Volume 32, Issue IV

Greetings!

As the new director of Jesse Jones Park & Nature Center, I am honored and excited about the opportunity entrusted to me by Commissioner R. Jack Cagle and the Harris County Precinct 4 leadership team.

I want to show my appreciation to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers and the JJPV Board of Directors for their patience and support as I settle into this new role. I also want to thank the former director, Darlene Conley Hostetler, for her 35 years of dedicated service and mentorship to staff and volunteers. Her hard work has laid the foundation on which the visitors, volunteers, and staff will travel into the future.

I am pleased to announce that, with the cooler temperatures of fall, our park attendance is still going strong. Even amid the challenges of a global pandemic, people continue to appreciate Jones Park. I genuinely believe that the work we are doing here is improving our community's mental and physical health.

Although we had to limit in-person events for safety reasons, we still successfully reached the public by hosting virtual and limited-attendance events. Virtual Native American Heritage Day attracted more than 24,000 viewers and received 784 responses on Facebook. In-person programs and festivals now require reservations in small outdoor tour groups, allowing us to control the attendance numbers and space out the visits over time.

For example, Pioneer Day is now a slightly larger Second Saturday Settlers program with limited-attendance tours in the morning and afternoon. The most significant change regards Homestead Heritage Day. This event has permanently moved to Spring Creek Park in Tomball to become part of Precinct 4’s Heritage Festival. The change will allow Jones Park to focus on Texas pioneer and Native American history. 

We have had a busy fall with several remarkable projects in the works. We are tearing down and rebuilding the cabin in the Redbud Hill Homestead and plan to complete it in early November. Structures in the Akokisa Indian Village have been rethatched and repaired, thanks to the Christian Homeschoolers of the Atascocita Texas Area (CHATA). This group also assisted in the homestead with skinning logs for the cabin, fencing the vegetable garden, and remolding the bread oven.

Additionally, the Trailblazers have been hard at work resurfacing the Picnic Loop, Palmetto trail, and the west side of the Kenswick drainage channel. We are also adding a new irrigation system to our park greenhouse and replacing several lights in the rear parking lot.

In closing, I wish to express my gratitude to the staff of Jones Park. They work so hard to make this place special, and I could not be more impressed with their adaptability in these trying times. So the next time you visit us, don't forget to say hello and thank them for a job well done. If you have any questions or comments about our program adjustments, please contact our office.

Thank you for your time, and see you in the park!

Jason Naivar
Director

Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”– Joshua J. Marine

Featured Articles
Bald Eagles Make Home in Jones Park


Lucky Jones Park visitors may spot a spectacular, welcome sight soaring along Spring Creek.

With towering trees, fresh water, and an abundance of fish and wildlife, Jones Park provides an inviting habitat to the iconic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

Although Americans recognize the bald eagle as our national bird, few know the specifics about this majestic creature.

Bald eagles are considerably large, weighing between 6 and 14 pounds with a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet. Although known for their white heads and tails, bald eagles do not develop this classic look until they are 4 to 5 years old.


New Jones Park Director Announced

Meet Jones Park's new director! Jason Naivar started as an education program coordinator at Jones Park in 2016 after a 13-year career working with marine animals. With Naivar leading the park, Jones Park visitors can look forward to new and innovative programs and services in the next few years.


Popular Christmas Traditions Explained

Ever wonder how our holiday traditions started?

From Christmas trees to gift giving, Historical Coordinator Katrina Yordy touches on some of our most important traditions.


Rediscovering the Forgotten Akokisa Tribe

Of all the activities to experience at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, a trip to the Akokisa Indian Village may be the most memorable. From the moment hikers head down the forested Homestead Trail and cross the threshold to the Redbud Hill Homestead, they’re treated to a hidden world preserved in time.

The Akokisa were a sub-group of Atakapa-speaking natives who inhabited coastal prairies of southeast Texas. They lived undisturbed for many centuries until European exploration brought change to the region. Although Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was the first to notate them in the 1530s, a French officer named Francois Simar de Bellisle gave the most detailed account of the tribe. Writings from these explorers depict the Akokisa as a hardy people well-known for tanning bear skins and traveling in giant cypress wood canoes. Jones Park staff member Jason Naivar says when faced with opposition, they could be fearless warriors.


This article originally appeared in Precinct4Update. Check out the latest issue here.
Winged Elm Named State Co-Champion

There's a new state co-champion tree in Precinct 4! The Texas A&M Forest Service named Precinct 4's winged elm as one of the largest in the state.
Trees of the same species are ranked by their tree index, a number resulting from a formula that measures the trunk circumference, height, and average crown spread. The new winged elm champ has a circumference of 108 inches, a height of 95 feet, and a crown spread of 89 feet, giving it a tree index of 225 points.

Look for These Five
Overwintering Animals At Jones Park

As winter approaches, the days get shorter, temperatures drop, and many plants go dormant or die back.

While some animals migrate south or enter a hibernation-like state called brumation, others remain active. Jones Park features plenty of wildlife to see throughout the winter.

So next time you visit the park, look out for these five types of visitors.

Volunteers in Action
President's Message

We’ve now had more than eight months to learn how to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As our understanding of the virus grows, we’ve made changes in our daily lives and discovered new ways to interact with each other and nature.

October through March are historically our “big event” months, with large crowds attending Tricks & Treats Among the Trees, Pioneer Day, An Old-Fashioned Christmas, Homestead Heritage Day, and NatureFest. Unfortunately, we’ll have to break from tradition this season and explore new ways of sharing these events with our community. Although we miss our large festivals, we’re excited to reach more people through virtual and modified in-person events!

