driving Directions


Deer Park Prairie: Sunday, December 13, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.​
1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, TX 77536
Please bring a signed liability release: adult or adult+children .  Check out our newly completed viewing platform while you are there.

UH Coastal Center: ​Friday, December 18, 9:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Join Jaime & Lan for seed collecting at UH Coastal Center (usually not open to the public).
Meet in front of the gate in La Marque, TX, google map: .  Please arrive on time, so we can go through the locked gate together.

Reminder: No facilities at UH Coastal Center.

See you on the prairie,


Come and help us collect prairie seeds, experience the prairie, help restoration efforts and also take some seeds home for your own garden.

Please send comments about your seed collecting trips to share with other prairie enthusiasts. Be sure to post photos of seed collecting trips at the CPP website: or send the photos to Lan Shen,, and I will post them and credit the photos to you.

Information about this project, the individual teams, the seeds that we are collecting and when they would be ripe are online at

Addendum Regarding “Cancelled!” & Gas Leak at the House on Deer Park Prairie.

As previously posted, all activities on Deer Park Prairie has been cancelled until further notice.

IMG_1862crFor those curious, this is what happened: Gas was smelled near the shed in the side/backyard. Glenn Merkord called Centerpoint. The technician who came checked the house for gas and turned off the gas. When he determined there is no gas leak INSIDE the house, he turned the gas to the house back on. The leak was determined to be OUTSIDE in the Centerpoint gas line near the shed. The technician said that Centerpoint had 30 days allowed to fix it. When Glenn asked, if we needed to do anything, the technician said no.

About a week later, another Centerpoint technician again determined that the leak was outside near the shed, but he turned off the gas to the house and said that they will monitor the leak every 10-12 days until they have an opportunity to fix it. This time they recommended for full safety of any employees or volunteers that we need to stay off the property until it is fixed.

Based on the conflicting Centerpoint recommendations, NPAT decided to cancel activities until the gas leak is fixed.

The fact that Centerpoint is not fixing the leak immediately and the fact that the first technician turned the gas to the house back on says to me that Centerpoint’s assessment is there is no eminent danger of explosion, since there are other houses and a school nearby. I also heard that gas leaks outdoors dissipate into the atmosphere and generally do not explode.

I was puzzled; it is so well ingrained in all of us that gas leaks can explode with even the slightest ignition source. I was wondering why Centerpoint can wait up to 30 days to fix the leak.  I looked it up online. In short, apparently, when the leak is outside as this one is, the gas being lighter than air dissipates and generally does not built up to a concentration higher than the lower explosive limit. At a concentration below that limit, natural gas will not burn (or explode) even if an ignition source is present.

Since I learned something, I would like to share the sources of my information. Disclaimer: information in the above paragraph and in the paragraphs below are my interpretations based on what I found online. I know nothing about this field and each reader need to use his/her own judgement as to the validity of my interpretations.

When I googled “natural gas leaks outdoors” online, one article (source: The Spokesman Review, a newspaper) said “This year Spokane Valley Fire Department crews have responded to several broken natural gas lines, whether from some sort of construction work in the road or a homeowner who got careless with a pick ax. Spokane Valley Fire Battalion Chief Stan Cooke gave the same advice as Kolbet. It’s fine to stay in your home if you don’t smell anything [Lan’s note: implied is if you don’t smell anything inside the house], but you should leave if you smell the odor of rotten eggs, he said.

The reason is that once the gas is inside your home, it can’t be ventilated until the leak outside is stopped. It’s rare for explosions to occur with outside leaks, though firefighters recommend that if you are evacuated you do it on foot and not try to start a car.”

Also, Wikipedia ( described different grades of gas leaks. “A Grade 2 leak is a leak that is recognized as being non-hazardous at the time of detection, but justifies scheduled repair based on probable future hazard.”  I do not know what grade leak ours is, but apparently there are non-hazardous leaks. The article talked about 80% LEL or 40% LEL etc. Not knowing what LEL stands for, I looked it up.

LEL is lower explosive limit. “The lowest concentration (percentage) of a gas or a vapor in air capable of producing a flash of fire in presence of an ignition source (arc, flame, heat)…At a concentration in air lower than the LEL, gas mixtures are “too lean” to burn. Methane gas has an LEL of 4.4%. If the atmosphere has less than 4.4% methane, an explosion cannot occur even if a source of ignition is present.
Percentage reading on combustible air monitors should not be confused with the LEL concentrations…A 5% displayed LEL reading for methane, for example, would be equivalent to 5% multiplied by 4.4%, or approximately 0.22% methane by volume at 20 degrees C. Control of the explosion hazard is usually achieved by sufficient natural or mechanical ventilation, to limit the concentration of flammable gases or vapors to a maximum level of 25% of their lower explosive or flammable limit.

So apparently when there is a slow leak of gas outdoors, the gas, being lighter than air, dissipates into the atmosphere and if the concentration of gas is lower than the LEL, the gas will not burn or explode regardless of whether there is an ignition source or not.

Then I had a question of what is the concentration of gas, when I can smell the gas and found this online: ( “Gas is intentionally odorized so that the average person can perceive it at a concentration well below the explosive range.

Hence, gas leaks outdoors generally do not explode.  All that said, out of an abundance of caution, all activities on property has been cancelled until Centerpoint fixes the gas leak.

I still marvel at the information that can be found in minutes at 1:00 a.m. on the internet! I remember very well that not too long ago researching the above information would require many hours (at least) in the library – when it is open.

Lan Shen