UH Coastal Center Open for City Nature Challenge Participants: Gates open on Friday, April 30 Morning

The University of Houston Coastal Center, located in La Marque, is the home of the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education.  The 925-acre site is a mosaic of pristine coastal tallgrass prairie, wetlands, forest, and coastal prairie in the process of restoration.  The UHCC is a fenced and gated facility, but participants in the Houston City Nature Challenge will be welcome on Friday, April 30.  

The gates will be open from 8 am to 9 am and from 11 am to noon.  A UHCC representative will be at the gate to sign you in.  When you sign in, you will be given a number to call when you are ready to leave so that the gate can be opened.  We will sign people out as well (especially since we don’t want to leave anyone behind a locked gate!).  We ask that visitors finish their surveys by 2:30 PM.   

It would be a good idea to wear long pants and close-toed shoes, especially if you plan to walk out on the prairie.  A hat is a good idea.   

There are restrooms in the lab building, which will be open.  Park in the back of the building and enter through the double doors.   

I will be on site all day.   


Here are directions and attached map for the UH Coastal Center in La Marque.  Google maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/RXaN3aHo9TQYqiBe8

The street address is:  5721 Highway 2004, La Marque, TX 77568…

The U of H Coastal Center is located south of Houston off of I-45 (Gulf Frwy.) next to the La Marque Dog Track.  Take the FM 1764-West exit from I-45 (Exit #15) and go WEST.  DON’T take the FM 1764-East exit!  After you exit onto the service road and reach the stoplight at the intersection with FM 1764, turn right (west) IF YOU ARE COMING FROM HOUSTON.  IF YOU ARE COMING FROM GALVESTON, turn left (west) underneath the freeway. Next, make a left at the stoplight intersection onto FM 2004 and follow the road for about 1/4 mile.  A Whataburger will be on one side of FM 2004 and the dog track will be on the other side of FM 2004.  The road will join another and turn to the right.  Go about 1/2 mile further on FM 2004 and the U of H Coastal Center will be on the right just beyond the dog track.  The UH Coastal Center/Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education  is surrounded by a fence with a sign at the gate.    Evelyn Evelyn L. Merz, M.B.A.Program DirectorUH Coastal CenterThe Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education5721 Highway 2004; La Marque, TX  77568

Deer Park Prairie open for City Nature Challenge 2021 on May 1, 10am – 2pm

It’s April – City Nature Challenge Month!

CNC is a worldwide contest: everyone can participate and help Greater Houston win!

Don’t know what this is? Join the Houston – Native Plant Society of Texas (H-NPSOT) on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 7 p.m. to learn from TWPD biologist Craig Hensley on how to use iNaturalist and participate (for newbies) and how your data is used (for past participants). Register for the Zoom meeting where you can ask questions via chat or view the talk on Youtube Live.

Also view previous blog to learn more about the Houston-Galveston area CNC -from Jaime Gonzalez, one of the CNC coordinators for this area.

The over 50 acres of Deer Park Prairie will be open to CNC participants to take photos.

  • Date & Time: Saturday, May 1, 2021 between 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
  • Location: 1222 East Purdue Lane, Deer Park, TX 77536
  • Visitors must bring a signed copy of the liability release and sign in at the back porch.
  • Please add your photos to the Deer Park Prairie project on iNaturalist (www.inaturalist.org/projects/deer-park-prairie-biodiversity)
  • Normal visitation rules:
    • Minors must be accompanied by an adult
    • No firearms, motor vehicles, alcohol, or smoking on the prairie
    • No loud music or noise – it disturbs the wildlife
    • Leave only footsteps and take only photos: please take out your trash and do not pick flowers, seeds, plants.
  • The house will NOT be open – there will be no bathroom facilities
  • Please abide by Covid-19 guidelines:
    • Facemasks are mandatory in the front, side, and backyard of the house. Facemasks are mandatory when around others not in your household
    • Practice social distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from others not in your household. With over 50 acres, there should be sufficient space on the prairie for social distancing.
    • Groups of more than 10 are not allowed.

