City Nature Challenge 2019

Help Houston Win the City Nature Challenge (, April 26 – April 29!

Cities around the world will be competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the 2019 City Nature Challenge.

To participate is quite easy:

  • Open a free account on iNaturalist
  • Take photos or record sound (e.g. birds, frogs) of living organisms; record location of this observation. Observations must be made and posted between April 26 – April 29.
  • Post your observations on iNaturalist. Either take the photo with location feature on or enter the location manually later on the computer.
  • You do not need to ID your observations.

Photo from

For your observation to count for Houston, it must be within the area on the map here: (scroll down).

Organized events for CNC in greater Houston are listed at this link. Learn more about living organisms on the prairie at these two prairie CNC events:

  • Deer Park Prairie’s Spring Wildflower Day on Saturday, April 27. More information at this blog:
  • Katy Prairie Conservancy’s CNC event at Matt Cook Viewing Platform & Rockhollow Creek on Sunday, April 28. More information here.

See below for the CNC ID Party at the Houston Arboretum on May 1.

City Nature Challenge ID Party

Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinars

The USFWS has partnered with the Monarch Joint Venture to develop a series of webinars on monarch biology, monitoring, and conservation: Use this link to register for upcoming webinars or for links to recorded webinars, if you are like me and forget or do not have time to participate in a live webinar.

Webinars to date for 2019:

  • The first webinar of the 2019 Monarch Conservation Series Webinar Title: Western Monarch Population down by 99%: How you can help. Date/Time: Tuesday, February 26th at 2PM ET (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific
  • Monarch Butterfly Population Modeling. Date/Time: Tuesday, March 19th at 2PM EDT (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)
  • Monarchs in a Web of Life: Predators, Parasites, and Disease.  Date/Time: Tuesday, March 26th at 2PM EDT (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)

View recorded webinars at . Click the desired video title under the “video screen”



Fantastic Plant Database by Larry Allain

Many of you might remember years ago, the wonderful CD with Larry Allain’s plant database that was no longer useable after Windows XP expired. Now that data and more is on the web! Location

Although the database is titled “Plants of Louisiana”, it contains many, many of the plants found in Greater Houston, the plants of the coastal prairie habitat. This database is searchable by scientific name or common name or PLANT CHARACTER. This last would be useful to identify a plant.

Character Search page

Below is the type of data given for the plant Indian plantain

Arnoglossum ovatum

Arnoglossum ovatum p2

Information on individual plants include features that will help identify the plant such as height, leaf shape, leaf margin, bloom time… as well as propagation and cultural information and wildlife usage and so much more.

The only information lacking for us in Texas are the counties where a particular plant occurs. However, that can be found by cross referencing the plant, using preferably the scientific name, on the USDA Plant database ( ) or BONAP (


April HNPAT Meeting:

Wildlife of Maddin Prairie after 20 Years Restoration

by Pat Merkord, President of NPAT Board
Wednesday, April 24, 2019; 6:30 p.m. social / 7:00 p.m. program starts
Red Cross Building, 2700 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77098
For more information and see prairie dog photo, go to our home page:

North American Prairie Conference: June 2-5 at UH Clear Lake

Exciting news: 25th biennial North American Prairie Conference (NAPC), America’s oldest and most celebrated native grassland gathering, is coming to Texas for only the second time since the conference was founded in 1968 and for the first time in 30 years. This year’s conference whose theme is “Healthy Prairies, Healthy Watershed will be held at University of Houston – Clear Lake, June 2-5, 2019.

The conference is already bringing in some of the biggest names in prairie conservation, including Carol Davit (TEDx talk) from the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Drs. Dwayne Estes and Reed Noss of the Southeastern Grassland Initiative, Dr. Chris Helzer (Prairie Ecologist blog) from The Nature Conservancy, and local expert Dr. John Jacobs.  The conference aims to bring together ecologists, conservationists, landowners, artists, volunteers – prairie experts and enthusiasts of all backgrounds – from across the nation to learn about the conservation and restoration of North America’s legacy landscape. Also included are field trips to the diverse Texas Coastal Prairie region.

Registration has already started at the website,

Please help us in getting the word out about the conference. Click on the image above to download the social media card and click on this link for the press release which includes the agenda. We would appreciate, if you could circulate both to your family, friends, members and colleagues and include in your organization’s newsletter, social media sites, and on your calendar.

