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Talbot Prairies

Location: Bowie County
Region: Pineywoods
Size: 114.87 acres
Ownership: Owned by NPAT.

History

Mary Talbot Prairie is a rare Silveus’ dropseed prairie which NPAT acquired in 2012 through the generous efforts of numerous parties. The Property has been in the Talbot family’s ownership for roughly 50 years; the family has owned land in the vicinity since the 1880s.  During that time, the prairie has been utilized exclusively for hay production (one annual cut, usually in early summer) with no livestock on the property.

Site Description

Vast and varied: the 114+-acre Talbot Prairie contains several ecotypes found throughout east Texas, Catahoula barrens surrounded by pine, hardwood, and bottomland forest. This lush forest and grassland region on the banks of Lake Livingston will not only be conserved in perpetuity itself but also connects several other conservation easements into a larger, contiguous conserved area.

Catahoula Barrens are rare communities of East Texas and Louisiana that have developed on shallow, coarse soils over the Catahoula formation. They are characterized by a specialized flora, and trees exist as scattered, highly stunted individuals. Large areas of bare ground, rock, and lichens are typically present. Due to the rarity of these communities and the specialized requirements of the plants found here, many are species of conservation concern.”

(source: Matt Buckingham)

The primary ecological significance of the Mary Talbot Prairie is a remnant of unplowed native grassland. Most remaining tracts of unplowed prairie in eastern Texas are small in areal extent and, without protection, will likely be further subdivided and/or converted to non-native vegetation in the future.

Silveus’ Dropseed Prairies are named for the grass that dominates there—Silveus’ or silver dropseed. Silveus’ Dropseed Prairies are an incredible scene to behold in spring and fall with beautiful prairie wildflowers, and make it well worth a visit to northeast Texas. They are found in the north and east edges of the Blackland Prairie ecoregion , in areas with higher relative precipitation. A different type of soil helped create this kind of prairie: sandier, low pH alfisol soils formed mainly on bedrocks higher in sand content and lower in calcium carbonate (limestone).

Significant Acquisition

Jason Singhurst, TPWD botanist and NPAT board member, first brought this property to our attention. It had recently been listed for sale, and the prospect of losing another example of Texas living history was a major concern! NPAT did not have the funds to compete with market buyers, but several people worked together to ensure this particular prairie was saved. The Nature Conservancy of Texas provided a grant for this purchase, and Jason and Lisa Spangler donated significant funds. (Jason, past president of NPAT, and Lisa are long time prairie enthusiasts and were delighted to see their funds make this purchase possible.) In addition, we received a grant from the Native Plant Society of Texas. The former owners also made significant contributions, in terms of making this an amicable transaction, along with their past stewardship of this property. Mary’s son, David Talbot, represented the family in this transaction.

Family Tradition: “Prairie appreciation” is a multi-generational tradition in the Talbot Family. As a boy, David cut hay for use on the family lands. He was inspired by his maternal grandfather, Lloyd Wilson (past Chairman of the Board of the First National Bank, and the son of Texas Senator, James R. Wilson. David says Lloyd encouraged him to leave the prairie as it was, as a source of feed for their livestock. This wonderful example of family wisdom resulted in long-term, sustainable land use which served the Talbot family well during the drought of 2011. This tradition will be continued as NPAT signed a Memorandum of Understanding* with the family to continue haying (activity of mowing and drying grass to make hay) as a management tool. This agreement benefits NPAT, the Talbot family, and the community as well, through the ensured availability of both local feed and a seed source for future restorations. HABITAT IS SAVED: Conserving this plant community will benefit many grassland animal species.  *(A “Memorandum of Understanding”/MOU or MoU = formal agreement between two or more parties which establish official partnerships, not legally binding but carry a degree of seriousness and mutual respect.)

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