Announcements from the June 2021 Chapter Meeting

Highlights from the June 2021 Chapter Meeting

The Announcements
View the full set of June announcements by clicking here. With so much going on, only announcement highlights were presented at the chapter meeting. More opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available here.

Important COVID-19 return to service update: NTMN face-to-face activities are re-opened! We’re tracking with CDC guidance and continue to encourage wearing masks and social distancing. Details here

Highlights of the meeting

 Another great Camera Roll this month. Thanks to everyone who submitted photos – please keep them coming – and thanks to Ashleigh Miller, Class of ’21, for putting this show together.

Congratulations on this 1st Quarter Achievement: Whitney Wolf reached her 4000 Hour Milestone! If you’re a member of this chapter, you have benefited from Whitney’s fine work. Thank you, Whitney, for all your service to NTMN.

Texas Blackland Prairie – Past, Present, Future

We’re so grateful to Brandon Belcher for a highly informative presentation on Blackland Prairies. Brandon is the North Texas Preserves Manager for The Nature Conservancy. His work focuses especially on the Clymer Meadow Preserve near Celeste. Listening to Brandon is both learning opportunity and call to action.

Texas is a grassland state, with two-thirds of its area falling in grassland ecoregions. Brandon led us through a review of Texas grasslands, from the High Plains to the Gulf Prairies, shortgrass to tallgrass. Because the prairie is so fertile, much has gone under plow, resulting in the highly fragmented and severely altered conditions we see today.

Turning to the Blackland Prairie ecosystem, Brandon shared sobering statistics. Of the original 15 million acres, less than 1% remains intact. Of these, only 5,000-7,000 acres are quality remnants, with the lion’s share in just 3 preserves. As urbanization progresses, it brings habitat loss, increased pollution, and decreased connectedness.

Invasive species constitute another major threat to prairies. With limited resources to manage Clymer Meadow, Brandon is pragmatic and prioritizes invasives. Tall fescue, Johnson grass, perennial rye, yellow sweet clover, and purple scabiosa are among those topping his list.

Always in motion – Every player has a part  Discussing biodiversity and resiliency, Brandon explained two critical principles. First, prairies are dynamic systems, a shifting mosaic responding to abiotic and biotic conditions and to disturbances. This is shown in cycles of succession such as the shift from annuals toward perennials in the years following a fire. Second is ecological niche: the fact that all species have a place and a function in the ecosystem. Each is affected by environmental conditions and each influences their immediate environs.

Protect – Restore – Connect  In protecting prairies it is important to prioritize the best candidates, manage them properly, and provide for long-term preservation. Restoring needs to use the best practices available. For example, using the highest quality seed, preferably locally adapted.

Increasing connectedness is vital to resiliency. It improves genetic transfer opportunities. Brandon shared strategies to improve connection in the Clymer Meadow area, including some properties to acquire. He also identified key riparian corridors that could connect with Parkhill Prairie and beyond.

Brandon left us with this challenge: How can we best promote biodiversity in North Texas? He encouraged us to reflect on these options:
– Learn more about our native species   –Remove invasives in natural spaces
– Volunteer to assist with ecosystem management
– Donate
– Add more native plants to my home gardens
– Get more involved

Key Quote: “It takes an army of resources and energy – let’s capitalize on our training to engage others.”

Further Information:

Clymer Meadow Preserve

The Nature Conservancy – Restoring Grasslands

LLELA Prairie Restoration

Native Prairies Association of Texas

TPWD Native Grassland Restoration Guidelines

The recording of the meeting is available here.

Thanks to our guests and members for participating in this month’s meeting. I hope all feel welcome at NTMN.

Take care,

Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

 

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