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5

State

th

ANNUAL

of THE

Prairie

CONFERENCE

May 29-31, 2014

Fort Worth, Texas

PRAIRIES IN A C HANGING WORLD

Stella Rowan Prairie by ScottWinterrowd

CONFERENCE AGENDA


Day 1 - Conference Field Experiences Thursday 29, 2014

Cost: Cost | $30 per participant Time: All Field Experiences from 10 am - 4 pm

Field Experience 1: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge Description: The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a 3,621 acre site that has most of North Central Texas’ representative habitats from the Fort Worth Prairie, Western Cross Timbers savanna & woods, wetlands & riparian corridors. Natural Resource staff manages this property for the benefit of wildlife and for public recreational opportunities. Learn about habitat management techniques applied on the property including prescribed fire, invasive species monitoring & removal, restoration projects, restoration greenhouse & seed collection, the bison herd & its management, public education & outreach. Focus: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge – focus: bison, fire, restoration, restoration greenhouse, education, park management, rare species (Yucca necopina), invasive species management, hayride. Leader: Michelle Villafranca

Field Experience 2: Tandy Hills Natural Area/Southwest + Blackland Preserve

Description: 10am - 12:30pm | Tandy Hills Natural Area Tandy Hills is a 160 acre park located in the hills adjacent to the Trinity River just 5 miles east of downtown Fort Worth. The park, managed by the City of Fort Worth Parks & Community Services Department protects remnant Fort - prairie. This historic prairie runs along I-35 and is defined by the Eastern and Western Cross Timbers. The Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area (FoTHNA) is a non-profit group that supports the park. Dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly for years to document plants, clear invading brush (Brush Bash), create prairie awareness within the community (PrairieFest), and educate generations of youth (Kids on the Prairie) about this special remnant prairie. Tandy Hills is especially known for its impressive spring wildflower display. On this field trip, you will meet the FoTHNA founders, who will lead you on a hike to explore the park, look at the abundant wildflower display, and share their experiences in how to organize special events that help spread the word about our prairies, how to organize volunteer events, and how to develop an outreach program for local elementary schools. Field trip lead: Kim Clemons/Don Young Lunch | 12:30pm - 1:30pm and then travel travel to Arlington to Southwest Nature Preserve) 2pm - 3pm | Southwest Nature Preserve Southwest Nature Preserve is a new preserve in far southwest Arlington with 58 acres of Cross Timbers woodlands and meadows, one 5-acre lake and 3 ponds, plus hilltop vistas of downtown Fort Worth from iron-rich sandstone outcrops. Although the site is predominantly characteristic of the eastern Cross Timbers, unusual east Texas plants such as Farkle-berry (Vaccinium arboretum) are found here as well as Texas endemic Glen Rose yucca (Yucca necopina). As the suburbs expanded, the site was platted for residential development but was acquired by the Trust for Public Land in 2005 and subsequently transferred to the City of Arlington. Phase I of development, adding entry amenities, a fishing boardwalk and parking lot was completed and the preserve dedicated in October 2013. Volunteers began working with APRD in 2013 on several restoration and monitoring projects; a master plan was completed in 2010. 3pm - 3:15pm (travel to Blackland Prairie Preserve in Arlington) Blackland Prairie Preserve (also known as New York Prairie) BPNP may only be 10 suburban acres, but it displays a great diversity of wildflowers and grasses charcteristic of the blackland prairies, once some of the richest soils in the world. We'll see native plants, butterflies, birds and more on this rare native prairie remnant in suburban southeast Arlington. Gilgai are evident over most of the site, indicating that it has never been plowed. As the city expanded, the site was slated for apartment development but was rescued by neighbors and other advocates & acquired by APRD in 1996. Mowing for hay maintained the site until the late 1990s, but trees and brush then began to encroach. Restoration efforts, a joint project of APRD and volunteers, have been underway since 2004 and a master plan is near completion. Field trip leader for Southwest & Blackland sites: Jan Miller


