NPAT is hiring an Executive Director!
Native Prairies Association of Texas (TX), Executive Director – NPAT seeks a full time Executive Director with a passion for conservation to lead the organization in its mission to conserve and restore the native prairies and other grasslands of Texas. NPAT is a land trust protecting over 1,200 acres of native Texas prairie, including critically imperiled tallgrass prairie.
Responsibilities include fundraising and donor relations, strategic planning, and community outreach in addition to overall management of the organization. Candidates should possess a successful fundraising record, strong communication and management skills, and experience with conservation. Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience. NPAT is an equal opportunity employer.
To apply, send cover letter, resume, and references to: (preferred) email@example.com or NPAT, Search Committee, 2002 – A Guadalupe St. PMB 290, Austin, TX 78705-5609. Applications accepted until position is filled (please submit by March 31st, 2008).
Visit http://texasprairie.org/ for a full job description and more information about NPAT.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a great article about tallgrass prairie, prairie conservation, and the Flint Hills of Oklahoma and Kansas:
"I could have been in Africa. Before me the tawny savanna stretched unimpeded to a horizon where it met a vast ceiling of blue. The soft folds of land were stippled with grazing wildlife: enormous wildebeest-like creatures munching peacefully on the ochre carpet of grasses. This was Oklahoma, though the vistas that I surveyed were as beautiful, once as widespread and every bit as endangered as the grasslands thousands of miles away.
I had come to Oklahoma to revisit the tallgrass prairie that, as little as 100 years ago, covered 142 million acres of the country’s heart in a great swath that ran from Manitoba to the Gulf of Mexico. Today, less than 10 percent of the original tallgrass prairie remains, most of it given over to farming. The few enduring unbroken stretches lie in areas too difficult to cultivate: in the appropriately named Flint Hills of Oklahoma and Kansas."
Read the full article, Into the Bluestem Sea by Linda Watanabe McFerrin, on the San Francisco Chronicle’s web page.
I’m back! Sorry for the month that I did not post: I transferred to a new position at work, and in addition I have been busy with NPAT work regarding grants and getting ready to hire an executive director!
Clymer Meadow, the largest protected tallgrass prairie in Texas’ Blackland Prairie, grew by 57 acres due to a donation from a generous landowner to The Nature Conservancy during 2007.
See a slideshow of native prairie flowers and grasses at Clymer Meadow in NPAT’s photo album.
From The Nature Conservancy:
Highlights of The Nature Conservancy’s Texas conservation achievements in 2007 include:
– A donation of 57 acres of virgin tallgrass prairie at Clymer Meadow by a private landowner whose family has owned the land since the 1850s
The property, adjacent to the Conservancy’s Clymer Meadow Preserve north of Dallas, adds to the diversity of the preserve with a different composition of grass species. The family has worked with the Conservancy for 13 years to maintain the prairie through conservation management practices and is a member of the organization’s Texas Land Stewards’ Society. The land donation brings the total of Clymer Meadow Preserve to 1,045 acres.
First Lady Laura Bush, President Bush, and Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) member Mike Williams recently toured the tallgrass prairie restoration at the first couple’s Prairie Chapel Ranch with reporter Bret Baier. Mike Williams is the restoration project leader and owner of NPAT-protected Simpson Prairie.
View the video of the tour at the Fox News web site, where the first couple and Mike talk about prairie restoration, Simpson Prairie, and the Native Prairie Association of Texas.
Mike Williams has been using prairie seed collected from Simpson Prairie as the main seed source for the prairie restoration project on Prairie Chapel Ranch, where he is planting native plants such as the native grasses and prairie flowers that thrived on the land before European settlement.
Mike protected Simpson Prairie, a rare and beautiful remnant of Texas tallgrass prairie, for current and future generations via a conservation easement with NPAT. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and land trust which permanently protects native prairie or other natural features of the property in perpetuity.
Additional seed sources for the prairie restoration project on the Bush Ranch include NPAT members Bob and Mickey Burleson’s native prairie remnant and restoration near Temple, TX.
Laura Bush also wrote an article that appears on the Fox News web site about native prairie restoration and resources available to private landowners.
A field trip to Mike Williams’ Simpson Prairie near Valley Mills will be held on Saturday, May 3rd at 9:30am. We will meet at the bank parking lot on the northwest corner of the main intersection in Crawford and then proceed to Simpson Prairie.
Beautiful and productive tallgrass prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America, and less that 1% of Texas’ tallgrass prairie remains for current and future generations. Native prairie is also habitat for the grassland birds, the most declining group of birds in North America. Conservation and ecological restoration of tallgrass prairie is an important method to protect and increase habitat for the imperiled native plant communities and prairie wildlife like grassland birds.
Native grasslands also protect and improve water quality and sequester carbon in the soil to fight climate change. Tallgrass prairie plantings have been shown to be the best source of cellulosic biofuel while simultaneously sequestering more carbon in the soil than is released by its use as fuel.
You can help protect native prairie by joining the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT). You can also restore native prairie on your own land, and if you own a remnant or restored tallgrass prairie please consider a conservation easement with a land trust like NPAT.
Go to the Fox News website to view the video of Laura and George Bush and Mike Williams and read the prairie restoration article by Laura Bush. View a slideshow of native prairie flowers and grasses on Simpson Prairie at NPAT’s web site.
The March 30, 2007 issue of "Rangeland Ecology and Management" contains an interesting article, "Blackland tallgrass prairie vegetation dynamics following cessation of herbicide application", applicable to native prairie hay meadows.
