Texas Parks & Wildlife video: Saving prairie along the Gulf Coast

TexasParksWildlife | January 13, 2011 | The pristine coastal prairie landscape is disappearing at a rapid rate in Texas. Once covering millions of acres, less than a tenth of a percent of the original prairie remains. But there is a movement underway to turn things around.
Learn more here: coastalprairiepartnership
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New DVD: Secrets of the Chaparral features Texas native plants

richardmooreoutdoors | December 23, 2010 |Secrets of the Chaparral features the amazing uses of south Texas native plants as seen through the eyes of renowned naturalist Benito Trevino. This documentary captures a vast array of lore gleaned from centuries of living off the land and in danger of disappearing forever. Buy new DVD now on eBay by searching for “Secrets of the Chaparral.”
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Texas celebrates Native Plant Week, third week in October

KLRU | October 13, 2010 | See how native plants will make you wild with joy. Tom Spencer meets with Alice Nance, Austin’s Wildlife Conservation Program director, to celebrate Native Plant Week all year long.
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Tallowtree poses substantial threat to Gulf Coast states

Chinese tallowtree, Triadica sebifera  (Euphorbiales: Euphorbiaceae)While media attention is focused on BP oil invading U.S. shorelines, another insidious form of inundation is taking place as the Chinese Tallowtree (Sapium sebiferum) expands its range along waterways and upland sites in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Jim Miller, a Forest Service ecologist, describes the situation:

This [new research by Sonja Oswalt] is the first report to show how infestations are composed of thousands of small stems per acre that tightly grip lands in a near monoculture, excluding diversity with little potential for wood resource value. The crisis is worsened by the plant’s rapid occupation of the highly diverse wetland prairies and marshes in east Texas and Louisiana, which are special habitats for many rare plants and animals and often productive native grasslands.

Read more here.

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

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Southern native plant societies investigate coalition formation

An inaugural summit of native plant societies (represented by Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) has produced a list of issues for which committees will be seeking answers:

  1. defending and/or expanding protections for endangered plant species
  2. promoting land conservation
  3. preventing the introduction of new invasive plant species
  4. working across state lines to manage invasive species that are already present
  5. increasing the availability of native plants for use in habitat restoration projects and landscaping
  6. maintaining the genetic integrity of natural native plant populations
  7. identifying administrative or organizational efficiencies that should be shared among the states

Read more here.

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See what’s growing in dry Hill Country

It’s very difficult to stay inside and tend to work after watching percipient Priscilla padding about this productive plot.

Texas Master Naturalist Priscilla Stanley shows some of the native plants used in a demonstration garden at the Riverside Nature Center in Kerrville. Stanley said native plants work best in the Hill Country where rain can be uncommon.

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Texas and Colorado budgets suggest simply opting out of roadside and park maintenance

In two unrelated but symbolically connected news stories, governing bodies appear to be offering the public unpopular choices in order to meet budgetary constraints.

In Colorado, volunteers are being asked to assume the jobs of laid-off workers, and promoters of the concept think the idea will prove popular in other communities. Alternatively, if volunteers do not meet community needs, it is expected that citizens would then understand the need to raise taxes. The steepest cuts are being felt in parks and recreation: “City officials hope to negotiate a deal with a big-box retailer that would allow residents to get discounts on riding mowers for voluntarily cutting grass in the parks.”
Read more here.

In Texas, the state DOT has informed Dallas officials it will no longer fund maintenance of the Central Expressway medians and planter boxes as originally envisioned, offering four options:
1 Do nothing and remove dead vegetation for free
2 Charge the city $650,000 annually for maintenance of existing landscape scheme
3 Reduce irrigation and mowing, and replace existing vegetation with native grasses for $150,000 annual maintenance fee
4 Wait until $6 million become available for hardscaping with concrete and metal decoration
Read more here.

[Having volunteers chase around the expressway with wheelbarrows apparently was not an option put on the table.]

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