Let’s Help NPAT Save The Paul Mathews Prairie!


NPAT has an exciting opportunity to conserve a vibrant prairie in North Texas. The Paul Mathews Prairie is a rare and pristine 100-acre remnant of the Blackland Prairie near Floyd, TX in Hunt County, not far from the well-known Clymer Meadow. For an incredible price of $50,000, NPAT can become the owner of this unique prairie! We believe this is the chance of a lifetime and one that we should not pass up. NPAT only has a limited time to raise the funds to buy this beautiful prairie. We hope you will help us purchase the prairie, cover the land transaction fees, and create an endowment fund for its stewardship & protection. Those of you familiar with the Deer Park Prairie, will know how expensive it is to maintain a prairie and defend it against pressures such as invasive plants, trees and shrubs, etc. without the traditional tools such as fire and bison. We need to raise $50,000 to cover the entire project.

Although the land is already under conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), purchasing the property will ensure that NPAT with its vast prairie expertise will be able to manage the preservation of this extremely rare remnant of what was once a dominant habitat in North American and today is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.

Hey, Houston Prairie People: if we could do the Deer Park Prairie (~50 acres for ~$4 million), we should be able to do this easy! People from all over the world helped us save the Deer Park Prairie, let’s return the favor! Please donate and pass the word onto your friends & relatives in the DFW area.

Donate now online at this link or by mail (use this form) to Native Prairies Association of Texas, 415 N. Guadalupe St. PMB 385, San Marcos, TX 78666 (please write Mathews Prairie in the memo line of your check if you want to direct your donation specifically to the Mathews Prairie.)

History of the Mathews prairie:  Paul Mathews played in this prairie as a boy in the early 1900s and wanted to preserve it. He finally bought the land in 1969, put it under conservation easement with TNC in the 1980s, and managed it by haying until about 1996. He had received the Lone Star Land Steward award and died at age 101 in 2005. The current owner is Dr. Jim Conrad, a history professor in Commerce, who wants to sell the land and is happy to sell it to NPAT.

Former TNC manager Jim Eidson considers the Mathews Prairie as one of the best representatives of a gamagrass/switchgrass/indiangrass vertisolic (gumbo clay) prairie in Texas. It has very deep gilgai formations.

This prairie has some rare species as well, including a crawfish that was thought to be rare, but now is considered more common than originally thought. Other wildlife information about this prairie can be found at the links below:

Check out the information about the Paul Mathews Prairie at the NPAT website’s home page: TexasPrairie.org


Photo credits. Top: Jason Singhurst. Bottom: Kirsti Harms.


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!

Deer Park Prairie – One Year Later

A tremendous amount of improvements have been made at Deer Park Prairie (DPP) this past year, since the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) took possession of the property.The west fenceline has been cleared of much of the shrubs and and woodies thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers, especially Kelly Walker and Brandt Mannchen, and DPP’s first Eagle Scout Project led by Mark Oldham.

The property was mowed last summer and will be again this summer, before haying can resume.

Many tallows on the prairie have been destroyed by Ian and Barbara Kress, Charlie Lundquist, and other dedicated volunteers. Treatment of tallows and other woodies with herbicide yielded good results.Ian and Barbara Kress have become the fairy godparents of DPP, for they not only donate much of their time volunteering at DPP, they also donated the seed money for this prairie – $5000 in both 2014 and 2015 with matching funds from Barbara’s work place. Ian even brought his mother, Mary McCarty, to our December workday. Mary was a real trooper: the prairie was ankle deep in water and she without rubber boots helped chop back the woodies along with Ian, Barbara, Maya Fletcher-Bai (back home from college), her father, Jane Reierson, Glenn and Pat.

Glenn Merkord, husband of NPAT Executive Director Pat Merkord and our hardiest working volunteer, has established workdays on second Wednesday and fourth Saturday mornings at DPP. Those are also our open days for the public. At 7:30 a.m. on fourth Saturdays, Damien Carey and Pat Merkord lead the monthly bird survey.Thanks to a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Grant, there is a prairie demonstration garden bed at the side of the house. The garden was built by volunteers and planted mostly by an Eagle Scout Project led by Jordon Smith and coordinated by Janis Terry our boy scout liaison. Another Eagle Scout Project, led by George Kutac, moved the cyclone fence and non-native flower bed, which had separated the backyard from the prairie, so we now have an uninterrupted view of the prairie from the back patio. Only eyesore left is the shed 😦

Thanks to Jaime Gonzalez and Katy Prairie Conservancy for permanent loan of a growing table. We will be able to grow plants from seeds collected on the prairie, including seeds of native milkweed for our new Monarch garden, supported by a grant from the Native Plant Society of Texas that NPAT via Barbara Willy had applied for.