K.R. Hickman, and J.D. Derner of the USDA ARS found that removing herbicide applications of Blackland Prairie remnants after 25 years of application led to a dramatic increase in annual forbs but not the return of many later successional perennial forbs (herbaceous flowering plants aka the good prairie flowers) that should be present. They suggested that conservation efforts may need to include reintroduction of perennial forb species that were killed by the herbicide application.
Some prairie hay meadows are unfortunately herbicided in the mistaken belief it will lead to more forage per dollar, but most groups including Kansas State University say that costs (herbicide and application) are not worth it economically and do not justify application. Also, native plant enthusiasts and conservationists are also against mass herbicide use because it leads to a decrease in biodiversity by killing the perennial native plant species (especially the pretty prairie flowers) that are so rare. This seems like another instance when the range management/agricultural point of view and the scientific/conservation point of view agree.
For example, "Forage Facts: Native Hay Meadow Management" from Kansas State University says: "Many perennial forbs improve hay quality and do not compete with grasses for moisture or nutrients. Harvesting by mid-July controls most undesirable annual weeds. Leaving hay bales in the meadow kills underlying vegetation and provides spots for annual weed invasion."
Of course, it is better if herbicide is never applied en-mass to native hay meadows and only used in restoration efforts to eliminate non-native and invasive plants and control woody invaders (like mesquite). This would avoid the dramatic increase of annual forbs and also avoid the need for restoration of perennial forbs caused by the herbicide usage.
Citation: Hickman, K.R., Derner, J.D. 2007. Blackland tallgrass prairie vegetation dynamics following cessation of herbicide application. Rangeland Ecology and Management 60:186-190.
A new issue of the Texas Prairie Journal (formerly the Prairie Dog), the newsletter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), has been released!
All NPAT members should be receiving their issue in the mail very soon.
Featured articles in this issue include:
– Saving Texas Prairies
– NPAT Receives Tallgrass Prairie Grants
– Tandy Hills: Prairies & People – Oil & Gas
If you are not a member, join NPAT to receive future issues of the Texas Prairie Journal! You may join online here, or print out a membership form and submit it via postal mail.
A huge thanks to Kirsti Harms, NPAT’s new editor whose incredible design skills have upgraded the newsletter!
Yes, native prairies and plants can save the world! Okay, I admit, help save the world.
The basic premise: We can restore large amounts of native prairie while helping (1) solve global warming, (2) achieve energy independence, and (3) increase water availability and quality.
It is also an ecological solution: native plant and plant community restoration creates habitat for native plants, grassland birds, and other wildlife.
To the right is a draft presentation I am putting together on the subject. Just click the forward button to advance through the slideshow. I will add the pretty native plant or prairie landscape photos in the future.
Imagine if large foundations and companies got behind such a project, creating public/private partnerships that would lead to large amounts of diverse tallgrass prairie being planted for the dual purpose of biofuel and habitat restoration. I’d love to be part of that.
This could ecologically supply the large amounts of biomass that Vinod Kholsa believes will be needed for cellulosic biofuel plants (see his posts on Grist: 1, 2, 3, and 4).
If you have any feedback or suggestions, please leave a comment. Thanks!
In addition to the positive potential of native prairie plantings being used for cellulosic biofuel, there is also risk to native prairies: that existing prairie remnants might be plowed up to plant corn or another biofuel crop. With so little tallgrass prairie remaining (estimates in Texas are less than 1%) and the potential for prairie biofuel and carbon sequestration, this would be a travesty in my opinion.
Loosing more tallgrass prairie to plowing is a higher risk in the near future with corn ethanol increasing corn prices. Ducks Unlimited and others have already reported on native grassland plantings being plowed up when their CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) agreements expire, leading to loss for grassland bird and duck habitat.
This is bad for grassland birds, but I think CRP plantings tend to be low diversity plantings so plowing of prairie remnants would be even worse for native plant communities than loss of CRP plantings.
An article from BBC News, "Biofuels ‘are not a magic bullet’", says:
"Biofuels could play an important role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transport, both in Britain and globally," said Professor John Pickett from Rothamsted Research, who chaired the Royal Society’s study.
"But it would be disastrous if biofuel production made further inroads into biological diversity and natural ecosystems.
"We must not create new environmental or social problems in our efforts to deal with climate change."
Interested in seeing native Californian grasslands in the Central Valley? If you wanted to see the grasslands at Great Valley Grasslands State Park, you may want to go soon: it may be closed to visitors due to budget cuts.
(It sounds like CA would still keep the park but close it to visitors, unlike Texas where the General Land Office would unashamedly sell it off to the highest bidder.)
From the Central Valley Business Times, "Schwarzenegger: Lesser-used state parks to be closed":
"State parks, beaches and museums would be closed under budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor’s plan would shut down 43 state parks and curtail operations at five others. …
Among the parks to be closed are: … Great Valley Grasslands State Park in Merced County – The park is one of the last intact examples of native grasslands on the floor of the Central Valley. It is part of the larger Grasslands Ecological Area of federal, state and private lands all managed for wildlife values. Several rare and endangered plant and animal species inhabit the park."
From a California Native Plant Society web page (with photos) "Vernal Pools: A Vanishing Habitat", it sounds like the park may have vernal pools.
Photo of Jepson Prairie Vernal Pool by Lisa Spangler.