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 LShen@katyprairie.org


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 prairiepartner@gmail.com.

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 prairiepartner@gmail.com.


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.

Nine Natives: An Actuality!

One tray of nine natives. Photo by Doris Heard.

Trays of nine natives ready for Bulb Mart. Photo by Doris Heard.










After many years, the Nine Natives Program is an actuality thanks to the Garden Club of Houston! (See our previous blogs on the Nine Natives: A Nine Natives Update to Celebrate National Pollinator Week and 9 Natives.)

At Bulb Mart on Friday, Saturday, October 12-13, Houston gardeners can buy a flat of 9 LOCAL native plants. From Doris Heard, Garden Club of Houston Member: “There are 18 plants [in 4-inch pots] in each flat and two of each species. So far we have put together 50 flats. There is some slight variation in [the] flats. I think they are going to be priced at $35.00 per flat.

These easy to grow native plants can be tucked into the existing garden and will benefit our native and migratory wildlife – the butterflies, birds, bees, and more.


Sally Hilliard, a Garden Club of Houston Member wrote:

[The] Bulb and Plant Mart … is going to be a fun event and has a lot that a native plant person could be interested in.

The Garden Club (GCH) has put a LOT of effort into promoting the 9 Native Initiative. Last year the GCH contributed funding to the video created by the Katie Prairie Conservancy about the 9 Natives Program. Then the Conservation Committee of the GCH has spent the last year growing out seeds of the 9 Natives. It used the Memorial Park greenhouses- members have been going every Friday all summer to tend the seedlings. It has flats of the 9 natives that it  plans on selling at the Bulb and Plant Mart next Friday and Saturday, the 12th and 13th.  In fact, it has dedicated a whole tent to the promotion and selling of the 9 Natives. It also will be handing out literature and showing the video (see above) on a TV screen.

Here is a link to the schedule. Notice that there is going to be a speaker, Susie Marten from the KPC, presenting on the 9 Natives on Friday at noon. Admission to the Bulb and Plant Mart is free so anyone attending can hear her speak.

Another great point is that there are many more native plants being sold at the Bulb and Plant Mart than ever before. There is a GCH chair person in charge of  ordering native plants, and there are many natives in the Tree, Shrub and Vine Booths (and maybe others). There is a conservation tent, too, and last year it had activities for kids, like making seed balls.

One final point is that proceeds benefit many great organizations in Houston including the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. The GCH also has given grant money to conservation organizations (such as the KPC) so the proceeds from the Bulb and Plant Mart support conservation efforts in many ways.


Fall 2018 KPC Seed Collecting Schedule

The Katy Prairie Conservancy has organized several seed collecting trips this fall, some to prairies not usually open to the public. All are welcome to participate. Take a look and sign up!

Seed collecting is a leisurely way to enjoy the prairie and learn about prairie grasses. Join friends and family for outdoor fun while gathering seeds ripe for collecting. No experience necessary as we work to support numerous organizations in the region. Make an impact and visit prairies often not open to the public.

