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In the News

Funding Available for Urban Conservation Gardens and High Tunnels Applications for the Urban Conservation Project…

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REMAINING December 2017 Chapter Meetings and those planned for January & February, 2018: Please monitor chapter pages (links below) and News & Events pages!…

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Tuesday, 7-8:30 pm San Antonio NPAT Chapter Monthly Meeting“MISSION REACH Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project”,  Environmental Sciences, San Antonio…

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Prairie Facts

Our Blog

Loss of 3 NPAT Patrons Marked in 2017

Tuesday, Dec 05, 2017

Father Peter Conaty died in April, 2017

Father Peter Conaty, and his wife Susan Conaty were instrumental in saving the Nash Prairie and supported efforts to save Deer Park Prairie. 
From David Bezanson of The Nature Conservancy, “Peter was rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Columbia, Texas, and it’s due to the vision and leadership of Peter and Susan, his wife, that TNC was able to acquire Nash Prairie Preserve from the church and hospital district in 2011. This article is a reminder of Peter’s eloquence and commitment to conservation. Peter lived an extraordinarily full and interesting life, which was documented in the local newspaper when he retired from St. Mary’s earlier this year. 
Memorial Service for Father Peter Conaty was held September 17, 2017, at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, West Columbia Tx. An Open Prairie Day and committal of ashes was at the Nature Conservancy’s Nash Prairie Preserve following the church service.

Kunda Wicce (nee Lee Stone), died in August, 2017

A biologist, conservationist, environmental advocate and activist mentor, Kunda Lee, was loved and admired by folks of many circles. She was a passionate advocate for prairies…
One of the last items she wrote as president, Fall, 2008 NPAT Newsletter, gives a sense of our history. In the photo of her at Daphne Prairie she was holding grasses, something she always seemed to be doing!

James Alderson, died in October, 2017

James Alderson was active with NPAT after his retirement from the NRCS and was a member since 1986. He was another VIP in the history and development of NPAT: was very active in the Maddin restoration in the early 2000s and President of NPAT for a period of time and later served as program director. He really was passionate about prairies and knowledgeable about restoration.

First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017

On Saturday, October 28, 2017, NPAT and others from conservation organizations enjoyed the 1-day experiences with some Wilson County residents at the Wildlife and Grassland Restoration Workshop co-sponsored by NPAT and Wilson County Wildlife Management Association.

Then, within the short span of 9 days, tragedy occurred in Wilson County not far from where our Workshop was held!  We feel many ‘prairie enthusiasts’ we met on the Kirchoff Family Farm and Three Oaks Community Center, likely know some who perished or were physically injured, they may be a friend or relative of those individuals who were in First Baptist Church Sunday, November 5, 2017.  Please know that our thoughts are with each of you at this most difficult time.  We encourage you to reach out to friends and neighbors for comfort and support.  We hope you can seek refuge in the beautiful, vast prairie lands that surround you in Wilson County.

NPAT Board of Directors, Staff Members, and Volunteers

USDA-Funding Available for Urban Conservation Gardens and High Tunnel

Thursday, Nov 02, 2017

Funding Available for Urban Conservation Gardens and High Tunnels Temple, Texas, November 2, 2017

In an effort to address food deserts and educating urban citizens and youth on the benefits of locally grown fresh produce and greening of the urban landscape, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) is accepting applications to establish community and pollinator gardens and seasonal high tunnels through the Texas NRCS Urban Conservation Project.

The Texas NRCS Urban Conservation Project is an effort to challenge community organizations, educational institutions and Indian tribes to establish community and school gardens across Texas.  Addressing hunger with an urban garden can bring communities together and initiate other positive outcomes for people.  Pollinator habitat planned with urban gardens can provide an increase in harvest potential while providing food and habitat for declining insect communities in Texas.
“The simple act of planning a garden can help unite neighbors in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our state,” said Salvador Salinas, TX NRCS State Conservationist. “The challenges that can be addressed with locally-led solutions can be diverse in an urban setting.”

Grants are available up to $4,000 for a community garden and $6500 for a seasonal high tunnel.

Community gardens and seasonal high tunnel projects must be located in one of the following counties:
Bexar, Brazos, Cameron, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Hidalgo, Jefferson, Lubbock, Maverick, McLennan, Nueces, Polk, Potter, Tarrant, Travis, Webb and Wichita to be eligible for funding.

Grants are available for up to $3000 for Monarch butterfly gardens.

Preference will be given to Monarch butterfly gardens in the following counties because of their strategic location within the Monarch butterfly’s flight paths during their spring and fall migrations: 
Atascosa, Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Comal, Dallas, Ellis, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Hays, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Kerr, Lee, Limestone, Llano, Navarro, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson, and Wilson.

Applications for the Urban Conservation Project are due by December 15, 2017.

The Notice of Funding Opportunity is available at https://www.grants.gov.
The Opportunity number is USDA-NRCS-TX-UCP-18-01
the title is Texas NRCS Urban Conservation Project.

