FeThroughout the fall at the Tiger Prairie, the foliage may have looked brown, but while resting, our plants were busy "rooting down" and producing seeds for new growth in the spring. Grasses that flourished were little bluestem, bushy bluestem, Knotroot/marsh bristle-grass, silver bluestem, splitbeard bluestem, switchgrass, sideoats grama, big bluestem, florida paspalum, yellow indiangrass, and longspike tridens: a huge success this year! To help our prairie ecosystem diversify during this successional process, the Katy High School World Warriors and the Cinco Ranch Environmental Club joined forces and planted two pounds of Texas Coastal Prairie Seed Mix on February 1. Over 30 hard working students also sheet-mulched a patch of grass burrs with more work to follow.
For these students, the prairie is their stadium. It is where their passion lives and how they want to spend their time and energy. We are so proud of them and the desire they have to make the world a better place.
Thank-you to the Lady Bird Johnson Seed Grant and the Native American Seed Company for our seeds! We can't wait to see the fruits of our labor blossom this spring. A big thank-you also to Iris Poteet from the Katy Prairie Conservancy for our seed and stem bouquet and for helping us to remember that what looked lifeless, will soon be ready to bloom once again!
Thanks to Cane Island Community, the Tiger Prairie is a place to enjoy some sunshine and lots of nature. Now, there is also a space for a whole class of students to gather and learn. The prairie in front of Katy High School has four large tables with benches long enough to seat up to eight students per table. The outdoor furniture is nestled under a giant live oak in the northeast section of the prairie, which is located at the corner of Highway 90 and FM 1463. Read the full story here: https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/katy/news/article/Tiger-Prairie-at-Katy-High-School-gets-new-15689464.php
On July 22, 2019, eleven Katy ISD teachers visited the Nash Prairie Preserve, a 400-acre tract that is one of the last remaining segments of the Great Coastal Prairie. Nash was once part of the KNG Ranch, which was run by socialite Kittie Nash Groce, and now is managed by The Nature Conservancy and the expert stewardship of Susan M. Conaty. Susan, and fellow prairie-enthusiast Mark Morgernstern (of Morning Star Prairie Plants) gave an amazing tour of this pristine piece of prairieland to workshop-goers, guiding them through the preserve that contains over 300 different plant species, including several rare species and at least one type of grass thought to be extinct in Texas since the 1800s. Highlights of the evening included identification of various insects (praying mantis, orb spiders and dragonflies), innumerable prairie plant species, and an introduction to the local coastal geology. Less than one percent of the Great Coastal Prairie still exists, and barely a fraction of it is virgin prairie like Nash…this was an amazing opportunity for Katy teachers to experience a remnant prairie first-hand: many thanks to Susan and Mark for making the sunset prairie workshop an amazing experience for all!
Yesterday was a big day for the Tiger Prairie! Katy High School was visited by members from the KISD Board of Trustees, where founding prairie teachers Dr. Rhonda Burrough and Kelly Knight received a $2500 Inspiring Imagination educational grant! These funds will be used to purchase prairie plants (like native TX milkweed, little bluestem, gamma grass, and many others!) to help restore the Tiger Prairie back to its original, wild-beauty! These native plants will be part of our permanent outdoor classroom, creating a legacy of learning for upcoming generations. Many thanks to the Katy ISD Education Foundation for their generous support!
Left to right: Principal Dr. Richard Hull, prairie project teachers Dr. Rhonda Burrough and Kelly Knight, and KHS Science Instructional Coach Susan Barker.
We are so excited to announce the generous support of our latest sponsor, CEMEX. CEMEX is well-known for being active in the communities in which the company works and lives, investing heavily to support the social and economic development of the Katy community. CEMEX will be donating funds to build a series of crushed-granite trails, making the Tiger Prairie accessible to all. Thank you CEMEX!
Great news for our Tiger Prairie! We are officially a Texan by Nature certified site. What does a Texan by Nature certification mean? In 2011 Mrs. Laura Bush founded Texan by Nature to unite business and conservation leaders who believe our state’s prosperity is dependent on the conservation of our natural resources. Texan by Nature works by amplifying projects and activating new investments in conservation, and in turn, creating real benefits for people, prosperity and natural resources. Texan by Nature achieves these goals through their Texan by Nature Certification program, Conservation Wrangler program, and Symposia series.