Photos of CNC at Deer Park Prairie

City Nature Challenge (CNC) ended over a month ago. However, for completeness, we are blogging the result (scroll to the bottom) and showing some photos of CNC at Deer Park Prairie on our Spring Prairie Day. If you think the activities look interesting, SAVE THE DATE and join us on our Fall Prairie Day, September 28, 2018. More information on exact times for the Fall Prairie Days are forthcoming.

Visitors first met Mary Waters, President of HNPAT, at the registration table. Then they had opportunities to join iNaturalist instructions session by Kelly Reierson, a plant walk led by Jane Reierson aided by Wally Ward, and an insect segment by Chuck Duplant, who captured the insect by sweep netting and then put them in the Petri dish for better viewing and identification. Hazel Potvin and Silvia Gederberg provided the food. Thanks to all who helped make this an enjoyable day.

The City Nature Challenge results were summarized by Sarah Flournoy of Houston Audubon who wrote: “Nature Challenge 2018 has drawn to a close, and Houston definitely brought it! Houston came in first for species identified in Texas and in SECOND for the WORLD for number of identified species (barely behind San Francisco Bay, the host of CNC). A special thanks to everyone that participated in observing and IDing our 22,000 observations. It is clear that Houston is home to a dedicated and talented group of naturalists!

More information at

The second link shows that for greater Houston, 3 of the top 6 observers are HNPAT members!

Last Day To Take Photos for City Nature Callenge!

Today is the LAST DAY to take photos of living things for City Nature Challenge. However, as long as your photos have today’s time stamp, you have from May 1 – May 3 to upload and identify.

As of 9:00 a.m. April 30, Houston is

  • 4th in number of species
  • 8th in number of people participating (Dallas is 8th overall, we are just about 30 people behind)
  • 9th in number of observations (Dallas is third overall)

Last chance to move Houston up. See citynaturechallenge.org/leaderboard/

By the way, I was told there were several events on City Nature Challenge – Houston Facebook page that was not entered on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept CNC events website. Check to see if there are any today.


It’s Started: City Nature Challenge!!!

Updates & Progress as of noon 4/27/2018

Hey we need to get some posting. See below for link to Worldwide Leaderboard. Houston is nowhere near the top. It’s early yet – let’s up the game!

Also, scroll to bottom for an email update about problem “joining” the City Nature Challenge-Houston project.

Check https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2018-houston for progress in Houston

Local leaders :

Instructions & Texas Leaderboard: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/naturechallenge/

Worldwide Leaderboard: http://citynaturechallenge.org/leaderboard/

***   Link for CNC Events in Greater Houston   ***

(Note: I took the TPWD master list and isolated the Greater Houston Events, put them in chronological order.).

Silvia Gederberg had problem joining the CNC-houston project and received this email reply (I did the red highlighting):

From: iNaturalist Support <help@inaturalist.org>
Subject: Re: Problem joining City Nature Challenge 2018 Houston project
Date: April 27, 2018 at 11:15:11 AM CDT
Hi Silvia,
City Nature Challenge projects were converted to our new “collection” style projects (described here). One cannot join a collection project, because one cannot manually submit an observation to the project – if the observation fits the project’s parameters it is automatically shown when the project page is loaded. So it removes the extra step of adding your observation to the project. If your observation is made within the boundaries and time frame of the Houston CNC project, it will show up there automatically.
There is a “follow” option for this type of project, which notifies you if the project creates a new journal post.
It is an oversight that there is a “join” button on the app, which we will hopefully fix soon. I apologize for the confusion

On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 7:42 AM, SILVIA GEDERBERG wrote:

I just tried to join again on my iPhone app and got this error:
the operation couldn’t complete…

2018 Spring Prairie Day & City Nature Challenge Event

Please join us to celebrate Spring Prairie Day on Saturday, April 28 at Deer Park Prairie. Enjoy the spring wildflowers and prairie wildlife along with a bit of history and photography. Because the Deer Park Prairie has never been plowed, the landscape here looks much as it did in 1836, when the soldiers marched to the Battle of San Jacinto, less than 10 miles away. See schedule in the flyer and scroll down for City Nature Challenge information. If you plan to enjoy a complimentary lunch with us, please RSVP, so we can have a food count.

