31st Annual Native Plant Society Of Texas Fall Symposium
Thursday, October 13 – Sunday, October 16, 2011
Omni Houston Hotel at Westside (13210 Katy Freeway and Eldridge Parkway)

“Habitat CPR: Creating, Preserving, and Restoring Native Habitats in a Changing World” featuring the Coastal Prairies and Marshes of Texas

Not so long ago in a land not very far away, red wolves hunted on prairies ablaze with coastal gay-feather and thousands of whooping cranes returned to winter on the Gulf Coast. Choruses of Houston toads resonated through the humid summer nights and the sound of red-cockaded woodpeckers hunting for insects echoed throughout the longleaf pine forest. The booming ground of the Attwater’s greater prairie-chicken was filled with males trying to attract a mate. The high-pitched chirps of swallow-tailed kites alerted the smallest of the marsh residents to take cover or risk becoming dinner.

Today, more than 4 million people inhabit these areas, pushing these animals and their habitats to the edge of extinction. While it may be more fashionable to campaign to ‘save the whooping cranes’, the truth is that if we do not ‘save the whooping crane habitat’, they will have no place to bring their fledgling young for the winter. Although the survival of some species may appear to be more important than others, make no mistake, each species plays a vital role in the intricate web of life and its removal can have a cascading effect on its habitat. From the flower that supplies pollen for the bee that makes our honey to the grass that feeds the cow that gives us milk, we are all part of a complicated, but well-balanced eco-system.

But aren’t we too late to repair the damage? No! What can I do? Learn habitat CPR!

Symposium 2011 will explore the various components of the Texas coastal prairies and Marshes and their significance as important eco-habitats. Gardeners will learn how to introduce these habitats and their native plants into the urban landscape as a way to supplement the natural environment, attract wildlife, and maintain a sustainable landscape. In a world of stresses such as climate change, urban sprawl, invasive plants, and general habitat destruction, Symposium 2011 will provide knowledge on how to re-establish prairie and marsh habitats where they have been compromised.

Symposium 2011 is open to anyone interested in the role that native habitats play in our daily lives and offers a tremendous opportunity to learn how to restore and preserve our state’s rich and diverse native plant communities.  In an effort to attract more students and educators, we will offer scholarships to qualified applicants.  Please contact us at symposium@npsot.org or (830) 997-9272 for more information.

Volunteers wishing to assist with Symposium 2011 are always welcome!  Please contact us at symposium@npsot.org or (830) 997-9272.

Special events at Symposium 2011 will include a photo contest for images of native plants and plant habitats, a dried native plant arrangement competition, a silent auction to raise money for scholarships, and exhibitors sharing native plant and conservation information.  Check out the links on the left side of this page for more information.

Speakers at Symposium 2011 will include:

  • Jaime Gonzalez (Community Education Manager, Katy Prairie Conservancy) will speak on Pocket Prairies and the use of native prairie plants in the urban landscape.
  • Mark Kramer (Stewardship Coordinator, Armand Bayou Nature Center) will tell the compelling story of the preservation of the land surrounding Middle Bayou and its transformation into a nature center.
  • Dr. Fred Smeins (Range Ecology Professor, Texas A&M University; leading expert on Texas Coastal Prairies and Marshes) will provide an Overview of Ecology of a Coastal Prairie.
  • Dr. John Jacob (Professor and Extension Specialist; Director, Texas Coastal Watershed Program; co-author of “Texas Coastal Wetlands Guidebook”) will provide an Overview of Ecology of Coastal Marshes.
  • Bill Neiman (Founder and President, Native American Seed) will discuss his ground-breaking work in commercial seed collection of prairie plants and his involvement in native prairie restoration projects.

Friday field trip locations will include:

  • Katy Prairie Conservancy lands
  • Brazoria County sites
  • Nash Prairie in Brazoria County
  • Dance Bayou Unit of Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
  • Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
  • Colorado County Prairie Corridor
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center

Authors are invited to submit research papers, general papers on topics of interest, and “How to” articles related to “Habitat CPR”.  Our diverse audience will include students, educators, professionals, conservationists, and gardeners who are interested in the research, conservation, and utilization of native plants and plant habitats of Texas.  Please read our Call for papers for more information.