Fall 2018 Seed Collecting Schedule

Hi Seed Collectors, 
Fall is the major seed collecting season for our coastal tallgrass prairie. Trips have been scheduled to collect at some of the best local prairies, so join us to enjoy a morning outdoors with fellow conservationists, learn from prairie experts, and help prairie habitats with your volunteerism.
KPC and Gulf Coast Master Naturalist volunteers, led by Theo Ostler, collect seeds at Houston Arboretum (HANC) on August 29, 2018. Emily Manderson, Conservation Director at HANC, dropped by to say hello and said that she was glad the seeds could be used for important restoration projects. Thanks to the volunteers who took seeds home to dry!
You may sign up starting now for any of these trips. Reminders will be sent to registrants the week of the event. We may also schedule some impromptu trips, such as one to the Houston Arboretum, when the purple top grass is ready to collect. To be put on the KPC seed collecting email list, send an email to LShen@katyprairie.org.
Monday, October 8th (Columbus Day) at UH Coastal Center in LaMarque
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Map of meeting location.
  • Please arrive promptly at 9:00 a.m. to enter the locked gate together.
  • If you register, you will be given an event day cell phone number that you can call, should you arrive late.
  • This is a great opportunity to see the UH Coastal Center, normally not open to the public. The Center contains about 300 acres of tallgrass prairie and is one of the earliest high-quality prairies that has been protected and you can view photos in this photo gallery.
Wednesday, October 10th at Deer Park Prairie
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Meet at 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, Texas 77536  (Google map).
  • Please do not park directly in front of neighbors’ houses.
  • Please do bring a signed liability release (NPAT) if you do not have one on file from the past year.
  • Carpool: Reply to this email for carpooling opportunity from the Kroger parking lot at S. Post Oak & W. Bellfort or from a residential area adjacent to S. Main & Buffalo Speedway.
  • The prairie is usually lovely at this time of year, as the gulf muhly should be in bloom, creating a purple pink mist broken by intensely colored blue sage and the bright yellows of the swamp sunflower and silkgrass.
Tuesday, October 16th at Nash Prairie
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Meet at Nash Prairie. Park on County Rd 255 (Orozimbo Rd.) and walk across the street to the prairie. We will meet at the start of the gravel road – the red marker on this map.
  • Carpool: Reply to this email for carpooling opportunity from the Kroger parking lot at S. Post Oak & W. Bellfort at 7:45 a.m.
Wednesday, November 14th at Deer Park Prairie
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Meet at 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, Texas 77536 (Google map).
  • Please do not park directly in front of neighbors’ houses.
  • Please do bring a signed NPAT liability release if you do not have one on file from the past year.
  • Carpool: Reply to this email for carpooling opportunity from the Kroger parking lot at S. Post Oak & W. Bellfort or from a residential area adjacent to S. Main & Buffalo Speedway.
Saturday, November 17th at Nash Prairie
  • Join us for a weekend seed collecting opportunity.
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Meet at Nash Prairie. Park on County Rd 255 (Orozimbo Rd.) and walk across the street to the prairie. We will meet at the start of the gravel road – the red marker on this map.
  • Carpool: Reply to this email for carpooling opportunity from the Kroger parking lot at S. Post Oak & W. Bellfort at 7:45 a.m.
Wednesday, December 12th at Deer Park Prairie
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Meet at 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, Texas 77035 (Google map)
  • Please do not park directly in front of neighbors’ houses.
  • Please do bring a signed NPAT liability release.
  • Carpool: Reply to this email for carpooling opportunity from the Kroger parking lot at S. Post Oak & W. Bellfort or from a residential area adjacent to S. Main & Buffalo Speedway.
General Instructions:  
  • Everyone is welcome!
  • At KPC and Deer Park Prairie, you may collect for KPC, for any other non-profit organization, or for your own personal use.
  • If you have them, please bring pruners or scissors, a bucket or a reusable grocery bag, and a pen. Supplies are available if needed.
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. We recommend you bring hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, a long-sleeved shirt, and a camera.
  • Water and light snack are usually available.

Links to Whooping Crane Recovery Presentation & YouTube Video


Whooping Crane Recovery

Presented by Dr. Wade Harrell, the U.S. Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge at the August 22, 2018 HNPAT meeting

 Dr. Wade Harrell, the U.S. Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, presented on Whooping Crane conservation. As a fifth generation Texan with a passion for conservation, his early years in South Texas afforded him his enthusiasm for wildlife, marine life and ecosystems. He has degrees from Texas A&M-Kingsville and Oklahoma State University. After obtaining his PhD in rangeland ecology in 2004, he returned to Texas and served with The Nature Conservancy for six years. In 2009, Dr. Harrell began to work at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where he led a team of biologists in restoring and maintaining diverse wildlife habitats.

Hear is a link to a PDF of his presentation, which we are sharing with his permission:



Also, here is a link to the video that Dr. Harrell wanted to show at the meeting but didn’t have time:

Whooping Cranes, On the Right Track – Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]

4.6K views3 years ago

On the Right Track Follow along as biologists track Whooping Cranes at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Using satellite GPS …


Deer Park Prairie Fall Prairie Day, September 29, 2018 – Updated 9/20/18

Fall Prairie Day

Saturday, September 29, 2018

9:30 a.m. –  2:00 p.m.

Members, supporters, friends, and neighbors are invited to visit the
Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve
1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park 77536
(Please do not park directly in front of our neighbors’ houses)

Please join us for our Fall Prairie Day to enjoy the wildflowers and wildlife at Deer Park Prairie. Come and see prairie plants that you can use in your urban garden to attract pollinators. Join us in a seed collecting walk and learn how to collect prairie plant seeds from the wild for your garden. You are encouraged to take some seeds home to grow in your garden.