In an effort to help Houston win the City Nature Challenge (https://houstonprairie.org/2017houcnc/ & https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/naturechallenge/), we will be offering a short lesson on use of iNaturalist and will have plant walks and insect sweep netting. Bring your camera or smart phone to take pictures of all the species of plants and animals that you see and post on iNaturalist.org

City Nature Challenge.

Everyone can join the fun & it’s easy! You just need a camera (or camera on smartphone) to take some pictures of nature and upload the photos onto iNaturalist.org


Greater Houston is competing against 6 other Texas regions, plus 60+ cities around the world in the 2018 City Nature Challenge on iNaturalist.  Of the three categories (most participants, most species found, most observations posted) last year, Greater Houston won the “most species” category (2017 results).  Greater Houston includes the following counties:  Harris, Galveston, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller.  For more information, check www.tpwd.texas.gov/naturechallenge.


Save these dates:  City Nature Challenge 2018

Some pertinent websites:

Events Prairies: March & April

Sundew, Deer Park Prairie by D. Verser, 2/29/2012

Spring has sprung in Houston and it’s time to go out in nature. In greater Houston, that means many events on the prairie are here and upcoming. See summary below and scroll down for details:

  • Tonight (3/8/18): Benigno & Newman of Harris County Flood Control talk on “A Tale of Two Prairies” at Sierra Club meeting
  • Check out all upcoming Urban Prairie events:
  • Saturday, March 17: Bellaire Garden Club plant sale at Nature Discovery Center (7112 Newcastle, Bellaire) has an assortment of native prairie plants. Click here for more information.


Tonight from Sierra Club email:

March 8, 2018 – A Tale of Two Prairies

At [Houston Sierra Club’s] March 8, 2018 meeting, we will have a presentation of “A Tale of Two Prairies”, the green version of the Charles Dickens classic. (“It was the best of prairies… etc.”) This is a program for prairie lovers and habitat restoration fans. [The] guest speakers will be Stephen Benigno and Andrew Newman of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), who will update us on their prairie restoration projects.
The event is free and open to the public at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1805 West Alabama, Houston. Main program starts 7:30 PM. Doors open 7:00 PM.


March & Upcoming UP (Urban Prairie) Team Events

As always, keep checking the UP Team calendar (tinyurl.com/UPTeamCal). Events emails are only sent out once per month, but the calendar is kept updated as information comes in. Click on the event and then the “more details” to show all details, including meeting place and parking specifics. Each event has at least one contact person.
If you are planning to attend an event , please RSVP to the contact person shown on the calendar so that person could let you know of any changes.   

