Why Does KPC Protect Prairie Land?
Coastal prairie lands not only provide recreational opportunities for area residents and critical habitat for wildlife, they also play an important role in flood control, promote cleaner air and water, and serve as a local food production source. Prairie grasses absorb and hold floodwaters back from downstream – allowing them to release more slowly, native grassland soils store carbon which make our air cleaner, and wetlands filter water and help improve water quality.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat should all come from a healthy planet. KPC has protected over 20,000 acres on the Katy Prairie. The more land we protect on the Katy Prairie, the better for us all.
What Does Tallgrass Prairie and Wetlands Restoration Have to Do with Flooding?
Prairie lands buy us time. When restored coastal prairie holds water, it slows water traveling downstream. In catastrophic flooding events, this time is essential. It’s the time we need for water to drain, for the sun to come out, and for flood-prone residential and commercial areas to recover. Even if waters are only held back for a day or two, this makes an enormous difference. Since 1992, the Houston metropolitan area has lost up to 70% of its wetlands. The EPA estimates that one wetland acre can store between 1 and 1.5 million gallons of water. To date, KPC has restored more than 3,000 acres of wetlands on its preserve system – providing fabulous habitat for migratory waterfowl while also helping to hold back floodwaters.
A recent study by the Harris County Flood Control District noted that “it appears that one acre of prairie would increase the infiltration capacity of undeveloped land by 3.52 inches in a 100-year flood event.” The restoration of tallgrass prairie increases the amount of organic matter in the soil, which leads to deep root systems with increased water holding capacity and increased soil porosity. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that every 1% increase in soil organic matter results in the soil holding an additional 20,000 gallons of water per acre. We are working on restoring 200 acres of grasses and wildflowers on KPC’s Indiangrass Preserve, Williams Prairie, Rock Hollow Creek, and other preserves.