September 2019

Dear Friends,

The two year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey recently passed, Hurricane Dorian threatens the U.S. as you read this, and locally we continue to work hard to demonstrate the benefits nature provides our great city. Whether we protect nature next to cities or integrate nature into cities, it has become increasingly important in times of rapid urbanization to understand how such efforts can be cost effective, provide multiple benefits, and increase an area’s resiliency.

In the past cities have often worked in conflict with nature. Concrete buildings and streets trap and amplify heat (known as the urban island effect) and the reliance on impermeable surfaces reduces the land’s ability to absorb rainwater which increases stormwater flooding and even adds to pollution in rivers and oceans. Lack of trees and certain types of vegetation that can capture carbon lead to higher air pollution levels which has shown to increase asthma rates.

More and more cities are developing ways to allow the built and natural environments to work in tandem to make our cities more resilient. They are looking at ways to create and protect safe, inclusive, and accessible green spaces; use natural infrastructure and a region’s natural assets to prevent or lessen damages from hurricane, wind, and surge events; and identify ways to improve water and air quality by reducing particulate matter and protecting source water. 

After three 500-year storms in the Greater Houston Area (2016 – 2017), elected officials, business leaders, and the community recognized that the old ways of doing business, especially with regard to flood control, were no longer adequate. While many did not immediately identify the possible effects of climate change, many did note that weather patterns were changing which resulted in a “new normal.” The City of Houston implemented new regulations regarding building in the floodplains, Harris County residents passed a $2.5 billion in bond funds to support drainage and flood control projects, and new partnerships were formed with conservation, parks and open space, and green organizations.

Some of the ways I think we can use nature to our benefit are saving our wetlands both for their ability to hold water and to improve water quality, protecting floodway and floodplain areas, increasing the size of floodplains wherever possible, and converting vegetation in esplanades, common areas, lawns, and other greenspaces to native vegetation.

It is likely that there is no silver bullet to solving all of a city’s challenges. But communities such as Houston must find ways to adapt to changing conditions, involve all elements of the community to identify and adopt solutions, take advantage of our natural assets, and use the most innovative and creative technologies to make our cities more resilient.

Jane Jacobs noted that great cities need great countrysides close by. Here today, let's strive to have both.

Sincerely,
Mary Anne Piacentini
President and Chief Executive Officer
Check This Out!
Register here !
The Katy Prairie Conservancy was lucky to have volunteer Lisa Howes at the Indiangrass Preserve this summer. She was an incredible addition to the team of Native Seed Nursery volunteers who help grow native plants on Tuesdays and Fridays. We have already adopted her suggestion for streamlining the sequencing system which we use to inventory the plants we grow in the nursery.

A great, big thank you to Lisa from all of us at KPC!
Photos courtesy of Lisa Howes


Hi!

My name is Lisa Howes and I am a senior at Texas A&M University double majoring in Bioenvironmental Sciences and Plant and Environmental Soil Science. My interests in ecology and environmental conservation drive me to seek unique opportunities to experience hands-on the subjects I’ve learned in my classes. This summer, I volunteered at the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Indiangrass Preserve, where I gained an exciting and highly enriching firsthand exposure to the complexity of a tallgrass prairie ecosystem and the efforts required to protect this invaluable resource. While volunteering at KPC, I assisted with restoration work that involved propagating Texas native plants in a nursery, transplanting nursery plants into the prairie, and of course removing invasives such as Brazilian vervain and deep-rooted sedge.

Volunteering with KPC was one of the highlights of my summer largely because it gave me the ability to build upon my own interests while also introducing me to new concepts and skills. One of the things I enjoyed most was being able to not only spend time in a beautiful landscape, but also interact with it hands-on and directly contribute to its improvement. Along with that, I was able to learn new skills, such as plant identification and plant propagation techniques, that directly contributed to my appreciation of the prairie and ways we can preserve it. I also enjoyed working with a team of likeminded volunteers who were all eager to help me learn more about the prairie and its conservation. Because of them, I was introduced to other organizations such as the Texas Master Naturalists and the Native Plant Society of Texas that I would like to become involved with in the future.

