Sunday, February 22, 2009

SAVING THE PRAIRIES - PART I


I have been learning more and more about the great North American prairies and what a treasure they are to us all! I have known for a long time that prairies are special. They host a diversity of plant and insect species. But I don't think I ever really understood the true significance of a prairie nor had I ever really learned much about them until just last year. I feel like I am only beginning my submersion into native prairie education and I am learning interesting facts with each passing season. In my first post I want to share with you some pictures and clips of my first introduction to a native prairie. This fall and winter I was able to experience what it feels like to stand there, all alone, and just listen to the grasses sway. The opportunity came my way when a local resident invited us over to see her prairie remnant. The "Quebe Prairie" as it is called, is a beautiful piece of land maintained and preserved as a native prairie. It is located in Washington County, Texas, just about 1.5 hours west of the sprawling metroplex of the city of Houston. We are lucky to have several remaining prairie remnants in this area and luckier still to have gracious land owners who invite us over to experience them!


I had originally planned to do this prairie post all in one section, but as I started gathering photos, I thought it would really be nice to see the prairie in all different seasons throughout the year. Thus started my prairie posting adventure! It has taken about 4 months so far to gather 2 seasons of pictures! So here are fall and winter pictures, I should have spring and summer pictures soon for Part II. As an added bonus, you simply must check out the 3 links at the bottom of my post. They are short videos about local prairie projects that are currently underway. You just have to see these. I can't say enough about the people who are out there working to save our prairies. I just wish more people knew more about prairies so that we didn't have to fight so hard to protect what is left.















OCTOBER 2008 - QUEBE PRAIRIE

Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Lobelia (wildflowers), and lots of other assorted grasses that I am still learning about....




video






WINTER 2009 -QUEBE PRAIRIE

This prairie gets mowed once per year as part of the maintenance plan. In winter the native grasses and forbs stay low to the ground and wait for the spring weather. If you look closely you can find all sorts of little native plants bunching up and putting on green growth in anticipation of the springtime show! If anyone wants to identify any of these plants for me, or correct anything I might have misidentified, feel free to help me out here. Like I said, I am in the learning stages!
















The prairie in January, 2009. It was cut in the fall and doesn't look like much, but when you get down in the dirt and look around......! Lots of things going on down there!



























I think this is a nice bunch of either Big Bluestem or Little Bluestem above and Mexican Hat wildflowers coming up in the picture to the right. The bottom plant I didn't recognized, maybe one of you know? It looks a bit like Penstemmon but I'm not sure.





video


My experiences on this local prairie are just beginning and I hope you can get some idea of just how beautiful it is through my pictures and clips. But it isn't enough to just post about one local remnant prairie. Through my involvement with prairie groups and native plant societies in Texas I am finding out that there are lots of other people out there who also understand how precious and unique these ecosystems are - and they are DOING SOMETHING to save them as I write. The following links should open up a few video clips that are ABSOLUTELY INSPIRING to me - I hope they will do the same for you. I had no idea that people out there are sacrificing so much of their own time and energy in order to save portions of native prairies here and there for us and for future generations as human development keeps plowing them under. They deserve to be recognized but they do it as a labor of love and without recognition, without any payment at all except the deep gratification they find in knowing that they might make a difference, little by little. They are at least DOING SOMETHING to try to save the prairies, and working against all odds to educate others before it is too late. Without their hard work and dedication the prairies would surely be gone from us all forever, and forever is a REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME.


So to all of these people in the following video clips, I say "THANK YOU" from the bottom of my heart. What you are doing is truly awe inspiring...


Texas Coastal Prairie - Saving Saums Prairie:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj_H0kJMIKg&feature=related


Texas Coastal Prairie - Volunteers Seed Saving:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI6jLeob5dM&feature=related


Katy Prairie Conservancy - Native Prairie Nursery


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RJ3R4P6ReY&feature=related