Day 1 - Conference Field Experiences - continued Thursday 29, 2014

Field Experience 3: Hillman Ranch + D Bar B Ranch Hillmont Ranch in Parker County, Texas This 120-acre property on the edge of suburban development is used as an equestrian ranch, with 40 acres of Cross Timbers forest and pocket prairie environments on the hilly terrain.  The prairie sites are established on both rocky limestone benches with tallgrass prairies and around sandy prairie seeps. The property contains outcrops of the Walnut Formation; the habitat for the endangered Comanche Peak prairie clover, although none has yet been observed on the property.  The ranch site is permanently preserved under a conservation easement with a local land trust.   McFarland Ranch in Aledo, Texas 2,260-acre ranch with Fort Worth prairie habitat. Historical family cattle ranch which has been operated on this large property by the McFarland family since the 1800’s when it was established as an even more extensive ranch.  One of their main goals is to preserve the western heritage upon which Fort Worth was founded.  The landowners have conducted native prairie restoration activity on the pastures and the ranch has been used to teach ranching skills to women.  The ranch has received numerous awards and recognition from the NRCS, the soil and water conservation district and other groups, along with being a host for many cattle ranching groups. The Fort Worth Council of World Affairs uses the ranch to show foreign visitors a “real Texas ranch.” Field trip lead: JR Taylor

Field Experience 4: Dallas and LLELA in Afternoon A two-part field experience focused on a prairie restoration site in Dallas and a trip to Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area. Stop 1: Dallas, TX 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Details coming soon. Stop 2: Lewisville, TX - Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area 12:30pm – 4pm The prairies of Texas were once as vast as the night sky. Today what remains are isolated stars. As progress moves forward more and more of these stars have shown their last bits of light and gone out forever. At LLELA we are doing what we can on our 2,000 acre natural area to reverse this trend. Using both standard and innovative restoration methods, we are capturing some of the last lights of the north Texas region and giving them a chance to continue shining. Come share the afternoon with us as we tour you through our native plant nursery where both common and rare plants can be found. We will take you out to our prairie restoration sites and give you a chance to see stars reigniting. You will leave knowing that the work all of us do to preserve what little we have left of the Texas prairies is not only worthwhile but vital to the human spirit. Field trip lead: Richard Freiheit


Day 1 - Reception Dinner - 6:30 pm Thursday 29, 2014

Location: To Be Held at Blue Mesa Grill Speaker: Quentin McGown – Tarrant County Judge & local Fort Worth historian


Day 2 - Fort Worth Botanical Garden Friday, May 30, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM + Dinner MAIN AUDITORIUM - ROOM 241

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM

Registration | Light Breakfast Available

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Opening Remarks Introductory remarks by Pat Merkord, Executive Director, Native Prairies Association of Texas

9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Keynote Address Speaker: Tony Burgess, PhD - Professor Emeritus - Texas Christian University Prairies for the People MORNING CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Main Auditorium PRARIE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Red Bud Hall Azalea Room

Red Bud Hall Camellia Room

CHALLENGES IN CONSERVATION & RESTORATION

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

10:10 AM - 11:00 AM

Ken Gee – Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture - The GRIP Program and Conserving Grassland Birds

John Lloyd Riley (NRCSKingsville) – Selecting Native Grasses for Improved Survival Under a Changing Global Climate

Ed Fair (Commons Ford) The Story Behind Austin’s Common Ford Prairie

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Rob Denkhaus (Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and TCU Adjunct Professor)-Bison Ecology & Prairie Interactions

Forrest Smith, PhD (Director, South Texas Natives) - After the Boom – Native Plant Restoration on Lands Impacted by Oil and Gas Exploration in Texas

BRIT Staff - The SEEDS Program and connecting children to prairies.

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

LUNCH


FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014

AFTERNOON CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Continued

Main Auditorium PRARIE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Red Bud Hall Azalea Room

Red Bud Hall Camellia Room

CHALLENGES IN CONSERVATION & RESTORATION

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Jim Giocomo, PhD (Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture) Grassland Bird Conservation

Russell Stevens Prescribed Burning in Oklahoma: Education, Equipping, and Training Landowners

Jaime Gonzalez (Katy Prairie Conservancy/Coastal Prairie Partnership) - Victorious!: How Social Media Helped Save the Lawther - Deer Park Prairie.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Conserving Pollinator Biodiversity (Pending)

Chris Reid (Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries) - Balancing Immediate conservation action with long-term, research-based planning

