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Celebrating the Paul Mathews Prairie!!

Sunday, Dec 30, 2018

A day of celebrating NPAT’s beautiful prairie near Floyd, TX, not far from Greenville on Saturday, December 1, 2018!

Preparations for the evening celebration at the historic “Landmark on Lee Street” began months in advance with the goal of creating a celebratory atmosphere with delicious food and perhaps even a ‘pot-luck dessert table’! 

It was a Saturday afternoon and evening celebrating this THRIVING native prairie!  The night before brought heavy thunderstorms, but the morning opened with bright sunshine, a clear sky, cool temperatures, and a very brisk north breeze!  The prairie welcomed several enthusiasts who walked over the numerous galgai while admiring the dried formerly frost-bitten flora, and we even disturbed a few sedge wrens from their warm protected nesting places out of the wind. Our prairie tour ended after a couple of fast-passing hours.

NPAT friends and members had waited to celebrate having purchased this remnant prairie, we took advantage of this weekend’s events and shared quality time with individuals we don’t usually have the opportunity to share such rich experiences. We also became acquainted with Paul Mathews, life-long resident of Greenville and a most dedicated conservationist!

We were introduced to and intrigued by wonderful speakers who focused on the man, Paul Mathews!  (The small community of Greenville was a place where everyone knew everyone. The Mathews family lived in Greenville, very near this pristine prairie where Paul was able to spend many days throughout his 101 years of life! He grew up and achieved his dream; he purchased ‘Paul’s Prairie’! ) Paul Mathews was a true conservationist. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department awarded him their distinguished Lone Star Land Steward Award in 1998 Celebrating Excellence in Private Land Conservation. (Established in 1996, the annual Lone Star Land Steward Award recognizes and honors private landowners in Texas for their contributions to natural resource conservation and management.)

The Saturday evening program began with Pat Merkord, retired NPAT executive director, reviewing NPAT and our Chapters’ accomplishments and goals on our 2019 horizon. She then introduced the crowd to NPAT’s history with the Paul Mathews Prairie and concluded with our ability to purchase it thanks to so many VERY GENEROUS individuals, securing its protection! 
-Amy read a letter from one of Mr. Matthews’ friends, Jim Eidson, whose humorous remembrances made everyone feel we knew Mr. Mathews.
-We were introduced to a gentleman few of us knew, Dr. Jim Conrad.  Having grown up in Greenville, he knew Paul Mathews and shared his dedication to preserve native resources.  Dr. Conrad approached Mr. Mathews as a potential buyer and convinced him he would continue Paul’s efforts and preserve his prairie. (The property retained Paul Mathews’ name instead of Dr. Conrad requesting NPAT to identify it by another.)  Dr. Conrad’s quiet demeanor blossomed as he recalled the relationship between Paul Mathews and himself, adding to the evening’s light-hearted atmosphere!  We very much appreciate Dr. Conrad taking time to join our evening celebration. 
-TNC’s Brandon Belcher, caregiver of Paul Mathews Prairie; author, Matt White; NPAT board member, David Bezanson; and NPAT interim executive director, Kirsti Harms, addressed the group as well. 

Many NPAT members solicited donations for our first attempt at a ‘silent auction’; we knew we would need to raise additional monies to cover expenses of our Celebration.  The photos reflect items donated by generous individuals and organizations; the silent auction was more successful than we anticipated.  We extend a ‘BIG thank you’ to those who contributed to the Paul Mathews Silent Auction!  We appreciate their generous support:
Bob Jones Nature Center; Botanical Research Institute of Texas; Conservation History Association of Texas; Douglass King Seeds; Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center; Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary; Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area; Native American Seed, Cool River Cabin; The Nature Conservancy Texas; River Legacy Living Science Center; Texas Discovery Gardens; Texas Master Naturalist; Trader Joe’s; Treehouse Dallas; Trinity River Audubon Center; Turner Seeds; and Weston Gardens.

“Here’s to Paul Mathews!!” Your legacy is protected in perpetuity!”

Photos of the day and evening courtesy of Amy Martin and Denise Costello:

A colorful mural of downtown Greenville:

Ready to walk:                                                    Brandon Belcher, TNC, guiding tour. 

                                                                          Beautiful, even after frosts, is the
Anne Weis admiring Paul Mathews Prairie:              fluffy bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus)

Paul Mathews Prairie’s neighbor: a solar farm; works out well!

Our evening celebration of this Greenville-area prairie was held in the Landmark on Lee Street in Greenville. This restored hall served as the U.S. Post Office, site where many young men and women signed up to serve our country during WWII.

                                                                            Dr. Conrad grew up in Greenville and knew
                                                                            Paul Mathews well. He vowed to continue Paul’s
Amy Martin reading Jim Eidson’s letter                     legacy when he purchased the land from him,
remembering Paul Mathews:                                    and NPAT and TNC will do the same.

                                                                          Everyone enjoyed each other’s company
Matt White addressed the group:                                    and delicious food!

Here is a peek at the great hall where multiple tables were setup to accommodate all the donated items for the silent auction.  A very wide variety was available, books, seeds, artifacts, matted photos of NPAT prairies, hand-made textile items, DVDs, art work, and much more!

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