One thing that I was surprised to learn about KPC was its sheer magnitude and the broad scope of work it does to consistently strengthen the benefits the prairie provides for both the environment and people. Meeting with KPC board members and listening to their updates reminded me that this organization is responsible for more than just the Indiangrass Preserve, as there are thousands of more acres of prairie that need attention and proper management. I was interested to listen to board members describe their negotiations for funding, land acquisition, and outreach efforts – all of which require intense organization and networking. Witnessing this side of KPC allowed me to further appreciate its work and what it means to be part of a nonprofit dedicated to conservation.

Overall, my summer on the Katy Prairie deepened my understanding of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and its protection. From identifying individual plants to discussions on how tens of thousands of acres should be managed, KPC helped influence my outlook on the importance of greenspaces and how I should dedicate my interests in the future. My volunteer experience with KPC taught me how much I enjoy working with a team of highly motivated people towards an excellent cause, and how I can make a meaningful impact regardless of my experience level. In the future, I hope to use what I learned from KPC to contribute to similar conservation-oriented nonprofit groups and entities such as the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. As I go back for my final year of college, I’m grateful for the incredible memories I’ve made at KPC and the insightful experiences that have helped me further define my career interests and beyond.

See you soon on the prairie,
Lisa
Late Summer Hummingbirds
Have you see these tiny travelers?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds can be seen in the late summer in eastern Texas as they migrate south to Central America - some will fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico, nearly a day's journey over open ocean!

You can provide shelter and food sources for visiting hummingbirds by planting a hummingbird garden composed of nectar producers, insect attractors, trees, shrubs, and bushes that allows for access to open sky.

When picking out food sources for Texas hummingbirds - choose native! Try Trumpet vine, coral honeysuckle, Texas lantana, Turk's cap and any native sage.

You can celebrate hummingbirds and 'adopt' a banded hummingbird at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory's Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza on Sept. 14 & 21 from 8 am - noon. Check out the GCBO event page for more details!
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Archilochus colubris

Photos courtesy of Mac Womack
Upcoming Events On the Prairie
September Volunteer Opportunities

You can make a difference! First time volunteers, fill out a volunteer application here . We are working on a variety of different volunteer projects at Indiangrass Preserve and Shrike Prairie throughout the year. Join us during any of the times below.

Indiangrass Preserve
Tuesdays: 9 am - 3 pm
Fridays: 9 am - 1 pm
Saturdays: 9 am - 1 pm on the 1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month
First Saturday Workday - Seed Collecting at Indiangrass
Interested in learning more about seed collecting? Join us out on the prairie!

Saturday, September 7, 2019
9 am - Noon

If you would like to be added to the seed collecting email list, please contact Lshen@katyprairie.org .

What to bring/wear:

  • If you have them, please bring pruners or scissors, a bucket or a reusable grocery bag, and a pen. Supplies are available if needed.
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. We recommend you bring water, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, a long-sleeved shirt, binoculars, and camera.
  • Water and light snack are usually available.
Around the Region
Bulb & Plant Mart 2019 is October 3 - 5, 2019

The Garden Club of Houston, a KPC Supporter and 9 Native enthusiast, is hosting their 77th Annual Bulb & Plant Mart!

Admission is Free!

  • Pre-Orders for Bulbs available online June 15th to September 22nd
  • Thursday, October 3rd | 5 pm - 7 pm – Early Bird Shopping
  • Friday, October 4th | 9 am - 5 pm
  • At 11 am on Friday, speaker – Susie Marten, Outreach Specialist with the Katy Prairie Conservancy, will be giving a talk on our 9 Natives Program
  • Saturday, October 5th | 9 am - 2 pm

Location: The Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard, 77019

For more information on speakers and scheduling - visit our event page !
Interested in attending the 2019 SSPEED Conference October 8th and 9th? Our own president and CEO Mary Anne Piacentini will be presenting "Natural Resources of the Katy Prairie" on the second day. Registration is $250 and you can register here if you are interested in attending.
BIRD WEEK? Link to Audubon Calendar?
Treat Yourself!
SALE!

Get your Preserve the Katy Prairie T-shirt!
T-shirts still available here !

$15 each while supplies last.
Katy Prairie Conservancy | katyprairie.org  | 713-523-6135 | info@katyprairie.org