Want to make a difference and become a conference sponsor? Please go to to view levels and benefits. Should you have any questions, please contact The Coastal Prairie Partnership, fiscal agent of the conference, as well as the other three co-presenters are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.

If your organization would like to have an information booth at the conference, please go to this page to register for the booth: Please note, registering for an exhibitor booth does not entitle exhibitors to conference attendance.

The call for proposals is on-going. All interested participants are encouraged to respond. For more details, click here. The review process for abstracts has begun, and the last day of submissions has been extended to April 22, 2019.

The 2019 North American Prairie Conference is co-sponsored by the Katy Prairie Conservancy, the Coastal Prairie Partnership, The Native Prairies Association of Texas, the Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston Clear Lake.

We hope to see you at the conference in June!


Free: Gardening with Prairie Plants & Milkweed Propagation Workshop

For the 5th year, Mark Morgenstern of Morning Star Prairie Plants and Barbara Willy of Monarch Gateway will be offering their free workshop at Brazos Bend State Park (BBSP). Afterwards will be tours to the BBSP pocket prairie, then to Mark Morgenstern’s home prairie garden and nursery, and finally to Nash Prairie, a platinum quality remnant. At Mark’s nursery, there will be an opportunity to purchase prairie plants that he had talked about and to see how he raises these plants from local native seeds.

RSVP required: Click here.  Get PDF of flyer here.

190331 prairie plant prop workshop v 190228

190331 prairie plant prop workshop v 190228 p2




Julie d’Ablaing – Prairie Volunteer Award

Congratulations to Julie d’Ablaing, the first recipient of HNPAT’s 2018 Prairie Volunteer Award! Please join us in celebrating Julie’s achievement at the 2018 Prairie Stampede, Wednesday, 11/28/18, at Houston Zoo Brown Education Building (Gate 8, not main gate). Doors open at 6:00 pm.

HNPAT (Houston Chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas) board voted to present it’s first Greater Houston Prairie Volunteer Award to Julie d’Ablaing for her dedication to conserving, restoring, and learning about and teaching about our local prairies that span various conservation organizations.
HNPAT knows Julie as a volunteer to Deer Park prairie who has collected seeds, sought prairie remnants, and participated in prairie maintenance workday and prairie surveys. She is always eager to learn about our  prairie plants. Many HNPAT members  remember Julie‘s presentation at an HNPAT meeting on how she was able to convince her neighbors in allowing her to install a pocket prairie in their easement and how she organized a boy scout troop to do that. Her wonderful presentation showed the progress of the pocket prairie year by year.
The Houston Audubon Society and HAS volunteers know Julie as a tireless volunteer for their Natives Nursery, as someone who stepped up during Flo Hannah’s illness and helped as a volunteer run the nursery.  Houston Audubon’s Natives Nursery grows ‘Real Deal‘ native prairie plants for gardens and prairie restorations over the Greater Houston area.  Many organizations use these prairie plants to restore and conserve our local prairies.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy knows Julie as a leading volunteer for its field nursery, seed collecting efforts, plant rescues, and other KPC activities involved in conserving and restoring our prairies. Julie is an invaluable advisor and active volunteer who helped maintain, provide plants, and organize invasive removals at the pocket prairies of Westside High School and Frostwood Elementary, two of KPC’s Prairie Builder Schools.
To Texas Master Naturalist, Gulf Coast Chapter’s Plant Propation Program (PPP), Julie was a valuable volunteer whose organization ability while the PPP program was at Hermann Park was much appreciated.
Julie‘s volunteerism, very diverse prairie activities, and tremendous impact on conservation, restoration, and education of our local prairies has earned her HNPAT’s first annual Greater Houston Prairie Volunteer Award.
Please join us in celebrating Julie’s award at the Prairie Stampede.

11/28/18 Prairie Stampede Previews

It’s not too late to sign up! Register here (scroll down for parking info)

Check out who we are honoring (see flyer below). In the next blog, read about Julie d’Ablaing, recipient of HNPAT’s (Houston Chapter – Native Prairie Association) first annual Greater Houston Area Prairie Volunteer Award. At the Stampede, a presentation will spotlight high level highlights of what each group accomplished for prairies. Powerpoints submitted for presentation by HNPAT, GCMN (Gulf Coast Master Naturalists), and NPSOTH (Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston) are previewed below.

