Volume 33, Issue I

Greetings!

It is my warmest wish that you all had a happy holiday season. I know the past year has been trying, but we must forge ahead into 2021 with hope and purpose. That is our goal at Jones Park.

Although the number of programs and attendance has declined, I genuinely feel that every visitor to our park is a blessing. Despite the numbers, we have focused on offering more virtual programs, honing our in-person curriculum, and completing projects to improve the park. It is my pleasure to report our progress. 

We still require reservations for most in-person programs and plan to continue offering virtual options for specific events. Our Virtual 12 Days of Christmas event in December reached more than 12,000 people, with 250 reactions on social media. To accomplish this, we brought volunteers to the park to film parts of An Old-Fashioned Christmas for the public. Reenactors also had the opportunity to do what they love best in a safe environment. 

Our in-person Arbor Day Celebration and tree planting party was another successful event, with 83 volunteers planting 280 trees. We gave away 200 trees throughout the weekend. Matt Abernathy and David Jamar did a fantastic job coordinating the event, despite the bad weather on Saturday. In the future, we are optimistic about NatureFest and Spring Breakout, as we strive to bring the highest-quality programs and events to our visitors. 

As far as projects are concerned, busy is the word of the season. I'm proud to announce that the Redbud Hill Homestead cabin is now complete. I want to thank Katrina Yordy and all the Precinct 4 staff and volunteers who made this project possible. Our next homestead venture will be to fix the wagon and repair the roofs of our existing structures. A big shoutout to Mark Powers and the Precinct 4 Trades team for replacing the roof on our corner restroom!

I'm also proud to announce that Jones Park now features public Wi-Fi in front of the Nature Center greenspace and the front parking lots, thanks to the Harris County IT department's hard work and funding from the CARES Act. And last but not least, we are in the final stages of fully furnishing the new JJPV office with furniture, a new conference table, and internet access. Once functional, all JJPV meetings and business will have a permanent home.  
Before I conclude this report, I would like to welcome Alicia Mein-Johnson as our new outreach coordinator.

She has already hit the ground running, and I am confident in her abilities to promote the park and recruit new visitors. We have a great team here at Jones Park, but none of this would be possible without the hard work and determination of volunteers. Just as we are proud of our accomplishments in these difficult times, you should be as well. Thank you for your time, stay safe, and see you in the park!

– Jason Naivar
Park Superintendent and Director

“A river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – James N. Watkins

Frogs Find Welcome Home in Harris County

From the Bible to fairy tales to mythologies, most ancient texts tell of unlucky offenders cursed with a plague of frogs. Plague? A blessing would be more like it. Considering that most ancient cities sprang up next to rivers –thus suffering genuine plagues of insects like mosquitoes and flies – it seems like most city-dwellers should have welcomed large numbers of frogs with open arms. But they didn’t. Fortunately, we live in more enlightened times. Frogs are adored today.

Exploring Our Historical Ecosystems

A visit to Harris County’s natural areas often reveals forests thick with vines, underbrush, and bushes. If it weren’t for trails, most hikers couldn’t travel more than a few yards.

These forests weren’t always so dense.

What's Blooming This
Spring at Jones Park

Spring in Texas is often associated with the beautiful wildflowers found along highways, waterways, and meadows across the state. Here are a few of our favorite Texas wildflowers, trees, and plants that you can expect to see this spring at Jones Park.

Five Edible Plants That Grow Wild at Jones Park

If you found yourself lost in the forest, would you know how to survive? After seeking water and shelter, most would probably hunt for nuts, blackberries, and fruit. A lucky few may find acorns and beautyberries, but the majority would go to bed hungry.

Unfortunately, the fruits and vegetables sold in stores don’t grow naturally in southeast Texas. Instead of going hungry, professional forager Mark Merriwether Vorderbruggen recommends embracing the smorgasbord of edible plants and flowers around you.

“Foraging was a way of life for my family growing up,” said Vorderbruggen. “My parents would take us on walks in the woods every day. And while out there, they would talk about how their parents and grandparents used to harvest this plant for medicinal use and that one for food. For a long time, I actually thought everyone learned this sort of thing from their parents.”

Vorderbruggen has spent decades studying and sampling Texas’ natural bounty, even training under celebrated Texas foragers Carmine Stahl and T.R. Zimmermann.

“When I was in grad school, my knowledge of the different free foods and medicines around me was a huge benefit since I was broke all the time,” he said. “The lessons of my parents served me well. But I quickly realized they had only scratched the surface, and so I ended up trying to learn to identify and use every plant around me.”
Volunteers in Action
President's Message

As the new year continues, I pause for a moment to reflect on what we’ve endured and accomplished in 2020. We’ve all dealt with a variety of hardships and even some personal losses. I extend my condolences to those who have suffered the loss of family members and friends.

The past year presented staff and volunteers with numerous obstacles to overcome. We met these challenges with a tremendous spirit of flexibility and adaptability. Although significant events were either scaled back to accommodate social distancing or offered virtually, the park remained open and continued to offer programs, providing the public a rare oasis from the reality of the pandemic.

