** 2015 Southern Plains & Prairie Conference a success! - video, awards & Glenn Merkord, photos, thanks
** Viewing platform completed, Workdays, Seed collecting dates, Status of Specific Use Permit application for Deer Park Prairie
** Houston toad talk video, Chuck Duplant photos
** HNPAT needs help.
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Above photo: Panel of Mary Anne Piacentini (Katy Prairie Conservancy), Brian Trusty (Audubon Texas), and Chuck Kowaleski (TPWD) discuss emerging trends in conservation finance at 2015 Southern Plains & Prairie Conference.
December 9, 2015:

Reminder: HNPAT annual Holiday Potluck -- Prairie Seed & Plant Swap -- Silent Auction is tonight Wednesday, 12/9! Specifics at our website:
The Prairie Conference at the Houston Zoo November 12-14, was a success! Many compliments were heard about the diversity and extremely high quality of the presentations. Those who missed the conference have an opportunity to view videos of the presentations on Youtube, thanks to Jaime Gonzalez who set up the video recording system and the volunteer videographers who recorded the sessions. Videos are at the Coastal Prairie Partnership youtube site; playlist for the conference are at this link.

The screen shots of the videos above and below illustrate the diversity of the talks:
Rice students of Dr. Cassidy Johnson presenting their data collected on native and invasive plants and pollinators from three, local urban prairie sites.

Chris talked about the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' several ongoing research and stewardship projects that are enhancing coastal prairie remnants on private lands.

Unfortunately a volunteer photographer was not requested, so only a few photos were taken at the Conference. Some are  are at HNPAT flickr site and those by Jo Ann Collins are here.

The Houston Zoo and Peter Riger were wonderful hosts! Peter was present during the entire conference and helped everything run smoothly. The Zoo generously donated a significant portion of the food costs. The Zoo's caterers provided excellent food.

The agenda (see below) for the Friday evening banquet, held in a tent near the African animals section, showed the awards presented and all the organizations that supported the Prairie Conference. (See article below about Glenn Merkord winning the Coastal Prairie Partnership's Dick Benoit Award.)

That night on the way out from the banquet tent to the exit, we were treated to the first day of Zoo Lights. The Zoo went all out decorating everything in colored lights. Several of us walking out together really oo'ed and ah'ed (photos in links above)
Below are photos from the final day, Saturday, November 14, of the conference at one of the four workshops - the Prairie Educator's Workshop at Deer Park Prairie presented by Jaime Gonzalez and Pat Merkord:

The conference could not have been possible without all the volunteers who tirelessly donated their time and energy. at this link are the thank you's expressed by Volunteer Coordinator Janis Terry and by one of the Conference Leaders, Jaime Gonzalez.

Coastal Prairie Partnership's 2015 Dick Benoit Upper Texas Coast Award was present to HNPAT's
Glenn Merkord

The Dick Benoit Upper Texas Coast Prairie Award is presented annually by the Coastal Prairie Partnership in recognition of an individual’s or an organization’s outstanding service to conservation of and/or education about the coastal prairie in the Greater Houston Region during the previous year. Recipients are nominated and voted on by local prairie community.

This year HNPAT's Glenn Merkord deservedly received the award. Glenn is one of the hardest working volunteers locally or otherwise.  The reason that Deer Park Prairie (DPP) functions is because of Glenn. He was responsible for adapting a design of the viewing platform for DPP's needs, for ordering the materials, and for supervising the building of it and ditto for the prairie garden. Pat Merkord, Executive Director of NPAT, sits at her computer and exercises her fingers writing grants and Glenn is the one actually out on the prairie carrying out the grants!

Glenn is the one who makes minor repairs to the house and if he cannot do it, he is the one who finds a repairman and is there when the repairman shows up. He is the one who contracted with the people who mowed the prairie. Glenn is there for almost all workdays and is there to oversee the Eagle Scout projects. 

However, Glenn is not only involved in Deer Park Prairie.  He also volunteers at Marysee Prairie (also of the coastal prairie) in East Texas near Kountze.  Glenn also collects seeds for the Prairie Seed Council and for Jaime's projects in greater Houston.  He gave a talk last year at HNPAT's meeting on seed collecting. Glenn (& Pat) are at almost all the HNPAT meetings and he brings the food and sets up the laptop & powerpoint projector.

Glenn also works at NPAT's other properties not on the coastal prairie, especially at NPAT's Maddin Prairie in West Texas. Hence, Glenn volunteers at prairies spanning the huge state of Texas!

From Glenn Merkord on November 11, 2015:
Viewing Platform is Complete!

Glenn Merkord wrote that on November 11, 2015​ and thanked all the volunteers ​"​for all your hard work!"