LLELA Connecting to youth through prairie restoration

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS IN MAIN AUDITORIUM

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

DINNER AT BOTANIC GARDENS AND AWARDS CEREMONY Speaker: Matt White – Author of Prairie Time and College Instructor


Day 3 - Fort Worth Botanical Garden Saturday May 31, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

MAIN AUDITORIUM - ROOM 241

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM

Registration | Light Breakfast Available

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Opening Remarks Jaime Gonzalez - Introductory Remarks

9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Keynote Address Speaker: Matt Wagner, PhD, Deputy Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Regional Efforts to Conserve Prairies - An Update

Main Auditorium PRARIE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Red Bud Hall Azalea Room

Red Bud Hall Camellia Room

CHALLENGES IN CONSERVATION & RESTORATION

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

10:10 AM - 11:00 AM

Kyle Brazil (Wildlife Habitat Federation) - Natives First Program for bobwhite quail conservation on virgin and restored grasslands

Sam Fuhlendorf (Oklahoma State University) The challenge of Invasive woody species management

Tandy Hills Staff or Volunteers PrairieFest: Connecting to the general public through festivals and education offerings.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Gene Miller (National Wild Turkey Federation) - Restoration of Early Successional Habitat to Benefit Wildlife, Hydrology, Sportsmen, and Citizens of Texas.

Aviva Glaser {National Wildlife Federation} - Updates of the new farm bill’s connections to prairies.

RJ Taylor/Pat Merkord (Connamara Conservancy and NPAT) - Connecting with private landowners through conservation easement agreements.

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

LUNCH


SATURDAY MAY 31, 2014

AFTERNOON CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Continued

Main Auditorium

Red Bud Hall Azalea Room

PRARIE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

CHALLENGES IN CONSERVATION & RESTORATION

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Dan Jones/Rusty Pliar (Texas A&M Forest Service) - Restoration and Conservation Management of Remnant Blackland Prairies in the Southwest Pineywoods Ecoregion of Texas

Bill Bartush and Cynthia Edwards {Gulf Coastal LLC} - The challenge and promise of mapping prairie remnants

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Ann Mayo (University of Texas Arlington PhD candidate) - Invertebrate Prairie Biodiversity: Comanche Harvester Ants.

Bill Neiman/George Cates ( Native American Seed) - The challenge of finding and using appropriate seeds for prairie restoration.

Main Auditorium WRAP-UP REMARKS AND LAST SPEAKER

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Jason Singhurst (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) - Closing Address

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Optional Field Trip to Botanical Research Institute of Texas


Post-Conference Field Experience Sunday, June 1, 2014 from 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Field Experience: Fort Worth Prairie Park Description: The effort to save this land is a local grassroots movement By drawing attention to the Fort Worth Prairie the land will be a regional refuge center for study and ecological health. You will see the mosaic nature and uncommon diversity of this unique prairie. Cost: Free Directions: Directions: Physical Address is close to: 10700 Old Granbury Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76036, north of FM 1187 (Due to road closure, the park can only be accessed from the north. There is no access from FM1187.)(Most GPS directions try to send you to the south access which is blocked by the tollway construction.) Participants will be given a Google Maps link.


Presenter Biographies Ed Fair is an avid and obsessed birder. He is involved in many birding activities including conducting Breeding Bird Surveys for the USGS, conducting Golden-cheeked Warbler surveys, participating in Christmas Bird Counts and leading numerous birding field trips throughout the Travis County area including field trips and prairie bird surveys at Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park. His interest in birding and affinity for this park led him to form the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization in 2009. This organization, with its partners, is involved in implementing the native prairie restoration project at Commons Ford. When he is not birding, worrying about the Commons Ford Prairie or irritating his grandchildren, he is practicing music law and teaching music business courses at the University of Texas at Austin.