We learned this past year that digital media offers us the means and tools to address social distancing and opens an entirely new world of opportunities beyond virtual festivals, programs, and Zoom meetings. In that regard, the JJPV Board of Directors recently adopted an IT implementation plan that includes a new JJPV webpage, Facebook page, and even a YouTube channel.

In addition to our current Zoom capability, these new tools will enable us to reach more people and further enhance our programs. Monthly JJPV meetings will continue to offer virtual participation even after we return to in-person meetings, providing the ability to bring in guest speakers from across the state and provide members with an alternative when they’re unable to attend in person. Presentations and programs can also be recorded to share with larger audiences on Facebook and YouTube.

There are exciting things to come in the new year. However, although vaccinations are now being distributed and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, please don’t let your guard down. To paraphrase others more eloquent than I: “No one wants to be (or cause) the last casualty in a war!” Please continue to be diligent and practice safe social distancing.

Hope to see you all in the park again soon!

– Gary Chapman
JJPV President
Volunteer Spotlight:
Joe and Elaine Nelson

By Brent Wilkins
Volunteer Coordinator

Most people audition to play Santa Claus, but longtime volunteer Joe Nelson wasn't even looking for a part.

He was playing with his grandchildren at Jones Park when assistant director Matt Abernathy spotted him.

Joe so resembled the jolly elf that Abernathy decided on the spot that he had to play St. Nicholas during the park's upcoming An Old-Fashioned Christmas. After learning that Joe was the husband of longtime volunteer Elaine Nelson, Abernathy recruited him, and he soon became a staple at the park.

Although we were saddened by Joe's passing in August 2020, we take comfort in knowing that he impacted the lives of so many patrons of Jones Park and that his legacy will continue.

In addition to playing St. Nicholas, Joe helped build the park's fishing and archery programs, spending hours instructing families and children and preparing equipment. He even volunteered to appear in a virtual fishing program over the summer. Although he'd never presented on camera before, Joe forged ahead and helped make the video a success.
Save the Date
Conservation Connections
Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.
*Subject to change or cancellation due to weather.

Homestead Team
Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.
*Subject to change or cancellation due to weather.

Tai Chi
Wednesdays at 9 a.m.
*Subject to change or cancellation due to weather.

Homestead Open House
Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Tadpoles Club
Wednesdays, March 3, 10, 24, and 31, at 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m.
*Ages 3-4 only. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3.

17th Annual NatureFest
Saturday, March 6, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Second Saturday Settlers: Lye Soap
Saturday, March 13, from 1 to 3 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, March 3.

Second Sunday Pickers
Sundays, March 14, April 11, and May 9, from 2 to 4 p.m.
*Subject to change or cancellation due to weather.

Spring Breakout
Nature Art: Monday, March 15, at 10 a.m. (All ages)
TPWD Jr. Angler: Tuesday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Ages 8+)
Texas Bound: Wednesday, March 17
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Ages 7-12)
Jr. Canoe Training: Thursday, March 18
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Ages 10-15)
Geocaching: Friday, March 19, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Ages 7+)
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Invasives Beware
Saturdays, March 20, April 17, and May 15, from 9 to 11 a.m.
*Ages 16+ or accompanied by an adult. Wear long pants and
closed-toe shoes.

Canoe Spring Creek
Saturday, March 27, at 9 a.m.
Sunday, March 28, at 1 p.m.
*Ages 16+. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, March 17.

Jesse Jones Park Volunteers Program & Meeting
Mondays, March 29, April 26, and May 24, at 7 p.m.
*Ages 16+ or accompanied by adult. In-person or virtual options. Contact the park to make reservations.

First Saturday Birding
Saturdays, April 3 and May 1, at 7:45 a.m.
*Ages 10+

Easter Games
Saturday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to noon
*Ages 12 and under. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, March 24.

Second Saturday Settlers: Natural Dyes
Saturday, April 10, from 1 to 3 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, March 31.

Frogs
Saturday, April 17, at 1 p.m.
*Ages 10+. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, April 7.

Volunteer Meet & Greet
Saturday, April 24, from 1 to 3 p.m.
*Ages 16+ or accompanied by an adult. Families welcome.

Pioneer Lifestyle
Saturdays, April 24 and May 22, from 1 to 5 p.m.

City Nature Challenge
Saturday, May 1, All Day
First Saturday Birding: 7:45 a.m.
Reptiles & Amphibians: 9 a.m.
Fish of Spring Creek: 10 a.m.
Biological Surveys: 2 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, April 21.

Annual Nature Photo Contest Ribbon Presentation
Saturday, May 1, at 1 p.m.
*For more information call or visit www.hcp4.net/jones/photocontest.

Summer Nature Camp Online Registration: Amazing Arthropods
Monday, May 3, at 8 a.m.

Tadpoles Club
Wednesdays, May 5, 12, 19, and 26, at 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m.
*Ages 3-4 only. Reservations required beginning Wednesday, April 7.

Second Saturday Settlers: Ladies Day
Saturday, May 8, from 1 to 5 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, April 28.

Reptile Open House
Saturday, May 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, May 5.

Bites, Stings, & Itches
Saturday, May 22, from 9 a.m. to noon
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, May 12.

Creek Bash
Saturday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to noon
*Reservations required beginning Wednesday, May 26.

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