Reminder: Invasive Species ID + Field Application (Sat, 6/24) & Butterfly ID Class (Fri, 6/29)

Just a few more spaces left for this Saturday’s (6/24) Invasive Species ID Class and Field Application (9:00 am – noon) to be taught at Deer Park Prairie (DPP) by Glenn Merkord, essentially DPP’s volunteer “Land Manager”. This workshop will be a great primer on invasive species of the coastal prairie and will provide hands-on demonstrations of how to control these noxious weeds. $15 class fee includes materials and lunch. Class rated for novices. Click here for more information and registration.

Come and see the wildflowers in bloom at Deer Park Prairie and how non-native invasives are being controlled to ensure continued abundance of our native prairie wildflowers.

        

More spaces are also open for next Friday’s Prairie Butterfly ID Class (6/29, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm) . Wally Ward, member of Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas (B.E.S.T.), as well as Katy Prairie Conservancy Board Member and President of Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston will give an overview of local prairie butterflies and their identification at Trini Mendenhall Community Center in Spring Branch. Class rated for novices.  Click here for more information and registration.

Class participants are encouraged to practice their new knowledge and join Wally on a local butterfly field trip on July 8th, 10 a.m. – noon at Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Indian Grass Preserve. For more information and registration for the field trip, Click here.  Note: due to unexpected problems, previous offer for a field trip on July 1st has been cancelled.

7/7/17 Urban Prairies Manager Summit

On Friday, July 7th, the Coastal Prairie Partnership will host an innovative morning of learning and networking focused on the challenges of managing, restoring, and interpreting urban grasslands in the Greater Houston Region. There are only about 12 seats left, so if you or someone you might know would appreciate this offering please send them the link to this page.

The Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education!

News from Dr. Steve Pennings, Director of the University of Houston Coastal Center (UHCC), one of the premier coastal prairie remnants in the Texas:

I’m happy to pass on the news that House Bill 2285, which designates the UHCC as “The Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education” has passed the Texas legislature and been signed by the governor. Although this bill does not directly generate any new funding, we hope that it will raise the profile and status of the UHCC and help us compete for funding.

Want to see the UH Coastal Center (in La Marque), which is not usually open to visitors? Join Lan Shen and other volunteers to help the Katy Prairie Conservancy collect prairie plant seeds in the wild. We visit and collect seeds at the UH Coastal Center at least once per year, usually in fall. Sign up to receive the seed collecting announcements via email at this link.

An email from Katy Emde of the Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston Chapter said that Evelyn Merz of Sierra Club was also actively involved in getting House Bill 2285 passed and that Katy wrote a letter of support.

Breaking News – Deer Park Prairie!

Announced at the May 24th HNPAT meeting by Pat Merkord, Executive Director of NPAT: Shell Deer Park Manufacturing Complex just awarded Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), owner of the Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve (DPP), a grant for an educator position as well as funding for teaching materials. This achievement resulted from the hard work Pat and NPAT President, Barbara Willy, did in putting together the project proposal.

In early 2016, the Deer Park City Council granted NPAT a specific use permit to allow groups of up to 30 students onto the prairie, provided, among other conditions, that two ADA (American with Disability Act) approved bathrooms for each sex is available at the site. According to Pat, before conditions for the specific use permit are met, plans are for the educator to bring prairie lessons to classrooms in local schools and establish a working relationship with local school district teachers. Meanwhile Pat is meeting with architects regarding building the required facilities.

Pat also announced that the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce has indicated that it is interested in supporting the building project. NPAT appreciates community support from both Shell and the Chamber of Commerce to enable local children and youth to learn about our natural and cultural heritage on this platinum quality remnant of the nature that was once here.

