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Wild About Houston Short Film Screening Wednesday, 6:30 pm - HNPAT Monthly Meeting Co-presenters for this event are: Houston - NPAT,…

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Conservation Easement Workshop FRIDAY, 2pm to 5pm Co-Hosts: Cibolo Conservancy and the Hill Country Alliance Hill Country…

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Saturday, beginning at 7:30 am! Deer Park Prairie - Monthly Bird Survey Come join Damien Carey for the survey and learn about the…

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Prairie Facts

The High Plains

The High Plains region of Texas, together with the Rolling Plains region, comprise the southern end of the Great Plains. The High Plains consist of about 20 million acres of a relatively level high plateau separated from the Rolling Plains by the Caprock Escarpment. The Canadian River Breaks divide this region into southern and northern sections. Elevation ranges from 3,000 to 4,500 feet, sloping gently toward the southeast. “Playa lakes” are shallow, round depressions which spot the surface, sometimes covering more than forty acres.

The southern edge adjoins the Edwards Plateau and Trans Pecos regions. A transition from productive grazing land to sand hills marks the boundary between the High Plains and the Trans Pecos.

Average annual rainfall is 15 to 21 inches. Extended droughts have occurred here several times during this century. Rainfall is lowest in winter and mid-summer and highest in April or May and September or October. Surface texture of soils on the High Plains ranges from clays on hardland sites in the north to medium textures on mixed land sites and sands in the southern portion of the region. Caliche generally underlies these surface soils at depths of two to five feet.

Irrigation farming is supported with underground water, but large areas of cattle range land remain on the High Plains. The principal large wildlife species is antelope. The vegetation on the High Plains is variously classified as mixed-prairie, short-grass prairie and in some locations as tall-grass prairie. There are distinct differences among the plant communities found on the hardlands, mixed lands, sandy lands, draws and caliche breaks. Successional patterns usually are different and relatively uncomplicated compared with other areas of Texas.

A short-grass association dominated by buffalo grass is the most important plant association on the High Plains. However, distinctly different plant communities exist on the hardlands, mixed lands, sandy lands, and draws. The region characteristically is free from brush, but mesquite and yucca have invaded parts of the area. Sandy lands support shinnery oak, and sand sage and junipers have spread out of some of the breaks onto the Plains proper.

The High Plains region is generally treeless, but mesquite and yucca have invaded. Forbs are common, but not in the abundance found in other regions of Texas. Some of the more interesting species found in the Plains Country are smooth cliff brake (Pellaea glabella), gay feather (Liatris lancifolia), Crepis runcinata, Townsendia texensis, and numerous Eriogonums, including the rare E. Correllii (Correll and Johnson).

The most abundant native grasses are buffalo grass and blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Other important grasses are side-oats grama, black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda), little bluestem, western wheat-grass, Indian grass and switchgrass, with Sand dropseed and sandbur are common on the sandy lands to the south.