Due to parking problems (Zoo Lights attracts MANY visitors), best to get to Houston Zoo as close to 6:00 pm as possible. Enter side entrance, Gate 8 to Brown Education Center.

Previews of the spotlights sent for presentation at the stampede:


GCMN (Texas Master Naturalist, Gulf Coast Chapter)

NPSOTH (Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston)

Oct. & Nov. 2018 Prairie Events & More

Scroll down for information on these events:

  • Wild About Houston Film Festival, Wednesday, October 17
  • Pocket Prairie Workday at MD Anderson: Thursday, October 18
  • Restoration Roundup at Texas City Prairie Preserve, Friday, October 19
  • Activities of PRAIRIES & POLLINATORS: A REGIONAL CELEBRATION, SEPT. 22 – NOV. 10, 2018. Click here for updates on all events across the Greater Houston region.
  • Prairie Stampede: An Awards Potluck for the Prairie Community – all welcome, Wednesday, November 28
  • Save the date: North American Prairie Conference at UH Clear Lake, June 2-5, 2019


Wild About Houston Film Festival, Wednesday, October 17

A screening of short, local, environmental films that tell the story of local environmental issues, their champions, and how you can make a difference. More info at CEC website and at CEC facebook page

Rice Media Center, 2030 University Blvd, near Stockton and University.

6:30 PM conversation, networking, and a light meal
7:00 PM film screening.

Free to the public, though donations are kindly appreciated.


Pocket Prairie Workday at MD Anderson: Thursday, October 18

9 am – 12 pm: Ryan Middleton of Katy Prairie Conservancy will be leading this quarterly maintenance of the MD Anderson Prairie: seed, and weed. Jaime Gonzalez will also be there representing The Nature Conservancy. For more information, to RSVP, and to be informed about the parking situation, email


Restoration Roundup at Texas City Prairie Preserve, Friday, October 19: REGISTER HERE


Activities of PRAIRIES & POLLINATORS: A REGIONAL CELEBRATION, SEPT. 22 – NOV. 10, 2018. Click here for details on all events across the Greater Houston region.


Prairie Stampede: An Awards Potluck for the Prairie Community – all welcome, Wednesday, November 28


The Houston Zoo has extremely generously donated the use of the Brown Education Center for the annual HNPAT & CPP (Coastal Prairie Partnership) Prairie Stampede – the Awards Potluck – on Wednesday, November 28, ~6:30 p.m. to 8:30p.m. When Cherie Flores Pavilion and Hermann Park Conservancy informed us in January of this year that we would no longer be able to hold collaborative events (events jointly sponsored by HNPAT and another non-profit organization) and that they could cancel our reservation at extremely short notice (once on the day of the event), the Houston Zoo came to the rescue and donated the use of the wonderful Brown Education Center for this event!

More information, including a signup sheet for the potluck, will be coming about this event. Some of the awards to be presented are:

Dick Benoit Upper Texas Coast Prairie Award – This award recognizes someone from the Upper Texas Coast area, oftentimes Greater Houston, who is contributing to coastal prairie conservation, education, etc. This award is for recent work not a career of achievement. This award is voted on by the general public. Send nominations to

Prairie Excellence Award – This award recognizes career achievement in coastal prairie conservation. This award is selected by the CPP Board. The CPP board will gladly take suggestions for this award. Send suggestions to


Save the date: North American Prairie Conference at UH Clear Lake, June 2-5, 2019

From the conference planning committee:

From June 2-5, 2019 the Houston prairie community will host the 25th North American Prairie Conference. This marks only the second time that the conference will be held in Texas and the first held in the Lone Star State since the 1980s. The theme of the conference is Healthy Prairies, Healthy Watersheds and is being co-presented by the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Katy Prairie Conservancy, Native Prairies Association of Texas, and the Coastal Prairie Partnership.  

We are currently requesting presentation submissions and sponsorships. Please tell folks in your network about this very special event and mark your calendars.
Quick Links:

9/2018 News: Fall Prairie Day; Fundraiser; Bird List

Scroll down for HNPAT’s September Fundraiser Appeal results

Four hardy souls who came to Fall Prairie Day in spite of the rain!