March, 2018

For more information, go to tinyurl.com/UPTeamCal
  • Saturday, March 3 (1st Saturdays): Hermann Park, http://tinyurl.com/UPTeamCalBayou Savannah Workday (near 6520 Almeda)
  • Monday, March 5 (1st Mondays): Nature Discovery Center. NO WORKDAY.
  • New!  Wednesday, March 7 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday for the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (HANC) and  Memorial Park Conservancy (MPC) joint project to grow prairie plants for savannah restorations at HANC. Project Leader Allen Brymer is also there Thursday and Monday mornings. Anyone who wants to volunteer on these days need to first contact Allen at abrymer@katyprairie.org . 9am – noon
  • Thursday, March 8 (2nd & 4th Thursdays): Native (and mostly prairie) plant propagation at City of Houston Greenhouse in Memorial Park, 9:00am – noon
  • Saturday, March 10 (2nd Saturdays): Hermann Park, Whistlestop Prairie Workday (near entrance to Japanese Garden), 9:00am – noon
  • Wednesday, March 14 (2nd Wednesdays): Deer Park Prairie Workday, 9:00a – noon. Last month’s workdays were cancelled, so help is needed to clean up and cut back the demonstration garden. Free Plants:  Extra plants that we pull out are free to take home. Lots of frogfruit and swamp sunflower among others.
  • Wednesday, March 14 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.
  • NEW! Friday, March 16 (3rd Fridays): 9am – noon. Memorial Park Conservancy, Conservation Crew, Kayak/Canoe Access (Woodway, immediately west of 610), invasive control and working on a recently planted restoration project. 9 am – noon. Contact volunteer@memorialparkconservancy.org for more information, since location differs each month.
  • Wednesday, March 21 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.
  • Thursday, March 22 (2nd & 4th Thursdays): Native (and mostly prairie) plant propagation at City of Houston Greenhouse at Memorial Park, 9:00am – noon
  • Saturday, March 24 (4th Saturdays): Deer Park Prairie Workday. 9:00am -noon. Come and see the early spring wildflowers!  Especially NEEDED: Exxon Mobile employees, retirees, and/or immediately family members to form a team and earn a $500 donation from Exxon Mobile. The effort is led by retiree Allen Potvin and his wife Hazel, board member of Houston Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas. For more information or to RSVP: HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org
  • Saturday, March 24 (4th Saturdays): Hermann Park, Bayou Savannah Workday (near 6520 Almeda), 9:00am -noon
  • Wednesday, March 28 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.

Upcoming in April

For more information & RSVP contact, go to tinyurl.com/UPTeamCal
  • Monday, April 2 (1st Mondays): Nature Discovery Center. Monday Morning Gardening, 9:30 am noon.
  • Wednesday, April 4 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.
  • Saturday, April 7 (1st Saturdays): Hermann Park, Bayou Savannah Workday (near 6520 Almeda)
  • Wednesday, April 11 (2nd Wednesdays): Deer Park Prairie Workday, 9:00am – noon
  • Wednesday, April 11 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.
  • Thursday, April 12 (2nd & 4th Thursdays): Native (and mostly prairie) plant propagation at City of Houston Greenhouse in Memorial Park, 9:00am – noon
  • Saturday, April 14 (2nd Saturdays): Hermann Park, Whistlestop Prairie Workday (near entrance to Japanese Garden), 9:00am – noon
  • Wednesday, April 18 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon.
  • Friday, April 20 (3rd Fridays): Memorial Park Conservancy, Conservation Crew, Kayak/Canoe Access (Woodway, immediately west of 610), invasive control and working on a recently planted restoration project. 9am – noon.Contact volunteer@memorialparkconservancy.org for more information, since location differs each month.
  • Wednesday, April 25 (weekly on Wednesdays): HANC/MPC Greenhouse Volunteer Workday, 9am – noon
  • Thursday, April 26 (4th Thursdays): Native (and mostly prairie) plant propagation at City of Houston Greenhouse at Memorial Park, 9:00am – noon
  • Saturday, April 28 (4th Saturdays): Deer Park Prairie Workday, 9:00am -noon.**Also Deer Park Prairie Spring Prairie Day & City Nature Challenge!** Program specifics upcoming at Houstonprairie.org or email HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org for more information. Join HNPAT’s Spring Prairie Day and take lots of photos to post on iNATURALIST, since this is during the City Nature Challenge. Come and see the early spring wildflowers! Organized events of the City Nature Challenge can be found at houstonprairie.org/CNCactivities/
  • Saturday, April 28 (4th Saturdays): Hermann Park, Bayou Savannah Workday (near 6520 Almeda), 9:00am -noon
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.

Want to volunteer in your own home? Join the Great Grow Out Program. Katy Prairie Conservancy is seeking volunteers to grow (in the comfort of their own home) plants from wild collected seeds that we will send you. Then return the seedlings to KPC for restoration projects! Don’t forget to keep a few for your garden!

Instructions in the form of a Grower’s Handbook or in the form of videos are at www.katyprairie.org/ggo. For more information, view the webpage or contact Lshen@katyprairie.org

If you want to get this monthly email and 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 button below to get monthly emails on Urban Prairies activities that need your help!


See you all on the prairie!


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?


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.