Jim Giocomo is the Coordinator of the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture (OPJV), for the American Bird Conservancy. He coordinates a partnership of non-profit conservation organizations, Federal and state agencies, universities, and other interested individuals to implement science-based landscape-level bird conservation on 60 million acres in central Texas and Oklahoma, from Tulsa, Oklahoma to San Antonio, Texas including the Edwards Plateau, Cross Timbers, Blackland Prairie, and Post Oak Savannah regions. Jim earned a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Tennessee. His research focused on songbird nest monitoring in forest and grassland settings. Species monitored included Northern Bobwhite, Henslow’s Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Bachman’s Sparrows, Dickcissels, and Eastern Meadowlarks in areas used by US Army’s 101st Airborne Division for training at Fort Campbell Army Base. Jim has also worked for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Audubon Pennsylvania, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Jaime González is the Conservation Education Director for Katy Prairie Conservancy and is responsible for developing and implementing an annual schedule of activities and outreach programs to augment public access and awareness of the prairie. Mr. González's work also involves expanding collaborative efforts with other organizations and agencies around the issues of conservation and education. Lastly, he is the point person for grassland restoration efforts on several Katy Prairie preserves and at over a dozen Prairie Builder Schools and Parks locations throughout the Greater Houston area. Mr. González is also the Co-founder and President of the Coastal Prairie Partnership.

Karen C. Hall, PhD is an Applied Ecologist with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The bluebonnet is Karen Hall’s first recollection of a wildflower, from early life in San Antonio, Texas. However, most of her formative years were spent in the mountains of North Carolina, living with parents and grandparents in a house her grandfather designed. After high school, she was a musician, later gaining experience in the business world, both in the sales and manufacturing segments. Realizing how much she had learned about plants from her mother and grandmother, she later returned to college.


While completing her Ph.D., she also taught basic botany, environmental science, seminar and ethnobotany courses. Involving her students, other faculty, Cherokee people and garden staff in the process, she developed the Cherokee Worldview Garden within the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. In 2006, working for Clemson’s Cooperative Extension Service, she developed the South Carolina Master Naturalist program for the state and in 2009, she was also named the State Coordinator for the SC Master Gardener program. She is currently the local Applied Ecologist with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas where she is focused on research of the local landscape and outreach. Previous research interests include traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and how that knowledge is structured, managed and transferred to future generations. Her current research interests are viewed through the lens of ethnobotany and ethnoecology. She is particularly interested in how people find meaning and connections to nature and place.

Dan Jones is a wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, handling regulatory duties and providing technical guidance to landowners and managers. His master’s work at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX focused on avian fire ecology, and he has worked and conducted avian research in several biomes in the U.S., primarily in the Pineywoods of his native southeast Texas. Jones has been involved in promoting the conservation and restoration of declining east Texas grasslands since 2005.

John Lloyd - Reilly has been the manager for over 20 years at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, E. “Kika” de la Garza Plant Materials Center in Kingsville, Texas. The Center evaluates native plant materials as well as methods to restore degraded habitats, increase plant diversity, improve water quality and stabilize erosion. Under John’s leadership, the Center has released or co-released 24 different plant species to the commercial seed trade. The Center’s objectives are accomplished through its joint efforts with the Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M – Kingsville, Texas AgriLife Experiment Stations, and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of south Texas.

Ann Mayo - I was raised in central Virginia and was always an outdoor and nature enthusiast. I naturally studied biology in college focusing on ecology and animal behavior. After many twists and turns, I came to the University of Texas-Arlington to continue my studies and became interested in ants and in particular, the Comanche harvester ant found locally. I have spent the last 5 years tracking this ant and others in the Fort Worth Nature Center in Fort Worth and the Southwest Nature Preserve in Arlington, Texas. I am also part of the Ants of Texas research group, which has the ambitious aim of producing a complete species list of ants with their Texas distribution.

Quentin McGown - Quentin McGown is a fourth generation Fort Worthian with a lifelong interest in history. He is an attorney currently serving as General Counsel and Director of Gift Planning at Texas Wesleyan University, from which he graduated with degrees in theater and law. Prior to


accepting his current position, he served as the University’s Director of Alumni Relations. He served six years, three as chair, on the City of Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission, and he is a past chair of the Tarrant County Historical Commission. He wrote and hosted the "Historic Fort Worth" series on community cable television, and served on the city's 1999 sesquicentennial history committee. He is chair of the Fort Worth Timeline Project, a trustee of the North Fort Worth Historical Society and board member of both the Tarrant County Historical Society and the Outriders, the support organization for the Fort Worth Herd. He has served as business manager of Stage West and executive director of Texas Heritage, Inc., overseeing the restoration of Thistle Hill. Prior to returning to Wesleyan as a staff member, he owned a special events company that produced Chisholm Trail Round-Up in the Stockyards and First Night Fort Worth for the Arts Council. As general manager of the Texas Sesquicentennial Wagon Train, he traveled the state during the six-month, 3,000-mile trip around Texas in 1986. He and his wife, Laurie, are slowly restoring their 95-year-old downtown home.