This year’s Fall Prairie Day on September 29 was essentially cancelled due to weather. The official events such as lunch, insect tent, etc. were cancelled during mid-week due to predictions of inclement weather.  Some volunteers were still planning to continue with their activities such as Pat Merkord’s transects, Damien Carey’s bird survey, Glenn Merkord’s workday, NPSOTH field trip, and of course the indoor “Prairie Plants for Pollinators in Urban Gardens” talk at the La Porte Library.

For the Bird Survey, Damien Carey had sent the following list of birds observed during the past year: LDPP Bird list 082017-082018

However, on Saturday morning the weather radar and outside weather conditions were so dismal – rain and fog and fronts coming in – that almost all activities were cancelled. The Merkords called and said they were not coming in. Although, in accordance with NPSOTH tradition, Katy Emde and I (Lan Shen) showed up at the Memorial Park meeting place, we had no takers for the field trip.

Since I had to be in La Porte eventually for the talk, I drove from Memorial Park to Deer Park Prairie and arrived about 9:30 am and found Chuck Duplant ready to volunteer for the workday; he left, since that was cancelled.

Also there were four hardy souls eager for a tour! They had rain boots and rain gear. Since it was only lightly raining, we set out. Linda and Steven are experience foragers and wanted to know what prairie plants are edible. That stumped me beyond the common dewberry and  boneset, which is blooming now. Late flowering boneset (Eupatorium serotinum) was used by Native Americans and early settlers as an herbal medicine to relieve the symptoms of dengue fever, an illness that cause such severe muscle spasms that the bones felt like they were breaking.  According to Wikipedia, which I later looked up, the Eupatorium also contains some chemicals toxic to human liver, so should be used with caution.

Linda and Steven, however, were happy to collect seeds. Suzi took pictures and some seeds. Kelly Walker’s friend Tom was comparing plants of DPP with the ones in the natural area that he manages in Dallas. Unfortunately Kelly was feeling ill from allergies – understandably, since the first plants we encountered after stepping onto the prairie were ragweeds in bloom.

Since the ground was so wet, I took the opportunity to easily pull up volunteer swamp sunflowers in the demonstration garden and gave them to Linda and Steven, to high school student Tom at the La Porte Library talk, and to Barbara Willy on Sunday, when NPAT had the state board meeting at the prairie house at DPP. They all received an armful.

Come to Deer Park Prairie on Wednesday, October 10 to help spruce up the demonstration garden and take home the extra plants!


Results of HNPAT’s September Fundraiser

Thanks to all who donated to HNPAT’s (Houston Chapter – Native Prairies Association of Texas) September Fundraiser! This fundraiser is in lieu of a silent auction fundraiser, which we have had at the past two Prairie Stampedes.

The monies raised will support us for 2019: for meeting facility, for speakers fees and travel expenses, for special events such as Prairie Days at Deer Park Prairie, moth night, and members’ event. Special thanks to Glenn Merkord and Frank Ohrt and others who reduce our meeting expenses by bring food to the meetings and to Mark and Drea Morgenstern who donate prairie plants for meeting attendees.

According to NPAT (our parent state organization) all chapters must have one fundraiser per year with 25% of the proceeds to be donated to NPAT to support its work throughout the state and its administration expenses. Since two years ago, all established chapters of NPAT must raise their own operating expenses; membership dues to NPAT are no longer shared with the chapters.

Our results: We raised $800 on the email campaign, $550 on Mary Waters’ Birthday Facebook fundraiser, plus another $500 from Mary  Waters’ company’s gift matching program, bringing the grand total to $1850. NPAT’s share will be $462.50; we will add $1,387.50 to our bank account for next year.

Although the official fundraiser is over, we take donations throughout the year! To donate to HNPAT (your Houston Chapter), go to this link, scroll down to the “Make a Donation” box, write in the amount, and then in the “Comment” box write “This donation is for the Houston Chapter – HNPAT“.  Or you may bring your donation check to the meeting and give it to either Hazel Potvin, our treasurer, or Mary Waters, our president. If writing a check, please write “For HNPAT” on the memo line.