Being Texan by Nature certified is an incredible honor, linking us to other teams across the state that are committed to preserving Texas natural resources; Katy High School is now part of a bigger movement showcasing how we can all do better utilizing our land, even in an urban community! We are so proud to be acknowledged by this amazing organization...another big step in the Tiger Prairie journey! Please check out our tile on the Texan By Nature website here:
Thanks to the generous support of Keep Katy Beautiful (KKB) and FastSigns, two beautiful signs were installed this afternoon on the Tiger Prairie! Sinage was designed by KKB affiliate coordinator Jess Washburn, and printed and installed by FastSigns; signs were installed along major thoroughfares by the Katy High School, on Hwys 90 and 1463. The 'groundbreaking' today was attended by KKB vice president Paula Taylor, KKB chairman Sandy Schmidt, KKB chairman Ashley Freel, KHS Principal Dr. Richard Hull, and KHS prairie project members Dr. Rhonda Burrough, Susan Barker, and Kelly Knight.
New sinage on the Tiger Prairie! (Pictured from left to right: Dr. Rhonda Burrough, Paula Taylor, Susan Barker and Sandy Schmidt)
Wildflowers already in-bloom on the Tiger Prairie
Monarch Watch recenty announced that Katy High School and Westside High School have been selected as recipients of one flat of milkweed plants, to be planted in the Tiger Prairie and Wolf Prairie. This flat of 50 plugs of native Texas milkweed (Asclepias viridis) will be an important addition to our prairie as we become a certified monarch waystation; the milkweed will provide a valuable food source for monarch larvae and caterpillars, as well as nectar for migrating adults. One issue currently trending is the need to plant native milkweeds instead of the tropical species (Asclepias curassavica) that are more common in local landscaping. Tropical milkweed often harbors OE, or Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, which is a harmful protozoan parasite whose primary host is the monarch butterfly. Planting native varieties of milkweed then is critical to support and increase overall numbers in the threatened monarch population.
This grant was made possible by the Natural Resources Defense Council Green Gifts program.
On Monday, January 28th, Katy High School students Stone Garza, Nandita Deo, Andie Gunn and Brooklyn Garibay spoke at City Hall before Mayor Chuck Brawner and city council members Durran Dowdle, Janet Corte, Chris Harris, Frank O. Carroll, III, and James C. Mendez Jr. Students provided a status update and way-forward for the Tiger Prairie, while also calling the community to action; the Tiger Prairie Project would like to further engage the City of Katy by encouraging businesses and residents to incorporate native Texas plant species into local landscaping. Students urged the City of Katy to consider revising city ordinance 2284 to include a mandatory 50% native Texas species in all new landscape plans submitted by landowners for building permits (residential or business). Collectively, these 'pocket prairies'/native greenspaces can reduce the amount of water used for irrigation, while also increasing soil infiltration rates during flooding events. Native plants then, are an ideal, eco-friendly solution, aligned with Katy's conservation efforts and flooding mitigation plan.
From left to right: Kelly Knight, Stone Garza, Nandita Deo, Andie Gunn, Brooklyn Garibay and Dr. Rhonda Burrough.
Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) and the Houston Chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas (HNPAT) are teaming up to host a seed packing party at the January 23rd HNPAT monthly meeting. Learn about prairie plants and how to clean their seeds. Prairie plant seeds collected from the wild last year will be packed into envelopes to be distributed to KPC's Great Grow Out (KatyPrairie.org/GGO) participants and will be propagated at the KPC nursery in the coming year.
Information about the Great Growout will be available at the meeting. Seed packers are encouraged to take some seeds home and participate!
Come & eat, make some new friends, support KPC and HNPAT, and clean and pack some seeds! Bring garden gloves and pruners/scissors, if you have them.
For additional information or email, please contact Lan Shen at Lshen@katyprairie.org.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy & Houston Chapter - Native Prairies Association of TX
713-523-6135 x 4014 or 713-714-6763