Pat Merkord has been with the Native Prairies Association of Texas since 2006 as Secretary and President of the Board and now as Executive Director. The Native Prairies Association of Texas is a non-profit land trust that conserves, restores and educates about Texas prairies. Pat is an Austin native but currently lives in Conroe, Texas with her husband, Glenn. Her Bachelor of Science degree is from Texas A&M Kingsville and her Master’s degree in biology is from Texas State University. She was formerly a biology and chemistry teacher. She retired from teaching and started a biological consulting business, Bluestem Environmental Consultants, which has been operating since 2004. She enjoys birding, gardening with natives, and traveling around the state visiting with landowners, working to restore prairie habitats, and educating about Texas native prairies.

Gene T. Miller is a native of San Antonio, Texas and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with 37 years of experience in wildlife habitat management and restoration, having worked in several ecological regions spanning from the Mid-Atlantic Region to the Southern Great Plains of Texas. After graduation from Texas A&M University with Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences degree in May 1974, Gene was a commissioned as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps during the Viet Nam Era and served in the 10th Marine Artillery Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force attaining the final rank of Captain. After leaving active duty in June 1977, Gene began his professional wildlife career with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, working in 3 duty assignments there. After 8 ½ years, Gene returned home to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department beginning in the Pineywoods Region in January 1986, later promoting to the position of Technical Guidance Biologist in the Panhandle for advising private landowners on land and wildlife practices. He retired from TPWD in May 2010 to begin work as a Regional Biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation and is assigned to work on major landscape restoration projects in West Texas and Oklahoma. Gene is an avid sportsman and gardener. He and Marie, his wife of 35 years, reside in Canyon, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two daughters and 3 grandchildren that live nearby


Rusty Plair is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service near Hunstville, Texas. He has a degree in wildlife management from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. Rusty is a field biologist who is primarily involved with developing, planning, designing, and implementing habitat management projects on the Sam Houston National Forest.

Forrest Smith, PhD holds the position of Dan L. Duncan Endowed Director of the South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects of the Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. Forrest graduated from Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a degree in Range and Wildlife Management. He began work with the South Texas Natives Project in 2001. Forrest’s work has included assisting with the collection, evaluation, and development of 25 native plant seed sources. In 2008, Forrest and the STN staff began considerable efforts to develop and grow the South Texas Natives Project to serve restoration and native seed source needs associated with oil and gas exploration in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas, one of the largest and most intensive oil and gas developments in the state. South Texas Natives has enjoyed productive working relationships with 100’s of landowners impacted by Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas production, as well as a number of the largest oil and gas companies operating in Texas today.

Russell Stevens is currently a wildlife and range consultant at the Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He received his Master of Science in animal science, range and wildlife option from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas and his Bachelor of Science in biology from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. His work with landowners and managers includes wildlife and range management issues such as habitat improvement, prescribed fire, grazing management, plant identification and feral hog impacts on agriculture. Stevens joined the Noble Foundation in 1989. He has authored numerous articles and is a certified wildlife biologist by the Wildlife Society, a certified range management consultant by the Society for Range Management and a certified professional in rangeland management by the Society for Range Management. Stevens was raised n a cow-calf operation in south-central Oklahoma.


Presentation Abstracts Ed Fair THE STORY BEHIND THE COMMONS FORD PRAIRIE Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park is located just west of Austin within the Austin Parks and Recreation Department jurisdiction. The park is the site of the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Project being implemented on the 40 acre centerpiece of the park by the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization and its partners. The project is an extraordinary blend of efforts involving the community organization and its volunteers along with its many public and private partners and serves as a model for how such partnerships can work. The presentation will cover the unique nature of the project from its inception in 2009 to the present. The speaker will present a pictorial history of the project along with an in-depth discussion of the chronology focusing on aspects such as (1) research and information-gathering; (2) building the organization; (3) formation of partnerships; (4) restoration plan; (5) seed mix development; (6) publicity; (7) prairie bird and vegetation surveys; (8) community involvement and education efforts; and (9) results to date. Conclusion will emphasize many of the lessons learned and recommendations for similar efforts. Time will be reserved for questions from the audience. Jim Giocomo – THE GEOGRAPHY OF GRASSLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: HOW INTERNATIONAL BIRD CONSERVATION EFFORTS ARE LINKED TO ACTIONS IN YOUR BACKYARD With major changes in land-use, increasing human populations, and changing climate conditions, we recognize no single agency or organization can address these large scale changes alone. At the same time there is a need to understand how actions at the locaL level can fit into larger scale conservation efforts to ensure an overall positive influence on populations. Joint Ventures are partnerships that work to bring landscape-level considerations to local level conservation and to use local-level information to drive continental-scale policy. Jim will discuss how mapping technology, citizen-science projects like the Breeding Bird Survey and recent scientific research are used to link conservation actions in your local community to range-wide conservation of priority bird species.

Dan Jones and Rusty Pliar RESTORATION AND CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT OF REMNANT BLACKLAND PRAIRIES IN THE SOUTHWEST PINEYWOODS ECOREGION OF TEXAS Within the southern Pineywoods Ecoregion of eastern Texas, isolated and small calcareous prairies occur within the landscape matrix of pine and mixed pine-hardwood forest. These unique prairies are restricted to several Vertisol series derived from the Fleming geologic formation, and are not well documented. Typical of prairies in other regions of the U.S., these prairies have been greatly reduced in number and/or quality by land use practices including conversion to silviculture and agriculture, fire suppression, and urban development. Due to the naturally rare occurrence and continuing loss of examples, this prairie type is ranked as globally imperiled by Nature Serve. Based on previous limited investigations, characterization and restoration efforts were initiated on the Sam Houston National Forest/Wildlife Management Area (Montgomery, Walker, and


San Jacinto Counties) in 2004. The pilot phase of the project included identification of intact and potential sites based on soils data, characterization of community composition and frequency, and development of restoration techniques and a conservation management plan for Forest-wide implementation. Essential to determining a desired condition was establishing reference sites on minimally-disturbed examples. This included sites on the SHNFWMA as well as on private lands in the surrounding counties. Initial restoration work focused on removal of encroaching woody vegetation and implementing prescribed fire. Most sites were highly degraded due to over-grazing during past grazing allotments. To ensure ecological integrity, materials for plant restoration were collected only from existing project sites or those within surrounding counties with similar soil and plant communities. Interseeding into intact sod with minimal site preparation was utilized. Limited use of soil and plants from donor sites being lost to development was also used. This strategy has resulted in increased abundance and richness of characteristic species on project sites although encroachment by exotic King Ranch bluestem remains a problem and threat to sustainability. Additional sites have subsequently been included in this project which will ensure long-term conservation of this rare prairie type.

John Lloyd-Reilly SELECTING NATIVE GRASSES FOR IMPROVED SURVIVAL UNDER A CHANGING GLOBAL CLIMATE The rate of global warming and other associated climate changes such as increased evapotranspiration rates and drier moisture balances, which are anticipated over the next century, are expected to have significant impacts on south Texas vegetative communities. To be prepared for these changing conditions, the USDA-NRCS E. “Kika� de la Garza Plant Materials Center in Kingsville, Texas, has been developing various strategies for improving survivability and performance of south Texas seed mixes. We will discuss our current methods of evaluating and releasing native seed to south Texas commercial seed dealers. We will also discuss some of our methods and results for selecting seedlings following heat and drought treatments for improving seedling survival under hotter and drier conditions. Ann Mayo - Jill of All Trades: Ant Diversity and Versatility in the Cross Timbers Ecoregion Ann B. Mayo, PhD Candidate, University of Texas-Arlington Ants are diverse, abundant, and important members of all terrestrial habitats. They fulfill many different ecological roles including as habitat engineers, as predators and prey, and in many relationships among themselves and with other organisms. This diversity is well captured in the prairies of North Central Texas which form a unique mosaic with forest and which characterizes the Cross Timbers Ecoregion. The ants present in this region are diverse and many have specialized relationships. Such diversity suggests the possible use of ants as indicators of ecosystem health and function, and thus, monitoring ants may be useful in land management. Locally, the species present do not vary much among habitats suggesting versatility in habitat use despite specific nesting preferences. Such versatility is probably an advantage in this mosaic of habitats.

Gene T. Miller RESTORATION OF EARLY SUCCESSION HABITAT TO BENEFIT WILDLIFE, HYDROLOGY, SPORTSMEN AND CITIZENS IN TEXAS


The National Wild Turkey Federation is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and USDA Forest Service – National Forests & Grasslands in Texas to restore early succession habitat/native prairie plant communities within the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands Complex during 2014-2016 and beyond. Principal funding is being provided by TPWD Game Bird Stamp Fund dollars and is being augmented by USDA Forest Service funds. Benefits are expected to key grassland bird species, including northern bobwhites, a popular game species, as well as white-tailed deer, Rio Grande wild turkeys and Eastern wild turkeys. Additional public benefits will accrue to sportsmen, appreciative wildlife users, other recreationists, and general citizenry through improved hydrology and aesthetic beauty of restored oak woodland/savannah habitat in Wise and Fannin Counties on these public lands. This landscape project is an example of logistical and financial collaboration that is often necessary between state, federal and non-governmental entities if habitat restoration is to occur on large public land acreage. Viewed in a larger context of the Oaks & Prairies Joint Venture region in Texas, this project fits into a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department quail focus area and relates to National Wild Turkey Federation’s Central Red River Focal Landscape that has been identified as a key area to work in as part of NWTF’s new national Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt initiative. Lastly, a monitoring and research component will be included in the overall project which is designed to be an open-ended collaboration between the partners and other willing collaborators.

Forrest Smith, PhD AFTER THE BOOM – NATIVE PLANT RESTORATION ON LANDS IMPACTED BY OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION IN TEXAS Oil and gas exploration and production are having significant impacts on native prairies, and native ecosystems throughout Texas. From the Eagle Ford Shale to the Permian Basin, to many points in between, many thousands of acres of native lands are being impacted. Impacts include direct disturbance and displacement of native plants indrilling areas, purposeful and accidental introduction of non-native plants and collateral impacts on surrounding and adjacent areas through new pipeline infrastructure and roads. Efforts to actively restore native plants after oil and gas exploration and pipeline construction will be increasingly important to sustaining native plants, wildlife and natural ecosystem function given the projected intensity and scale of future development in many areas of Texas. I will make the case for the need to work to actively restore both current and historic lands impacted by oil and gas production, and highlight results of our research related to discovering the best methods for common oil field and pipeline restoration scenarios, and discuss concerns over the use of, and availability of appropriate native plant seed sources needed in order to meet the large scale restoration needs associated with the current oil boom in Texas.

Russell Stevens PRESCRIBED BURNING IN OKLAHOMA: EDUCATING, TRAINING AND EQUIPPING LANDOWNERS This presentation will explain the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association and its efforts to get more fire on Oklahoma’s landscape by forming landowner associations throughout the state and providing them education, training, equipment and funding in order to safely and effectively use


fire. This grassroots effort will improve wildlife habitat and many other ecological services and mitigate the frequency and intensity of harmful wildfires. Another effort to be discussed is the Alliance of Prescribed Burn Associations which was started in an attempt to accomplish the same outcomes over a larger region of the U.S.

John Lloyd-Reilly SELECTING NATIVE GRASSES FOR IMPROVED SURVIVAL UNDER A CHANGING GLOBAL CLIMATE The rate of global warming and other associated climate changes such as increased evapotranspiration rates and drier moisture balances, which are anticipated over the next century, are expected to have significant impacts on south Texas vegetative communities. To be prepared for these changing conditions, the USDA-NRCS E. “Kika� de la Garza Plant Materials Center in Kingsville, Texas, has been developing various strategies for improving survivability and performance of south Texas seed mixes. We will discuss our current methods of evaluating and releasing native seed to south Texas commercial seed dealers. We will also discuss some of our methods and results for selecting seedlings following heat and drought treatments for improving seedling survival under hotter and drier conditions.


2014 sop conference agenda march 26 update