We hope that our supporters will donate to help NPAT maintain Deer Park Prairie and to this new endeavor to bring school groups onto the prairie. (Read a past blog about funds and volunteers needed to maintain the prairie.) Donations for NPAT and for Deer Park Prairie are taken at this webpage. Non-directed donations will go toward very much needed support for staff and overhead, the non-glamorous part which often unfortunately does not get funded by grants . Should you wish to  specifically earmarked your donations for Deer Park Prairie, add “For use at Deer Park Prairie” in the comment section. When the fundraising for the required building facilities commence, we will post that information in a future blog. A heartfelt thank you to all our donors, volunteers, and supporters!

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Houston: Largest NWF Community Habitat!

The City of Houston has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as it’s “largest ever Community Wildlife Habitat™”! Among other requirements, this certification means that in a public and private collaboration, “nearly 1,000 yards, balconies, schools, parks and other properties provided the 4 elements that all wildlife need to thrive and survive – food, water, cover and places to raise young.”(1) In addition, “the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) has identified 80 parks with 16,000 acres of land as having natural areas” and “worked with volunteers to plant 2,500 native plants in public parks, maintained demonstration gardens at the City Hall Annex and Clinton Park, involved the master naturalists and the native plant society, spread the word at Earth Day Houston, Nature Fest and other events, and so much more.”(1)

To mark this accomplishment, on April 18, 2017 at City Hall in the Council Chambers, Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed that day as Wildlife Habitat Day in the City of Houston. As shown in the above photo from HPARD facebook, many of the partners in this effort were present to celebrate, including HNPAT President, Kelly Shield, who was an HPARD intern.

HPARD’s Natural Resources Management Program (NRMP) under Jed Aplaca (jed.aplaca@houstontx.gov) has done a wonderful job in making our city wildlife friendly. To be up-to-date on all NRMP programs, including its twice monthly plant propagation programs using volunteers at the City of Houston Greenhouse in Memorial Park, its plantings at city parks, and its free training classes, email Jed to get on the NRMP monthly email list. Join these activities and learn by doing! A vast majority of the plants propagated are prairie plants, so volunteering for the workdays enables learning about prairie plants from seed to maturity.

Want to create an oasis in your space (yard, balcony…) for wildlife? Get certified as a NWF Wildlife Habitat.

Horrors! I was intending to write “Get certified as a NWF Wildlife Habitat or as a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Best of Texas Backyard Habitat” But at the TPWD website is this notice:

Thank you for your interest in becoming recognized as having a Certified Texas Wildscape.
Due to the lack of staff and a current hiring freeze our agency is not currently able process, review, and approve new “Texas Wildscapes” or “Best of Texas Backyard Habitat Certification” applications.
We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please watch our website over the next year for updates on the Texas Wildscapes Certification Program.

Don’t get me started on what this state is wasting its money on!

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Reference: (1) https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/Wildlife/2017/4-18-17-Houston-100th-Community-wildlife-habitat.aspx

Invasives (6/24) – Butterflies (6/29) – Films (8/23)

Coastal Prairie Partnership & Houston Native Prairies Association of Texas are offering a summer of Invasive ID & Control, Butterflies, and Films. Details in the flyer below.

Invasive ID & Control: Saturday, June 24, 2017 by Glenn Merkord at DeerPark Prairie. Register Now.

Butterfly ID: Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:00 pm by Wally Ward. Followed by opportunity to join Butterfly Enthusiasts of SE Texas (BEST) for their in town butterfly count on July 1. Register for the class.

Register

Local Wildlife & Conservation Short Film Screening: HNPAT’S August 23rd Meeting at Cherie Flores Pavilion, 6:30 pm, refreshment; 7:00 pm program begins. Register for film screening.

2nd Annual Texas Prairies Bus Tour (Dallas) 6/3/17

Native Prairies Association of Texas offers a bus tour  on Saturday, June 3, 2017, of prairies of central Texas starting from Dallas and touring prairies near Temple, Austin, and Crawford. Participants of last year’s tour had a great time.

Although it said registration deadline is May 10, I received a copy of the email this week. When I clicked the registration link, I got through. Best to contact  Leigh Ann Ellis, 214.321.7159, if you are interested.

