June 2022
Note from the Environmental Education Center

As we turn the corner from spring to summer, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Wildflowers sprinkle color around the park, and butterflies and dragonflies dance through the air. Birds are busy raising their young. Frequent breezes across the lake afford a pleasantness for walking, fishing, and bird watching. 
The Environmental Education Center offers an opportunity to cool off and share your adventures with our naturalists. Take part in the Center’s summer Discovery Days programs to see snakes and raptors up close and learn about animals from their skins and skulls. It’s a great family outing to learn about nature while enjoying the comfort of air conditioning!

Construction is progressing on a new section of the lake near the Center, where 25,000 native aquatic plants were recently planted and are thriving. It didn’t take long for wildlife to settle into the area. So far, the wetland has attracted Canada geese, mottled ducks, black-necked stilts, killdeer, yellowlegs, sandpipers, and more. We are excited to see this new habitat take shape and can’t wait to share it with you when it is complete.

Photo by Megan Ahlgren
June Events at John Paul Landing
Backyard Naturalists

Saturday, June 11,
10 11 a.m.

Suitable for adults and children 10 and older.
Discovery Days – Snakes and More with Riki's Reptile Relocation

Wednesday, June 22,
12:30 1:30 p.m. or 2 3 p.m.

Designed for school-aged children. Registration required. To sign up, email johnpaullanding@hcp4.net or call 713-274-3131, and let us know which time you would like to attend.
Nature Discussion Group:
"The New Wild: Why Invasive Species will be Nature's Salvation" by Fred Pearce

Thursday, June 23,
12:30 1:30 p.m.

Suitable for adults and older students with a keen interest in nature.
Lakeside Read
As temperatures rise in spring and summer, we begin to see an increase in amphibians, reptiles, and turtles. These animals, collectively referred to as herptiles, are all ectotherms. They rely on external means to regulate their body temperature, sometimes known as “cold-blooded.” 
Reptiles and amphibians often emerge to bask in the sun’s warmth during cool mornings, then retreat into shade or water during the afternoon heat.
John Paul Landing Park hosts a number of herptiles and, if you are observant, you may be able to spot some – or hear them! Frogs are one of the easiest to detect because you can easily hear and identify them by their call. American bullfrogs bellow around the lake and wetland edges, southern leopard frogs chuckle, cricket frogs sound like marbles clicking together, and eastern narrow-mouthed toads bleat like lambs. Around more inland vegetation, squirrel treefrogs sound like squirrels, green treefrogs honk, and Rio Grande chirping frogs are easily mistaken for crickets chirping at night! We invite you to come out and discover which species you can see or hear. In addition to frogs, you might see turtles, lizards, toads, or even the tail end of a snake as it makes its retreat. If you would like to learn more about Texas snakes, sign up for our family-friendly Discovery Days program with Riki’s Reptile Relocation on Wednesday, June 22, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. or 2 – 3 p.m.

Photo by Keith Kilson
Discussion Preview:
Embracing Invasives?
Invasive species have a negative connotation in conservation. They often outcompete natives, destroy the landscape, and can be difficult to control. However, author Fred Pearce celebrates nature’s capacity for change. He views alien species as a tool to increase biodiversity in an everchanging world, arguing that invasives are the new natural. On Thursday, June 23, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., we will analyze “The New Wild: Why Invasive Species will be Nature’s Salvation” with Fred Pearce. Join us to share your thoughts! This discussion is best suited for adults and older students with a keen interest in nature. 

Photo by Frank Farese
Volunteer Spotlight
Our skilled woodworker volunteers recently repaired the bird feeder platform in front of the Center, likely damaged by heavy winds. This feeder is popular with a variety of birds. Blackbirds feed from atop the platform, and mourning doves, savannah sparrows, and even northern bobwhites come to eat the seed that falls to the ground. We hope to add another feeding station in the future and appreciate these volunteers who are always ready to help!
Photo by Megan Ahlgren
Answer to Last Month's Knowledge Test
Which of the following is not true about dandelions?
  • They are edible, and almost every part of the plant can be consumed in some way.
  • They are an important early spring source of nectar for pollinators.
  • All our dandelions are native species.

The correct answer is: All our dandelions are native species

Poll Results
28.7% of you chose: They are edible, and almost every part of the plant can be consumed in some way.
16% of you chose: They are an important early spring source of nectar for pollinators.
55.3% of you chose: All our dandelions are native species.

Photo by Megan Ahlgren
June Poll Question
What is your favorite activity at John Paul Landing?
Educational programs
Harris County Precinct 4
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle

Thank you for reading this monthly newsletter from the staff at John Paul Landing Park & Environmental Education Center. I hope you learned something new about our services, activities, and programs.

As your county commissioner, I’m proud of the work your Precinct 4 staff and volunteers perform every day to improve access to greenspaces. We pledge to continue this service in the future. 

Please stay tuned for our next issue to learn more about our events, activities, and news!