Bill Holston's KERA Commentary on Preserving What Remains of Dallas's Blackland Prairie

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Attorney and Friend of Unfair Park Bill Holston posts semi-regular pieces to FrontBurner under the header Law Man Walking, in which the nature-trekker documents his strolls through the heretofore oft-overlooked slices o' heaven that remain in and around the city limits. And when Bill's not penning those, he's contributing to KERA-FM, where, this morning, he offered an audio essay titled "Preserving Prairie," in which he talks about efforts to save what's left of the Texas blackland prairies:
One of the best examples of how to preserve Blackland Prairie is at White Rock Lake. Local Master Naturalist Becky Rader identified an open field as a remnant prairie, which had never been plowed. She then worked with volunteers in preserving it. Volunteers from North Texas Master Naturalists, students from SMU, Texas Parks and Wildlife all worked together to preserve this area. They worked with the city of Dallas Parks department to time mowing to encourage the growth of native grasses and forbs. Now, we have an oasis of wildflowers and native grass that don't require watering.
Listen to the whole thing here.
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7 comments
pak152
pak152

"had never been plowed"  and how could they tell?

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

the diversity and types of plants indicate that the blackland soil was never disturbed. Pastures produce and entirely different set of plants.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Sorry Bill, but the area benefitted from benign neglect, that's exactly what is needed to preserve it.  No human hands are needed. Nor is the Blackland Prairie endangered. That indomitable force creeps into our yards without cease. The Prairie will win, it's just a question of how long we can keep it at bay.

Personally I enjoy using true natives from the Blackland Prairie in landscapes. Here are a few plants for you to tryTrees:Mexican PlumCedar Elm Roughleaf DogwoodRed BudShrubs:AgaritoBlackberryAmerican BeautyberryCoralberryTurk's CapDatura (Jimson Weed)Carolina JessamineCrossvineMustang Grapes

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

great list Scott. How about Eve's Necklace?  I sure see lots of it around. Also, what do you think of Burr Oak's they sure are a pretty tree.

As far as being endangered, the problem is that Prairies eventually turn into forests without fire and buffalo. So, as we pave more and more, and more and more pasture creeps towards juniper woodlands.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Eve's Necklaces are nice, though I don't see them naturally very often here.  Seems to me the belong (native range) more in the Hill country proper.  I'm not sure the Juniper haters really understand the mechanical element they provide.  In Cedar Hill in the Eastern Cross Timbers and in the Hill Country junipers do break up the soil in a way that no grasses ever could.  Their roots can crumble limestone outcroppings.  I know they are said to be water hogs and the like, but I think they may do more good than they get credit for.  I'm very interested in the reclamation of sites where Junipers are removed, the grass allowed to grow and spring literally spring up where they had been dry so long they were forgotten.  It's fascinating stuff, and I'm all for preservation of natural areas.  Though I think we get a bit anal about virgin lands too, and fine points like excluding Eve's Necklaces cause their native range is 100 miles to the South. 

Other natives:Possumhaw HollyReverchon HawthornRusty Blackhaw ViburnumFlameleaf Sumac

Horseherb Woodviolets

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

I agree to a point. The fact that it was never plowed which is what preserved it as prairie. But, there's lots of work involved in identifying plants, determining that it was in fact prairie, and advocating for it to be preserved. The real work is in education and advocacy, otherwise stuff gets paved.

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