Since transitioning to virtual events in March, the park has experienced unprecedented online exposure. Historically, in-person attendance at Native American Heritage Day has been less than 500 people. However, our interactive virtual event on Facebook reached more than 24,000 viewers in a week. That’s POWERFUL!

It will still take some time before we beat the pandemic. In the meantime, virtual programs present a unique opportunity to introduce more people to the park and our programs. Please keep your eyes open and share these opportunities with your friends. Think about it, when we finally return to full-scale in-person events, the crowds will be back in greater numbers, and we’ll need even more volunteers.

Hope to see you all in the park again soon!

– Gary Chapman, JJPV President
Homestead Team Volunteers Needed

Do you love gardening or working outdoors with tools? Then we need you to join the Homestead Team.

Help rejuvenate the Redbud Hill Homestead and rebuild the log cabin. Other activities include debarking logs, sharpening the woodshop tools, tending to the herb and vegetable gardens, and maintaining the Akokisa Indian Village. All of these tasks are possible while social distancing.

No experience is needed, just an eagerness to learn.

The Homestead Team meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. If you are interested in volunteering on other days and times, please contact Jones Park. For more information, contact Historical Programs Coordinator Katrina Yordy at 281-446-8588 or kyordy@hcp4.net.

Volunteer Spotlight: Christian
Homeschoolers of the Atascocita Texas Area

By Brent Wilkins
Volunteer Coordinator

Homeschooling doesn’t always mean learning at home, at least not for the Christian Homeschoolers of the Atascocita Texas Area (CHATA).

This outgoing group of students is passionate about giving back to the community and frequently participates in volunteer projects at Jones Park. These students do it all, from removing invasive plants to making repairs in the Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village.

CHATA, a faith-centered service club for homeschool students in sixth through 12th grades, is part of the Epsilon Chapter of the Eta Sigma Alpha National Homeschool Honor Society. A different student leader organizes each service project.

We asked a couple of recent leaders about their experiences volunteering at Jones Park, and here’s what they said:

What inspired you to become a volunteer?

“When I was younger, I participated in many of the programs at the park, including the Tadpoles Club and Summer Nature Camp. By volunteering, I feel like I can give back to the park.”
 –Corbin Adkins.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at Jones Park?

“As students, we enjoy the wealth of information that the staff bestows upon us while we are working. The projects CHATA has participated in at Jesse Jones Park have been meaningful, and we truly feel we are making a difference in the park, and thus in our community.”
–Paige Johnson.

What is your favorite volunteer event or festival, and why?

“My favorite event is the Reptile Open House. Reptiles are often misunderstood, and an event devoted specifically to teaching about them is important. My next favorite is Texas Bound because it helps kids to learn about the Texas pioneers by participating in the activity rather than just watching it.”
– Corbin Adkins.

What are some tips that may be helpful to new volunteers in your position?

“First, always bring lots of water and a good pair of work gloves. Also, come with a set of questions for the staff about the park or your project. You will be pleasantly surprised at the answers, and we can guarantee that before you leave, you will have learned something new. Finally, come ready to sweat! Our last visit to the park sent many of our members home in need of a long hot bath.” – Paige Johnson.

Each of the CHATA members draws from different experiences at Jones Park. But they all unite behind a common goal: to strengthen their faith and enrich the community through volunteer service. Their service is invaluable for advancing the park’s mission of providing environmental and natural history education, wildlife conservation, and recreational opportunities.

CHATA volunteers recently helped rethatch the Akokisa Indian Village structures in preparation for Native American Heritage Day in September. The project is a tedious, but fun, annual event, and these volunteers put great effort into completing the structures just like the Akokisas did.

CHATA members plan to continue volunteering at the park regularly this fall and winter, helping Jones Park prepare for Pioneer Day in November and Homestead Holiday in December. If you would like to learn more about CHATA, please visit their website at https://chataesa.shutterfly.com/.
Save the Date

Second Sunday Pickers
Sundays, Dec. 13, Jan. 10, and Feb. 14
 
Critter’s Christmas
Saturday, Dec. 19, at 1 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Dec. 9

Winter Bird Count
Saturday, Jan. 2, at 7:45 a.m.
Ages 10+. Bring binoculars and field guide.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Dec. 23

Second Saturday Settlers: Blacksmithing
Saturday, Jan. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Dec. 30

Pioneer Campfire
Saturday, Jan. 9, at 5:30 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Dec. 30

Arbor Day Celebration
Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16 and 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Tree Planting Party on Saturday at 10 a.m.)
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Jan. 6

Salamanders
Saturday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13

Animal Tracks & Signs
Saturday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Jan. 20

Take Me Fishing
Saturday, Feb. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
*Ages 8+. Online registration required at www.fishingsfuture.org

Winter Woods Orienteering
Saturday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m.
*Ages 10+. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 10

Paper Quilling
Saturday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17

Stargazing
Saturday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17

JJPV Thanks

Thank you, donors and volunteers, for the many ways you support Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center! Because of you, Jones Park remains one of Harris County’s top recreational facilities. This 312-acre park along Spring Creek continues to be a place where individuals and families can picnic, hike and bike along paved trails, paddle along the creek, fish, and participate in free programs and festivals. With your continued support and generosity, Jones Park will remain a favorite destination for discovering nature and wildlife.

Click here to see a list of donors.
A Message From
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
Thank you for reading this edition of Cypress Log. As a county commissioner, I work to provide you with outdoor recreational opportunities throughout our parks system and along our nature trails. When people work together to protect our parks, everyone benefits through additional recreational opportunities, flood protection, and the preservation of wildlife and greenspace. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy these beautiful and beneficial amenities!

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble
Phone: 281-446-8588