2nd Annual Texas Prairies Tour

Blackland Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas
2nd Annual Texas Prairies Tour
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake
521 E Lawther Dr. (access via Northcliff and N. Buckner)Click here to register for this event.
See itinerary below
 

Our Northeast Texas prairies tour was so fun last year, we’re doing it again, but this time we’re heading to Central Texas.

Enjoy short excursions in beautiful grasslands, most of which are not generally open to the public. A chance to stand in awe in a native prairie as it was before westward expansion. We’ll also learn about native prairie restoration and management. Become inspired on how to keep native prairies thriving for generations to come.

We’ll zip south to near Temple, which is halfway between Waco and Austin. After lunch in Salado, we’ll drive further south to near Taylor (west of Round Rock). Heading back north, we’ll go to Marlin (SE of Waco), where we’ll visit a series of small Blackland Prairies. Then we’ll travel west of Waco to tour an example of a Grand Prairie. Heading north to home, we’ll stop in West for dinner.

Itinerary

7:00am — Bus leaves from parking lot at Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther Dr, Dallas, TX 75218.

Prairie #1: Burleson Prairie, Oenaville (east of Temple, Texas):

  • Prairie Guide: Mickey Burleson, Owner of Burleson Prairie
Native prairie restored by Mickey and her late husband, Bob Burleson. They spent decades recording prairie data, restoring hundreds of acres of native prairie, and focusing on state wide conservation efforts.

Lunch in Salado with Dolly Kunz Wilson; included in tour fee.

Prairie #2: Granger Lake Prairie, Granger Lake Park, Taylor

  • Prairie Guide: Pat Merkord, Executive Director, NPAT
Pat will explain restoration procedures taken on this native tallgrass prairie site, planted in 1994 in a cooperative effort between NPAT, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Prairie #3: Riesel Prairie and Prairie #4: Lehmann Prairie, near Marlin

  • Prairie Guide: Pat Merkord, Executive Director, NPAT
These two small prairies are about 10 miles apart and are excellent examples of the native tallgrasses that were prevalent in Central Texas area prior to European settlement. The Lehmann Prairie is an 11-acre remnant prairie protected by a conservation easement. The Riesel Prairie is a 5-acre remnant prairie owned by NPAT.

Prairie #5: Simpson Prairie, near Crawford

  • Prairie Guides: Marliss and Mike Williams
Remnant of the Grand Prairie (Lampasas Cut Plains of the Cross Timbers and Prairies) on a gently sloping hillside. Mike remembered seeing some native prairie before the area became overgrazed, located and identified it, and restored it with his wife Marliss. Protected by NPAT conservation easement.

Dinner in West; on your own dime
•    Picha’s Czech-American Restaurant
•    Two Amigos Mexican Restaurant
•    West Station Roadhouse Restaurant

10:30pm — Bus returns parking lot at Bath House Cultural Center

  • In case of harsh weather for June 3, the tour will be rescheduled.
  • Wear loose hiking clothes and sturdy shoes for prairie walking. Bring a hat, bug repellant, and sunscreen. Road snacks/beverages and books/etc to pass the time while traveling, plus back-up power for your phone, are good ideas.

Deadline for payment is May 10:

  • Cost for NPAT Members — $75.00
  • Cost for non-NPAT Members — $85.00
  • Notes on the prairie stops and a map will be provided.

Click here to register for this event.Contact Pat Rinn, NPAT, with any questions about registration.

For Additional Information
Contact Leigh Ann Ellis, 214.321.7159

Lehmann Prairie photos above courtesy NPAT

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Lehmann Prairie photo courtesy NPAT
Reisel Prairie photo courtesy NPAT
Simpson Prairie photo courtesy NPAT
Simpson Prairie photo courtesy NPAT
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Houston, We Have Species!

