Preserve Restoration

The restoration of prairie lands provides numerous benefits for the community.  KPC has restored 2,500 acres of wetlands and is now restoring and improving grasslands including KPC’s Indiangrass Preserve, Shrike Prairie, and other showcase prairies. In addition, stream mitigation projects and sustainable grazing are important parts of preserve restoration.

Photo © Michael Morton

Photo © Michael Morton

NATIVE GRASSLANDS RESTORATION

Native grasslands restoration involves the removal of non-native and invasive species and the reestablishment of native species that were found on the prairie centuries ago. Prairie grasses absorb and hold floodwaters back from downstream, and create much-needed habitat for the benefit of declining grassland birds that migrate through the prairie as well as for migratory butterflies, including the Monarch Butterfly.  KPC has the expertise to restore grasslands for maximum ecologic benefit.

KPC has identified multiple parcels of land that are perfect for restoration, as they will each be a prominent showcase for the region. This restoration work is especially critical as habitat becomes more and more imperiled because of natural or man-made threats.  KPC is confident that these parcels of land will quickly become vibrant examples of the success and beauty of prairie restoration, an area for all to enjoy not just today but for generations to come.

WETLANDS RESTORATION

Restoring and enhancing prairie depression wetlands consistent with the historic wetlands of the prairie is another important part of KPC’s restoration work. The prairie has been significantly altered over the last century from intensive agricultural practices, and water movement and storage capacity have been altered through the use of land leveling, ditches, dikes, and berms.  Sites in need of restoration lack the variety of species that once existed across the Katy Prairie as the prairie wetland system has been lost.  Upland areas between the depressional wetlands are restored to include areas of tallgrass prairie and prairie/pimple mounds, which were a common component of the Katy Prairie prior to European settlement.

Once restored, these wetlands filter water and improve water quality, and provide foraging, roosting, and nesting habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and upland species.  The prairie’s wetlands also play an important role in storm water absorption, which reduces flooding, pollutants, and sediment loads in watershed runoff. 

STREAMS

KPC continues the enhancement of more than 70,000 linear feet of stream on the Warren Ranch, which has resulted in a more sinuous stream, better water holding capacity, improved water quality, and enhanced native vegetation.

SUSTAINABLE GRAZING

Prior to European settlement, bison ranged over most of the Great Plains, including Texas. These great herds were constantly on the move to allow grazed areas to recover. Their hooves churned the soil leaving bare areas for annual forbs (weeds & wildflowers) and grasses to take hold. Forb-eating animals like deer and antelope and weed/seed-eaters like dove and quail were attracted to these areas.

KPC uses cattle as a tool to mimic the bison herds and to manipulate and enhance plant diversity for wildlife.  Healthy, properly managed grazing lands provide for natural filtering of runoff and recharging of aquifers for the water supply.  A sustainable grazing plan on KPC’s Warren Ranch is improving water quality, thereby ensuring that present and future generations have the water resources they need.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN RESTORATION

KPC engages volunteers to assist in prairie restoration efforts, through seed collection, plant propagation and plantings.

GREAT GROW OUT.  The Great Grow Out is a program designed to empower volunteers to grow plants in the comfort of their own home, as part of a civic or religiously-affiliated group, or as part of scouting. Volunteer growers are given packets of locally collected prairie seeds and asked to grow these plants in 4" pots until the roots emerge from the bottom of the pot. Plants are returned to the KPC Home Office or Indiangrass Preserve and KPC staff nurture the plants until they are ready to be planted in the field. The Great Grow Out also includes opportunities for volunteers to attend seed collecting trips and pack seeds at special seed packing parties. As many as 3,000 plants are grown each year by volunteers.

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS.  Putting Down Roots is a yearly public prairie planting performed at the Indiangrass Preserve. The first goal of this event is to engage our supporters and community members in helping KPC restore the Indiangrass Preserve. Each year volunteers add as many as 4,000 plants to the emerging prairie at Indiangrass Preserve. The event as has a strong education component, teaching volunteers about the deep roots that the prairie has in local culture, recreation, and in the economic development of the region.

NURSERY DAYS.  KPC hosts volunteer service days three times weekly at the Coastal Prairie Seed Nursery located at the Indiangrass Preserve. Volunteers work alongside KPC staff to raise thousands of prairie plant seedlings each year, in addition to weeding, performing nursery maintenance, and collecting new seeds.

CORPORATE WORKDAYS.  Corporate workdays are arranged in advance between KPC and community partners, such as corporations or other organizations. Corporate workdays are tailored to the individual needs of each community partner, but a typical day begins with volunteers arriving and checking in for a safety and orientation session.  KPC staff will divide volunteers up into groups, when appropriate, and distribute all equipment and supplies for the project.  Volunteers will proceed to the location where restoration efforts will take place, and KPC staff will lead all activities.  At the designated stop time, volunteers will return to the field office, turn in equipment, complete any necessary clean-up, and enjoy refreshments as a group. Corporate workdays build trust and camaraderie among team members by giving them a well-defined useful project with highly visible results.