​Materials for the viewing platform was funded by a Texas Parks and Wildlife Horned Lizard License Plate Grant. Many volunteers helped build the platform. Read more at website blog.



Plans are to postpone the election of officers to the January, 2016 meeting. Between now and then, please volunteer to attend one or more chapter organizational meeting(s) and to fill an open board or committee chair/member position, and help us write the chapter bylaws.

We need a treasurer. I have talked to two people about the possibility of being president. Nothing is set, so anyone wanting to throw their name in for that, please email Thanks to Linda Knowles for agreeing to be Vice President again and Silvia Gederberg for agreeing to be Secretary.  We also need a program chair and members of the programs committee, publicity chair and members of that committee, membership chair and members of that committee. Among other duties, the membership chair needs to make sure that one person from the committee will attend the meeting, bring a sign-in sheet, and get the signed sheet to Silvia to enter into our database and to publicity chair to enter into the mailchimp list.

In the previous email, when listing our needs, I forgot to thank the non-board members who are currently volunteering for HNPAT and doing a wonderful job:
  • Janis Terry coordinates our Eagle Scout Projects
  • Mark Morgenstern is Prairie Plant Grower for HNPAT and donates many wonderful plants. Mark will be there tonight and will bring plants!
  • Judy Thomas who took care of the Deer Park Prairie house and yard for most of last year is also our booth coordinator.
  • We have some wonderful volunteers that come to Deer Park Prairie on the workdays and that help collect seeds at DPP
Many attendees of last month's meeting went away with Pat's beautiful photographs in lovely frames. This month, Lan will be bringing back Cheryl's glass plate for the silent auction.
No time to upload photos of Prairie Conference items that did not get taken and will be up for silent auction tonight.  T-shirts of this and last year's Prairie Conference will be sold - long sleeves $20; short sleeves $15.

The status of NPAT'S request for a Specific Use Permit (SUP) from city of Deer Park to allow education programs on the prairie for local ISD children is still pending. An SUP is needed because the house on the prairie and the prairie itself is zoned residential. Although NPAT as land and house owner can currently invite guests, supporters, and visiting scientists to the house and the prairie, regularly schedule school groups like the ones Savannah was hired by Bayou Land Conservancy to lead, could not take place. Also, the house cannot be a nature center, nor can it be used as an office.

Although on  September 14, the Deer Park Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend that City Council  grant the permit (blog), the Deer Park City Council in subsequent meetings on October 20 and November 17 postponed voting on the issue because they have concerns regarding parking, bus route, absence of bathroom conforming to ADA American with Disabilities Act standards, noise for the neighbors... (The maximum 30 children on a field trip should not make noise equivalent to the adjacent elementary school's recess period with many more children outside). Both NPAT and Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC) tried to address the city's concerns via written answers to the city's questions and presentations at the November 17 city council meeting, but failed to completely do so.

The good news is the city council did not vote to reject the permit, for had they done so, a new application cannot be filed for one year. A meeting has been scheduled with the Deer Park City Manager and BLC point person for this project, their new Communities Relation person Iris Gonzalez, NPAT's Executive Director Pat Merkord and others to discuss code requirements the house will face to become compliant with our building code, should the SUP be granted. 



The next workday at Deer Park Prairie (DPP) is THIS COMING SATURDAY,  Saturday, December 12, 2015, 8:00 a.m. to ?, 1222 E. Purdue Lane, 77536.
  • Starting at 8:00 a.m., Brad Baker will be doing his Eagle Scout Project and Glenn would like to have help with the chipper, mower, and chain saw - things that the boy scouts cannot do.
  • Around 2:30, we will be getting some heavy furniture donated by Hermann Conservancy. We need help to load the furniture into trailer at Hermann Park and then unload at DPP and move the furniture into the house.
There will NOT be a workday on Saturday, December 26.
January workdays are Wednesday, January 13 & Saturday, January 23.


3 Seed Collecting Days in December

For details, go to the blog
  • Friday, December 11 at Nash Prairie, 10 a.m. start
  • Sunday, December 13 at Deer Park Prairie, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Friday, December 18 at UH Coastal Center, 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Video: Horned Lizard to Harris County?

For those who missed the October 28 meeting of HNPAT (Houston – Native Prairies Association of Texas), where Cassidy Johnson & Jaime Gonzalez talked about bringing the horned lizard back to the Katy Prairie, a video of the presentation was sent by Jaime Gonzalez:  Here you go!
Chuck Duplant uploaded some wonderful photos toward the end of October. Check them out and the rest of his photos taken at DPP assembled in this album.
Copyright © 2015 Houston Chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas, All rights reserved.

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