We Won!
Greater Houston WON Most Species Found
During City Nature Challenge, April 14-18

This post is a bit late. Most of you probably already know that Greater Houston recorded the most number of species in the entire USA during the City Nature Challenge!  Previously not posted: a summary of the entire City Nature Challenge is at http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2017  where there is a link to a quick 5 question survey. Please take that and let the organizers know your experience.

Interesting that the most observed species in all the cities is #1 mallard and #2 honey bee. Furthermore, Houston’s own Andy Newman is second of all the participants in the number of species he posted. Yay Andy!

A summary of Houston’s results: Thanks to all the 417 people in greater Houston who posted to iNaturalist during the City Nature Challenge 2017, the answer to the Challenge’s question “Which City Can Find the Most Nature?” is Greater Houston! We not only won in Texas, we won in the entire country with an official tally of 2419 species posted – just 18 more than Austin, with which we were neck and neck on the last day! Dallas won the most observations posted and Los Angelos won most number of people posting. We won the MOST IMPORTANT CATEGORY and were in the top five in the other two categories.

The person in greater Houston who posted the most observations is NPSOT-H’s Kelly Walker. Second is Andy Newman of Harris County Flood Control. The two in greater Houston who posted the most number of species are first Andy Newman and second, Jed Aplaca of Natural Resources Manager of Houston Park and Recreation Department.

Most of us already knew that greater Houston is incredibly diverse with our coastal prairie, seashore, coastal marches and wetlands, piney woods and forests, and riparian habitats. Now the entire nation knows, thanks to all those who participated in this year’s challenge. Please sharpen your skills for next year, when the City Nature Challenge goes international! Tip for next year: Jaime Gonzalez noted that no one took the Bolivar Ferry this year and posted dolphin as a species!

 

 

City Nature Challenge – Final Push & Wrap Up

Latest email from Sarah Flournoy of Houston Audubon, one of the people running the program for greater Houston area, about City Nature Challenge:

Hello City Nature Challenge Participants and Partners!

We all feel very proud that Houston (and Texas overall) has made quite a splash in our first year of the City Nature Challenge. We have a wonderful and growing community of naturalists.

There is one final push to victory, so please help!

All observations within the event period (April 14-18) must be uploaded and all IDs must be made by 11am (Central) on Sat, April 22. *Please upload any remaining observations. *Also, please help us make IDs so that we can engage/inspire iNat participants and so that we can increase our species counts. A lot can happen in the next couple of days as the various cities tie up loose ends. Please share this information and deadline with your communities.

If you haven’t already, check out our progress on the Texas LEADERBOARD here. Also, check out our Houston PROJECT PAGE so that you can explore local species, see top observers, and make IDS.

Thanks for your help in this one final push–and for all your help in the IDs, info sharing, and event coordination. Great first year!

—————–

There is still time to upload photos taken between 4/14-18.

Leaderboard nationally: https://nhm.org/nature/citizen-science/city-nature-challenge-2017-leaderboard

Leaderboard Texas: TPWD link

Note, Houston is still leading the nation in # species, but Austin is catching up fast 2308 vs 2293 as of 12:18. Please help maintain our lead – see below.

Thanks to Sarah Flournoy  for answers to some of Katy Emde’s questions! Jenn Drummond already sent to GCMN members Sarah’s email. If you did not get that, it is pasted at the bottom.

Q & A about the City Nature Challenge

1   What photos can still be uploaded onto iNaturalist?

Photos you took between April 14 – April 18 and that is time stamped as such.

2    When is the deadline for uploading photos? For identifying the species?

Saturday, April 22, 11 am CDT

3    We are ahead now on species count, but Austin is catching up fast. How can I help?

Go through the photos and help identify the species.

4    Do cultivated species count?

From Sarah: “Cultivated species DO COUNT for the challenge.

5.    How do I know which photos need to be identified:

    Go to Houston Challenge page. Click “observations” in left column. Then on the new page, click “filter” (upper right), click “needs ID” box (left), click “update” (bottom). It will show all observations needing IDs. I think they need two ID’s to confirm.

