Houston Audubon, in partnership with Katy Prairie Conservancy and other environmental and government agencies, held native plant rescue events at Saums Road Prairie during the summer of 2008. The goal was to relocate native grasses and wildflowers from the Saums Road Prairie before its destruction for a development project. Plants from the prairie were transported to sites across the City of Houston to create small pocket prairies to demonstrate and educate residents on the value of coastal prairies in our native ecosystem. Houston Audubon has created three beautiful pocket prairies, each becoming wildlife magnets for butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects beneficial to birds. In addition a pocket prairie was created at Russ Pitman Park by staff and volunteers from Russ Pitman Park with help provided by Houston Audubon. The goal of the Pocket Prairie Project is to encourage visitors to these pocket prairie sites to include more native plants in their landscaping projects. Houston Audubon hopes to establish more pocket prairies in the Houston area as opportunities arise.
With Houston's accelerated rate of growth, biodiversity is being lost at a rapid pace. The Nature Conservancy and the Texas Heritage Society have labeled coastal prairies "globally imperiled". The pocket prairies are small, but they can serve as seed banks for future restoration projects. If coastal prairies are not conserved we will lose much of our region's rich natural heritage that we highly value. Individual gardeners can slow the rate of wildlife extinction by planting natives in their yards, creating wildlife corridors throughout the City.
Current pocket prairie sites created with plants from the Saums Road Prairie:
Pocket Prairie #1 was installed at Houston Audubon's Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center. The rescued native plant material has added educational opportunities and a great deal of wildlife diversity to this Houston Audubon sanctuary that serves as its Education Center.
Pocket Prairie #2 was installed at Russ Pitman Park (The Nature Discovery Center) in Bellaire. Scores of school-age and adult education programs are conducted at this second pocket prairie installation. The Center's Director is extremely pleased to have this addition to the park. She says there are flowers blooming with every change of season, attracting butterflies and other interesting wildlife.
Pocket Prairie #3 is at South Braeswood and Buffalo Speedway in south Houston. Houston Audubon, with donor support, mechanically moved 1000 sq. ft of Saums Road Prairie to this location. In cooperation with the Citizens League for Environmental Action Now, the new pocket prairie was installed August 15, 2008 adjacent to the Brays Bayou Hike and Bike Trail. Hikers and bicyclers stop by the pocket prairie and often ask when this beautiful demonstration garden can be extended further down the Bayou.
Pocket Prairie #4 was installed in March 2008, at Mandell Park on Richmond Avenue, in cooperation with the Friends of Mandell Park. All the native plants for the new pocket prairie were rescued from Saums in September 2008 and held in a nursery at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary until planting time. Although small, this pocket prairie attracted butterflies as soon as it was planted, and neighbors quickly came over to learn more about the new addition to an already beautiful City park.
Houston Audubon plans to continue native plant rescue events and education outreach by creating more urban pocket prairies. Educating and conserving valuable native prairies is central to our mission of conserving bird and wildlife habitat. In 2012 a pocket prairie was created at Houston Audubon's Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.
We are collecting seed at coastal prairies in our region to grow native grasses and wildflowers for restoration projects. Volunteers may contact
Flo Hannah to join us on seed collecting days.
Jaime Gonzalez of the Katy Prairie Conservancy has produced a video series on the Texas Coastal Priairie which is available on YouTube.
Some of the videos are: