Field trips

THURSDAY FIELD TRIPS (2)

#T1 Site: Warren Ranch Preserve – Katy Prairie Conservancy Lands

Date: Thursday, October 13

Description: Warren Ranch is the largest remaining cattle ranch in Harris County. At nearly 6,500 acres, this sprawling preserve is home to several plant communities including coastal prairie remnants, oak mottes, riparian forest, farmland, and saline barrens – geologically fascinating areas that are home to an odd assortment of plants typically found on the coast, in west Texas, or even the barrens of the great north. Mid-October is a great time to explore Warren Ranch and field trip attendees are likely to be treated to fall-blooming tall-grasses and wildflowers as well as wetland plants if sufficient rains fall. In addition, participants will also have a wonderful opportunity to spot the many animals that call the ranch home including migratory birds that flock to our area at this time of the year.

Website: http://www.katyprairie.org

Distance: 30miles (45 min.) from hotel

Leader: Wes Newman, Jaime Gonzalez

Start time/Duration: 2:00pm (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 30

Transport Mode: Member Auto

 

#T2 Site: Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary (self-guided)

Date: Thursday, October 13

Description: The Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in West Houston is a 17.5 acre wooded sanctuary along Rummel Creek with a restored log cabin that is owned and managed by Houston Audubon as an urban wildlife sanctuary. In 1932, Edith Moore and her husband Jesse hand-constructed a log cabin on the banks of Rummel Creek using trees they harvested from the surrounding forest. In 1975, to ensure future generations would walk through her woods and learn about nature, Edith Moore willed 17-acres of land and her log cabin to Houston Audubon, on the condition it be maintained as a perpetual sanctuary. Rummel Creek runs through the sanctuary that is a popular birding destination.

Website:  www.houstonaudubon.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/883/MenuGroup/Sanctuaries2.htm

Distance: 7 miles (15 min.) from hotel

Leader: Self-guided

Start-time/Duration: Sanctuary is open from 7am to 7pm.

Level of Difficulty: Easy. Has some handicap accessibility on limited boardwalk system.

Transport Mode: Member auto

FRIDAY FIELD TRIPS (8)

#F2 Site: Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary (guided)

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: The Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in West Houston is a 17.5 acre wooded sanctuary along Rummel Creek with a restored log cabin that is owned and managed by Houston Audubon as an urban wildlife sanctuary. In 1932, Edith Moore and her husband Jesse hand-constructed a log cabin on the banks of Rummel Creek using trees they harvested from the surrounding forest. In 1975, to ensure future generations would walk through her woods and learn about nature, Edith Moore willed 17-acres of land and her log cabin to Houston Audubon, on the condition it be maintained as a perpetual sanctuary. Rummel Creek runs through the sanctuary that is a popular birding destination.

Website: www.houstonaudubon.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/883/MenuGroup/Sanctuaries2.htm

Distance: 7 miles (15 min.) from hotel

Leader: Don Gray, Lead Naturalist for the Audubon Docent Guild

Start-time/Duration: 1pm. (1-1.5 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy. Has some handicap accessibility on limited boardwalk system.

Max # Attendees: 24

Transport Mode: Member caravan

Note: This can also be a self-guided field trip for Thursday or Sunday.

#F3 Site: Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located approximately 60 miles west of Houston, Texas, is one of the largest remnants of coastal prairie habitat remaining in southeast Texas and home to one of the last populations of the critically endangered Attwater prairie- chicken, a ground-dwelling grouse of the coastal prairie ecosystem. Formerly occupying some 6 million acres of coastal prairie habitat, the Attwater prairie-chicken was once one of the most abundant resident birds of the Texas and Louisiana tall grass prairie ecosystem. Presently, less than 200,000 fragmented acres of coastal prairie habitat remain, leaving the birds scattered among three Texas counties. The refuge is one of a handful of national wildlife refuges managed specifically for an endangered species. However, recovery activities for this imperiled bird and management of it’s declining ecosystem go beyond the refuge’s boundaries. Much of the refuge consists of virgin prairie, never plowed or converted to croplands. However, you’ll find formerly cultivated fields on their way to becoming prairie too. The refuge staff first harvests native grass seeds from the virgin prairie in the fall, then distributes them in the old fields. Returning that field to a prairie takes years, but slowly the dedicated effort is paying off.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/attwater

Distance: 46 miles (1 hr.) from hotel

Leader: TBD

Start Time/Duration: 1:00pm (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 25

Transport Mode: Bus

#F4 Site: Columbia Bottomlands Units of the San Bernard NWR

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: Columbia Bottomlands hardwoods feature old growth forest and associated wetlands containing unique and endemic arboreal species such as Nuttall’s Oak, Cherrybark Oak, Bur Oak, Durand’s Oak, and Corkwood among others. This site offers a preview of pristine bottomland habitat. Boots and insect repellant are recommended when entering these forested wetlands.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/texasmidcoast/sanbernard.htm

Distance: 70 miles (1 hr. 15 min.) from hotel

Leader: Tom Adams

Start time/Duration:1:30pm, (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Max. # attendees: 25

Transport Mode: Mini-Bus

Note: Attendees should wear footwear that can get wet and bring insect repellant.

#F5 Site: Brazoria Palms of San Bernard NWR

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: This population of naturally occurring uniquely trunked Sabal Palmettos are currently of un-substantiated taxonomic origin and stand in a mesic bottomland forest sanctuary in southwestern Brazoria County, Texas. The Brazoria Palmettos in this tract of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge range in height up to 27 feet. The tallest has been estimated to be about 150 years old. Genetic tests are in progress to determine the lineage of these reproducing native palms found nowhere in the wild outside of Texas. Access is through dense flats of dwarf palmetto and poison ivy in the understory. Boots and insect repellant are also recommended.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/texasmidcoast/sanbernard.htm

Distance: 80 miles (1 hr. 30 min.) from hotel

Leader: Warren Pruess, Sandy Elsik

Start-time/Duration: 1:30pm, (1.5 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Moderate (no trails)

Max. # Attendees: 25

Transport Mode: Vans

Note: Attendees should wear footwear that can get wet and bring insect repellant.

#F6 Site: Armand Bayou Nature Center

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: Armand Bayou Nature Center is a 2,500-acre preserve in the center of a highly urbanized area between NASA/Johnson Space Center and the Bayport Industrial District. ABNC protects remnants of this region’s original ecosystems including wetlands, bottomland forest, and tall grass prairies. This environmentally significant area has been designated as one of only four Texas State Coastal Preserves and is one of the last bayous in the Houston area that is not channeled. In addition, ABNC is the recipient of the Lone Star Land Steward Award sponsored by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department recognizing excellence in wildlife habitat management and conservation on private lands

Website: http://www.abnc.org/

Distance: 48 miles (60 min.) from hotel

Leader: Mark Kramer, Stewardship Coordinator, ABNC

Start time/Duration: 1pm (2 hrs)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 24

Transport Mode: Bus

Note: Attendees should wear footwear that can get wet.

#F7 Site: Willow WaterHole Greenway (Harris County)

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: This site is a 60 acre park in southwest Houston where Harris County Flood Control District Environmental Services Div. has used native plant re-vegetation as part of their flood mitigation system. While still under construction, this site is an excellent example of a governmental entity re-creating native plant habitats to control storm-water run-off. Carolyn White will be presenting on this topic at a Saturday break-out session.

Distance: 30 miles (35-60 min.) from hotel dependent on traffic

Leader: Carolyn White & Peter Loos

Start time/Duration: 1pm (1.5 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 24

Transport Mode: Member Caravan

#F8 Site: Russ Pittman Park (City of Bellaire)

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: Russ Pitman Park is an urban oasis smack in the middle of the city of Bellaire with four acres of heavily wooded grounds, which make it a haven for birds and other animals. Originally a large estate owned by one family, its manor, the beautiful 1920′s-vintage Henshaw House, still stands as the park’s community outreach center, the Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center. The park includes an excellent example of a pocket prairie created with specimens and seeds collected from local coastal prairie locations and thus demonstrates the value of using prairie plants in a wildscapes garden setting. The pocket prairie was created and is maintained by volunteers.

Distance: 19 miles (30 min.) from hotel

Leader: Donald Verser, Pocket Prairie Docent

Start time/Duration: 1pm (1.5-2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 24

Transport Mode: Member Caravan

#F9 Site: Wildlife Habitat Federation Prairie Corridor (Colorado County)

Date: Friday, October 14

Description: The Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF) is a federation of private land-owners who own and synergistically manage a 7-mile corridor of prairie habitat running from the WW Ranch to the northern gate of Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR. The Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF) was formed in 2004 to bring together the best specialists and techniques for restoring and preserving wildlife in South Central Texas. WHF’s aim is to provide individuals and wildlife associations or cooperatives with the right facts on how, when and where to plan and implement wildlife habitat restoration programs. WHF’s specific objectives are 1) to restore and enhance contiguous tracts and corridors of native habitat in the Lower Colorado River Basin and adjacent areas; and 2) to provide educational opportunities to assist landowners in optimizing productive use of their resources while significantly enhancing habitat. WHF uses a combination of activities for restoring native grasses on the ranches. They are also assisting landowners representing some 12,000 acres in other areas though Habitat Action Team (HAT) strike forces. HATs provide on-ground equipment and technical assistance.

Website: http://whf-texas.org/

Distance: Approx. 50 miles (1 hr.) from hotel

Leader: Kathy Burris

Start time/Duration: 1pm (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Max # Attendees: 45

Transport Mode: Bus

SUNDAY FIELD TRIPS (7)

#S10 Site: Nash Prairie in Brazoria County

Date: Sunday, October 16

Description: Nash Prairie is over 300 acres of very special coastal tall grass prairie acquired by the Nature Conservancy of Texas in January, 2011. This prairie is a rare remnant of the coastal prairie that once covered over six million acres of Texas and Louisiana. In the fall of 2003, Dr. David Rosen, botanist and plant taxonomist with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service began his survey of the Nash Prairie. The Nash Prairie is a 300 acre remnant Coastal Tall Grass Prairie that is managed as a native hay meadow for the ranch. The topography of the Nash Prairie is intact. Most noticeable are the many pimple mounds, indicating that the Nash hay meadow has probably never been grazed or plowed. David’s survey of the vascular flora of the Nash Prairie has resulted in a checklist of almost 300 native species of plants and the list is growing.

Website: http://www.stmaryswestcolumbia.org/index_files/Page551.html

Distance: 70 miles (1 hr. 20 min.) from hotel

Leader: Susan Conaty, Dr. David Rosen

Start time/Duration: 10am (1.5 hrs)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 40

Transport Mode: Member Auto

#S11 Site: Mowotony Prairie

Date: Sunday, October 16

Description: Mowotony Prairie is a coastal prairie remnant, located just south of Brazos Bend State Park, was acquired by the Nature Conservancy of Texas in January, 2011. This 79 acre remnant hayfield is a window into our past. Recognized by botanists and environmentalists as one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable, Mowotony is brimming with rare, endemic native wildflowers, grasses and sedges that support a suite of birds, amphibians, insects, reptiles, and mammals. It is adjacent to the Columbia Bottomlands, and serves as a model for prairie restorationists.

Distance: 70 miles (1 hr. 20 min.)

Leader: TBD

Start time/Duration: 10am (1.5 hrs)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 40

Transport Mode: Member Auto

#S12 Site: Fleming Prairies – Sam Houston National Forest

Date: Sunday, October 16

Description: Fleming Prairies are a globally rare prairie type restricted to very western Louisiana and southeast Texas. These calcareous prairies follow a narrow band of geology called the Fleming Formation (see Map 1.), which starts west of Huntsville, Texas and follows an arc just south of Livingston and through Jasper to just below Toledo Bend Reservoir near Burkeville, Texas on the Texas and Louisiana state line. The soils are deep clays and these prairies are often on high uplands and the heads of creeks – often dissected by naturally eroded gullies and calcareous (‘calciphile’) hardwood forests. The flora of these calcareous clay soil prairies are generally strongly differentiated from that of almost all of the mostly sandy acidic soil communities of southeast Texas. Very few Texans have encountered this rare prairie type due to limited access as most sites are located on timber company lands. Fleming Prairie site is a great place to see prairie species such as Texas gramma, side oats gramma, compact prairie clover), purple prairie clover, purple coneflower, fox glove, prairie gentian, Maximilian sunflower marbleseed, false guara, Indian plantain, blazing star, and the Missouri coneflower – all atypical plant species of the Pineywoods.

Distance: 70 miles (1.5 hrs.) from hotel

Leader: Peter Loos

Start Time/Duration: 10:00am (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 30

Transport Mode: Member auto

#S13 Site: Peckerwood Gardens

Date: Sunday, October 16

Description: Peckerwood Garden is an outstanding repository of rare and unusual plants from the United States, Mexico, and Asia; and exhibits a unique collection of folk art from Mexico. Balancing artistic expression and scientific discovery, it fosters educational and scientific programs, and encourages greater knowledge and appreciation of horticulture. The Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation was established to preserve existing collections; support continued plant explorations and trials; and develop, maintain and preserve the land and facilities of Peckerwood Garden. There are many ways to describe Peckerwood Garden: it is a collection of more than 3,000 plants including many rarities; it is a conservation garden containing examples of numerous threatened species, many of which are no longer found in the wild; it is a laboratory garden testing a wide range of “new” plants and Mexican discoveries.

Website: www.peckerwoodgarden.org

Distance: 43 miles (55 min) from hotel

Leader: TBD

Start time/Duration: 1pm or 3pm (1.5 hrs)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Transport Mode: Member auto

Note: $10 fee per person required. October 16 is an “Open Day” with regular tour scheduled for 1pm and 3pm. No reservation is required.

Site #S14: Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center
Date: Sunday, October 16
Description: Only 18 miles from downtown Houston, a 400-acre coastal prairie, including 20 “prairie pothole” ponds, is being restored to demonstrate what was once the predominate landscape in this area. Texas Coastal Watershed Program staff and volunteers collect, propagate, and plant more than 30 species of native wetland plants appropriate to the site. Concurrently, prairie restoration is being done by the Texas Master Naturalists. Attendees can also walk a 1 mile wooded trail through a series of former fish hatchery ponds, and see varying environments from American lotus-bedecked ponds to emerging forest. A new 65′ accessible observation tower provides an overview of the prairie, woodlands, and Sheldon Lake reservoir, with downtown Houston visible on the horizon.
Website – Park site :   http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/she ldon_lake/
Wetland restoration site: http://wetlandteam.ning.com/
Distance : 30 miles (45 min.) from hotel
Leader: Kelly Norrid or Diana Foss, TPWD

Start-time/Duration: 10am (2 hrs.)
Level of Difficulty: Easy/Moderate. The coastal prairie currently has no trails. There is an unpaved road which participants may walk, but the most direct route to the ponds is through the prairie. Sturdy shoes are recommended. The 1 mile wooded trail through the old hatchery ponds is rated Easy.

Max # Attendees: 20

Transport Mode: Member auto

Site #S15: Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens – Endangered Species Garden
Date: Sunday, October 16
Description: In 1974 Thelma and Charles sold Harris Count Precinct 4 their 14-acre homestead and gardens along Cypress Creek. Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens has grown to ~325 acres of east Texas piney woods and showcases the region’s largest collection of native and cultivated plants. In keeping with Thelma and Charles’ work to preserve native plant species, Mercer is one of 36 participating botanical institutions that comprise the national Center for Plant Conservation (CPC http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/ ). Several of the 24 rare native species that Mercer maintains for the CPC are displayed in Mercer’s Endangered Species Garden. Interpretive signage identify common Texas natives used to complement the rare native species on display. The Endangered Species Garden is certified by the North American Butterfly Association and as a Best of Backyard Habitat Demonstration Garden by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation. The Endangered Species Garden demonstrates the use of permanent water and food sources, composting and organic management methods for the benefit of wildlife. Prior to the tour, attendees are invited to meet in Mercer’s Visitor Center and attend an informative presentation about the rare native plants that Mercer maintains for the CPC.
Website:   http://www.hcp4.net/mercer/
Distance : 32 miles (40 min.) from hotel

Leader: Anita Tiller, Mercer Botanist
Start-time/Duration: 10am (2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 40
Transport Mode: Member auto

Site #S16: Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center & Peckinpaugh Preserve
Date: Sunday, October 16
Description: Peckinpaugh Preserve is a 25 acre bottomland hardwood area which has a thick understory containing a number of trees and plants similar to the east Texas Big Thicket. Therefore this area is often called “The Little Thicket”, as it is the western-most edge where the vegetation of the Big Thicket survives. The Preserve borders Spring Creek and provides habitat for a variety of native terrestrial and non-terrestrial species as well as stop-over habitat for migrating waterfowl. The tract has a high diversity of native tree species including Black Gum, Hercules Club, and a notable Magnolia specimen.
Website:   http://www.springcreekgreenway.org/naturecenter.htm.
Distance : 36 miles (45 min.)

Leader: Teri MacArthur, Manager of Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center
Start-time/Duration: 10am (1.5-2 hrs.)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Max # Attendees: 30
Transport Mode: Member auto

#S2 Site: Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary (self-guided)

Date: Sunday, October 16

Description: The Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in West Houston is a 17.5 acre wooded sanctuary along Rummel Creek with a restored log cabin that is owned and managed by Houston Audubon as an urban wildlife sanctuary. In 1932, Edith Moore and her husband Jesse hand-constructed a log cabin on the banks of Rummel Creek using trees they harvested from the surrounding forest. In 1975, to ensure future generations would walk through her woods and learn about nature, Edith Moore willed 17-acres of land and her log cabin to Houston Audubon, on the condition it be maintained as a perpetual sanctuary. Rummel Creek runs through the sanctuary that is a popular birding destination.

Website: www.houstonaudubon.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/883/MenuGroup/Sanctuaries2.htm

Distance: 7 miles (15 min.) from hotel

Leader: Self-guided

Start-time/Duration: Sanctuary is open from 7am to 7pm.

Level of Difficulty: Easy. Has some handicap accessibility on limited boardwalk system.

Transport Mode: Member auto

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, OR SUNDAY FIELD TRIPS (self-guided)

#TFS17 Constructed Demonstration Meadow at Houston Arboretum and Nature Center (self-guided)

Date:                    Friday, October 14          

Description:        The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (HANC) is a 155-acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary located on the western edge of Memorial Park.  It is managed by the HANC Board of Directors and staff under an agreement with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department. The Meadow at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is a constructed demonstration grassland habitat surrounded by hundreds of acres of loblolly pine-mixed hardwood forest. In the late 1970′s – after a multi-year drought similar to the one we are experiencing now – a stand of pines were killed by pine bark beetles. Since a soil survey of the area suggested that a natural Gulf Coast Prairie once existed here, a 4-acre area was subsequently cleared and excavated to create a demonstration meadow and pond. Plants endemic to area prairies were both seeded and transplanted. Thirty years later and the continued presence of pine-specific soil fungi and the absence of large grazers such as deer and buffalo make it necessary to maintain this constructed meadow by occasional mowing, reseeding and transplanting. Among the prairie plants we have established are sunflowers, liatris, bluestem grasses, asters, coreopsis, gaillardia, and basketflowers. Additionally, visitors can enjoy over 5 miles of nature trails, including forest, pond, wetland and meadow habitats.

Location:                            4501 Woodway Drive @ Loop 610 west, Houston, TX 77035

Distance:                            22 miles (25-50 min.)      

Leader:                Self-guided

Start time/Duration:       1:30pm (2 hrs) Afterwards, people may visit the rest of HANC on their own.              

Level of Difficulty:           Easy

Max # Attendees:            45

Transport Mode:             Member caravan