     Tips for ID: http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started#ident_confirm

6    How do I know, what species have been already posted for Houston Project?

Go to Houston Challenge page.  Click “species” in left column. Then on the new page, in the search box, start typing the genus (and species) name. When it shows up, click the box. Then the screen will show how many observations of that genus (and/or species) your project has recorded.

7.    Do I have to show a location for my photo to be aceepted to City Nature Challenge Houston Project?

Yes.

8.    My camera does not have location (or I turned location off to save battery), what do I do?

City Nature Challenge Houston project will not accept photos without a location, BUT, you can upload a photo and manually add the location. Note: I tried entering Deer Park Prairie, it did not take. So I used google maps to get the lat, long of a point on the prairie and manually entered that for each photo taken there. If you need help to get latitude & longitude off google maps, email Lan.shen@txgcmn.org

From Jenn Drummond (for email to her, send to Lan.Shen@txgcmn.org & I will forward):

If you’re having any trouble at all with uploading your observations, or if it seems like an insurmountable task because it goes slowly, please let me know; I’m sure I can offer some tips that will speed up the process or get it going for you….I had contemplated suggesting an upload-and-ID pizza party or something, but I don’t think we quite have time to get it together. If that sounds especially good to you, though, drop me a note and maybe some of us can meet up with laptops somewhere.

TODAY thru Sat, 4/22: Three UP (Urban Prairie)Team Opportunities

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THIS AFTERNOON, 4/20, at Carnegie Vanguard HS: 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
1501 Taft St, Houston, TX 77019, google map goo.gl/maps/9eaejUFV8m52.Telephone of school (713) 732-3690
We will be planting and seeding the Cargnegie Vanguard High School’s roof prairie garden along with teacher Jaime Scott and her students. If the parking lot is full of parents picking up their children at 3:00 pm, park on the neighborhood streets. RSVP to Lan.shen@txgcmn.org by 2:00 pm today to get my cell phone number.

Saturday, April 22, St. Thomas University, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Address of the Father Meyers Pocket Prairie is 4106 Graustark, 77006. Google map link: goo.gl/maps/Jq4Cbp9bQw92
Help university students and Dr. Shivas Amin plant the Father Meyers Pocket Prairie, rain or shine unless there is a safety issue. Rain is predicted for part of Saturday morning, so please dress accordingly. Event day contact is Dr. Cassidy Johnson at 832-746-7584. Free street parking is available, but do abide by the “no parking” signs. There is also a parking garage on Graustark for $5 fee. Above is the new sign to be installed shortly.

Saturday, April 22, Deer Park Prairie, 9:00 am – noon

Help maintain this platinum quality prairie by invasive control and weeding the demonstration garden. Someone will be at t1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, 77536. Please do not park directly in front of our neighbors’ houses. Please park in front of our house and along that side of the street or in the driveway. Please RSVP to Lan.shen@txgcmn.org by 6:30 am, 4/22, for event day contact phone number.

General workday attire/needs: long pants and closed toe shoes. Optional: hat, sunscreen, long-sleeved shirt, insect repellent, water. If you have them bring some garden tools like garden gloves, trowel and/or shovel.


City Nature Challenge:
https://nhm.org/nature/citizen-science/city-nature-challenge-2017-leaderboard
Houston is ahead in number of species! But Dallas got us beat by number of people posting and number of observations. However, photos taken with date stamp in the time period can be posted up to either Friday, April 21 or Saturday, April 22 and winners will be announced on Saturday, April 22 at noon. More information will be posted this afternoon (2/20) at the blog (right-hand column) at HoustonPrairie.org

If you are not an UP (Urban Prairie) Team member, please join our team of volunteers interested in helping at urban pocket prairies and/or to communicate about prairies. See UP Team information and a flyer at this link. Click the buttom below to get monthly emails on Urban Prairies activities that need your help!