Update 9/19/2018: The prairie is VERY wet, so depending on the weather during the next week, you may want to bring rubber boots.

Bring also your camera or smart phone to take pictures of the different species of plants and animals that you see to post on the Deer Park Prairie project on iNaturalist.org.

Click here for link to printable flyer in pdf.


  • 7:30 a.m. | Bird survey (Prairie only open to those joining the bird survey)
  • 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Prairie open to visitors
  • 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Insect net sweeping – by Chuck DuPlant at the Insect Popup Tent
  • 9:30 a.m. – ~noon | Join the Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston’s Fall Field Trip led by Katy Emde
  • 10:00 a.m. – ~ noon | Plant Survey/Transect led by NPAT’s Pat Merkord.  See how NPAT performs its annual plant survey on lands it conserves.
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. | Seed Collecting Techniques / Prairie History walk. Visitors are welcome to take some seed home.
  • Noon – 1:00 p.m. | Complimentary lunch – registration required, click here
  • 2:00 p.m. | at La Porte Public Library, 600 S Broadway St, La Porte, TX 77571. Talk by HNPAT’s Lan Shen on Prairie Plants for Pollinators in Urban Gardens

Please Register HERE

or at https://tinyurl.com/DPP180929,

especially, if you are planning to

enjoy lunch with us.

A Nine Natives Update to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

Download the Nine Natives booklet here!

Click photo of this Nine Natives booklet cover to download a copy


HNPAT celebrates National Pollinator Week, June 18-24, with this update on the Nine Natives program, first introduced  in 2013. Although this program languished in the intervening years, recent concerns about the steeply declining population of pollinators (bees, butterflies, birds, bats and more) generated renewed effort last year and led to the debut of the Nine Natives booklet this spring. Click here to get the larger size file, suitable for printing.

This booklet resulted from a collaboration of the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), especially its Houston Chapter (HNPAT), Coastal Prairie Partnership (CPP), Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC), and Clark Condon Landscape Architecture. Jaime Gonzalez of CPP and Beth Clark of Clark Condon, recently at the Gulf Coast Green Symposium, gave a presentation of the concept. A copy of their presentation is available here.

In recent years, the mantra for gardeners has been, “Plant natives for pollinators and local wildlife because our local native plants have been supporting and co-existing with our pollinators and wildlife for thousands of years.” Local conservationists postulated that, if a multitude of gardens plant at least nine local natives, that would significantly benefit our local pollinators and other wildlife.

However, for gardeners totally new to native plants, how would they start? What plants are local natives? What local native plants are commercially available, either in the form of seed or starter plants? What are the growing conditions these natives require? What combination of native plants would look good together?

These are exactly the questions that the Nine Natives booklet try to address. The booklet recommends nine plants native to the greater Houston region plus four alternatives.  The plants were chosen for their commercial availability, their benefits to local pollinators and wildlife, their aesthetic appeal, and their ease of growth.

The nine native plants can be tucked into established gardens or planted together in a special Nine Natives garden. Clark Condon Landscape Architect provided two designs using these nine natives for the home garden and two designs using them in 16 feet street medians and in 50 feet street medians. In the brochure is also pictorially depicted a prairie planting project by Clark Condon.

A sample page from the Nine Natives booklet


The criteria, used in recommending the plants are:

  • Native to the geographic area. For us, it was Greater Houston (Harris and surrounding counties). Local native plants are those listed as such in county maps of either USDA Plant Database or BONAP
  • Not a cultivar (Cultivars can be used in the garden, but would not count as one of the Nine Natives.)
  • Commercially available – either the seed or potted plants
  • Be highly beneficial to local wildlife
  • Adapted to average local soil, moisture, sun
  • Have a high chance of persistence
  • Will be compatible in urban or suburban settings

Although the Nine Natives booklet’s recommendations are for the greater Houston area, the concept can be used anywhere. Said Jaime Gonzalez, one of the two who initially conceived Nine Natives, ‘From the beginning the Nine Natives partners all expressed an interest in making Nine Natives an “open source” concept, meaning that other groups and the general public could use the concept as a starting point to innovate around the use of native plantings here in Houston and beyond… So, in my opinion, just like open source software, no one and everyone owns Nine Natives.’

We hope, when others use the Nine Natives concept, they will stay true to the basic premise of recommending only non-cultivar versions of local native plants, for these plants provide the most benefit to local pollinators and wildlife.


Other Nine Natives resources: www.katyprairie.org/nine-natives/