Scientific projects are also ongoing. TPWD has installed a frog logger to record frog calls in order to identify the types of frogs on site. TPWD’s Kelly Norrid is often on property to change its battery and memory card. A TPWD intern is scheduled to also survey for herps and small mammals this summer.

Don Verser in the past, Doug Haass currently and more recently Chuck Duplant offer both science and art in their beautiful closeup photographs of the many insects on the prairie: see photos posted at our flickr site. Deer Park resident Doug Haass also offer his reflections on the prairie in Doug Haass’ DPP Journal.

NPAT made MANY repairs at considerable expense to the house on the prairie, so that now, it can be used for occasional meetings. Judy Thomas and her husband Randy took on the task of being in charge the yard and the house. Bayou Land Conservancy volunteer Robert Gardner painted the rusty garage door and fixed a hole in the siding. Furniture and a small refrigerator in the house were donated by Diana Foss, Bill & Michele Foss, her brother and sister-in-law, and by Rachel Powers with Citizens for Environmental Coalition among others. However, we still have tremendous needs with regard to the house and the prairie.

We hope that you HNPAT and NPAT supporters will help fund future improvements to the property – both house and prairie. To donate, go to this link or send a check made out to NPAT and note in the memo with the words “for Deer Park Prairie” and mail to
Native Prairies Association of Texas
415 N. Guadalupe St. PMB 385
San Marcos, TX 78666

Thank you for your support.  We welcome visitors by appointment (HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org or 512-772-4741) or on our open days:
2nd Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. – noon
4th Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – noon

Saturday, 12/27/14: Bird Walk or Workday or Prairie Tour at Deer Park Prairie & Think of Us for Holiday Donations!

Saturday, December 27:
Deer Park Prairie for
Bird Walk(7a) or Workday (9a-12p) or Tour (11a)
Think of Us for Your Holiday Donations!
Next Meeting: WEDNESDAY, January 28, 2015

Take break from the holiday gift returns & stress.

Enjoy a day in nature on the Deer Park Prairie on December 27. Join us for
a Bird Walk, led by Pat Merkord at 7:00 a.m. and/or
a Workday, led by Glenn Merkord 9:00 a.m. to noon and/or

a Prairie Tour, led by Lan Shen at 11:00 a.m.
1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park 77536
(Rubber boots may be advisable)
Please help us maintain the Deer Park Prairie, a rare prairie remnant!
Consider a donation to the owners of the Deer Park Prairie:
the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT).

Read about NPATs accomplishments in 2014 at this link.


Save the Date: WEDNESDAY, January 28, 2015, 6:30 p.m.
Our meetings in 2015 will be on
4th Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m (Refreshments); 7:00 p.m. (Program starts)
Most meetings will be at 3015 Richmond Ave. 77098
until we find a new location, since that building will be torn down toward the end of 2015.
Topic TBA
Coming soon, email update on recent HNPAT (Houston Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas) news.


Want to De-clutter? ….Think of us!

We can use all types of equipment for Deer Park Prairie!  If you are throwing away things in the greater Houston area, be green and please contact us at HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org to see, if we might need it.

We started with an essentially empty house, after many volunteer hours of clean-up by Pat & Glenn Merkord, Judy Thomas, Nancy Taylor, Kirsti Harms, and Lan Shen. Pat and Glenn donated some beds and portable chairs and other furniture for the NPAT board meeting in June, in case board members would like to spend the night.  Lan donated a black sofa bed that her mother had been wanting to get rid of for ages.  NPAT purchased tables and folding chairs for the main room.

We could use:

guanti__e_pinzeAny gardening tools or equipmentThanks to a TPWD grant, we were able to purchase tools needed for invasive control. However, there are never too many garden tools because we have 54 acres of prairie to swallow them, no matter how careful we are! Pruners…loppers…saws…shovels…sharp shooters…gloves…

Janis Terry is donating a wheel barrow – thanks very much!  We can use more and/or garden wagons.

refridgeratorFor the house, we could really use a REFRIGERATOR, any size.

For an office area: File cabinet, desk, chairs, computer and periphernaliaThanks to CEC for offering to donate a flip board easel.

Others things:

timochkaVolunteers and material for finishing the upstairs rooms.  Even though we do not know the eventual destiny of this house, a quick, cheap spruce up of the upstairs rooms will allow them to be used for the time being. If someone likes doing this type of work, some paint and do-it-yourself flooring makes a world of difference.

Painting the outside will help us with our neighbors. 

All clipart are from openclipart.org.