Applicants can also enter the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 10.902 to search for this grant. 
Questions can be directed to Bertha T. Venegas, (830) 249-3508 extension 103.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Save The Dates: November 10-12, 2017 - Denton, TX

Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

WATCH THE SKYS!  POLLINATOR MIGRATIONS ARE BEGINNING!

Tuesday, Aug 01, 2017

WATCH THE SKYS!  MIGRATIONS ARE BEGINNING!

MONITOR “LIVE” ON WEBSITES!

As we progress through the upcoming weeks of our LONG – HOT SUMMER, we can observe some of our feathered friends as they fly south to their winter homes in Central America and South America. 

Migrations begin for the Purple Martins, Hummingbirds, Monarch Butterflies, and Mexican Free-tailed Bats (just to name a few, plus swallows, cranes, and many more)!  Some of the migrations can be observed online thanks to some very clever technology:

MIGRATIOIN OF MONARCH BUTTERFLY Danaus plexippus

Observe the Monarch Migration - Report Summer Sightings on the U.S. Forest Service’s migration map!

Early Spring to Late Summer Timeline:
In late February or early March Monarch Butterflies awake from hibernation where they’ve been in the protected forests of oyamel fir trees in Central Mexico. They find a mate and begin the long journey northward for to spend spring and summer in warmer climates and pollinate plants as they travel to north or northeast areas of North America (U.S. and Canada).  Each generation lives 2-6 weeks; each progresses northward during those weeks, each generation will live long enough to lay eggs, then it dies.

The fourth generation begins migrating southward in early autumn; they must fly thousands of miles (taking several weeks) to reach their destination in Central Mexico by November.  There they will hibernate until late February or early March when they will mate and begin the long journey northward. (We have observed spring arrivals in Central Texas; they like to lay their eggs on milkweed plants.) Remember each generation (first, second, and third) usually lives no longer than a period of 6 weeks, during which they have mated, laid their eggs, and died. Some of the fourth generation fly as far north as Canada by May and June.

MIGRATE SOUTH FOR WINTER The Monarch Butterfly cannot survive cold winters of northern climates, so in early fall, monarchs living in eastern North America migrates south, funneling through Texas and hugging the Gulf Coast on their way to central Mexico.  The last generation is responsible for the Monarch Butterflies’ survival: it MUST fly to Central Mexico so they can hibernate over the winter months!  It is amazing to realize these butterflies have never flown the southern migration route nor seen the oyamel fir tree forest in Central Mexico.  (They were all born in far North America months after their ‘ancestors’, the first, second and third generations made their journeys living just long enough to mature, mate, and lay eggs of future generations before dying.  Each newly hatched generation lived to fly its portion of the journey.)  The entire Monarch Butterfly population will hibernate in fewer than 20 sites within the exact same oyamel fir trees in which their ancestors hibernated.  Imagine 20-30 million in clusters to keep warm. 
Photo of Oyamel Fir Tree in Central Mexico:

MIGRATION of the MEXICAN FREE-TAILED BAT Tadarida brasiliensis

“BAT-WATCH” LIVE!
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department collaborated with Bat Conservation International and recently introduced the site: Bat-Watching Sites of Texas!   It highlights 12 Texas bat-watching sites (4 are TPWD properties!) and covers general bat biology, lists bat species in Texas, discusses white-nose syndrome (WNS), and explains bat-watching etiquette.

The Nature Conservancy wrote that the Eckert James River Bat Cave is one of the largest bat nurseries in the country. Photo of Bats near the Eckert James River Bat Cave:

Mexican free-tailed bats are the most common bat found throughout Texas. These mammals are VERY BENEFICIAL, as they are agents of seed dispersal and cross-pollination for many plant species.  They join other beneficial pollinators, purple martins, hummingbirds and swallows, in helping control insect populations!  Each bat consumes close to its body weight in insects (they eat mosquitoes and numerous crop pests such as cutworm and corn borer moths).  Like the Monarch Butterflies, the bats, who are mammals, also winter in Mexico, but they settle into and remain in caves!  Mexican free-tailed bats begin their migration southward in October through mid-November (when the first cold fronts start to push through).  Like the monarchs, they also fly to central Mexico, but they spend the winter in caves.  Then in February they begin their northward migration to Texas.

The female bats form large “maternity colonies” where they will raise their young.  They require high humidity and high temperature levels (so Texas is perfect)! 
Once the bats mate, the male bats move into their new, smaller “bachelor colonies”.  They live away from females and pups and are not involved in raising the young.
The mother bats’ milk is very rich; so within 4-5 weeks they have grown and are ready to fly.  The mothers and pups remain in the ‘maternity colonies’; it gets VERY crowded. They roost in densities of up to 500 pups per square foot. The mother has miraculous hearing; each mother can return from eating insects and fly directly into the cave to her own baby by using her sense of smell and knowing the sound of their pup’s call.

Then, when the first cold fronts start pushing through in late October to mid-November, the Mexican free-tailed bats begin their migration to Mexico for the winter.

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