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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Creating Light in Darkness

Prairie Notes #122
February 1, 2017

01) Creating Light in Darkness
02) Your FOTHNA Membership
03) Field Report - January
04) MM&WW HIke the HIlls Report
05) Brush Bash Report
06) Tandy Hills Pavilion Competition Report
07) Lone Star Legacy Park
08) SPECIAL January PrairieSky / StarParty
09) Citizen Prairie
10) Prairie Proverb

01) Creating Light in Darkness

Has there ever been a darker time for the natural world? Not in my lifetime do I recall so many forces lined up against Mother Nature and planet Earth. From misinformed climate skeptics to an out of touch State House to the, fill in the blank __________ White House, these and other forces and their unsustainable, irresponsible policies have converged to attack or threaten all I hold dear. "Keeping it like it was" is not on their agenda and YOU, dear reader, are the enemy.

Back in the day one had to burn billboards, chain oneself to a tree or march against Monsanto to get labeled an environmental radical. It's too easy, these days. If you love the natural world, believe in science, embrace clean energy, water and air or question the political/industrial status-quo, you are now an environmental radical. Times are dark, indeed, but there is light where we make it.

The rabble-rousing origins of Friends of Tandy Hills and its predecessors helped defend and save this glorious prairie remnant from the dumpers, dirt-bikers and frackers. We accepted the challenges of that dark era despite big odds. We persevered. Our biggest enemy now seems to be Privet, but climate change concerns is the bigger-picture problem that may test the resiliency of our prairie hills and our management skills unlike ever before.

So, what to do about the current situation occurring on a much bigger and darker scale? You can march in protest, give money to groups fighting the good fight, call your legislators, raise your kids to be monkey-wrenchers, the usual stuff. This month's Prairie Proverb (see #10 below) holds part of the answer and it fits my goal since the humble beginnings of FOTHNA.

When you love something you learn to appreciate it which leads to a desire to protect and defend it from harm, whatever it takes. When you have that and a bit of luck, inspiration and guidance often follow. The words of poet, Mary Oliver, still work for me: 

"Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."



02) Your FOTHNA Membership

Friends of Tandy Hills depends on your support to help improve YOUR park. Please renew your membership today. Your support helps fund outdoor education, conservation and restoration programs being done by Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area and our events such as Prairie Fest, BioBlitz, Brush Bash, Wild Food Walks, Trout Lily Walks, Kids on the Prairie, Wildflower Walks and PrairieSky / StarParty. 

Become a Friend HERE

Thanks to the following new and renewing 2017 members: Bert Tandy, Suzanne Tuttle, Native Plant Society of Texas, Sean Fitzgerald, Jim Marshall, Tommy & Linda Simmons, Greg & Mary Kay Hughes and Michael Smith

> > > FYI - Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Tandy Hills.

03) Field Report - January

Weather-wise, we had it all in January including rain, ice, snow, fog, tornadoes, very low and very high humidity, ending the month with spring-like temps in the 80's. Not a lot happening flora-wise except the amazing and unseen underground prep for spring by Ms. Mother Nature. Oh, except for the emergence of Trout Lily leaves, perhaps the earliest I've seen them. BTW---Sam Kieschnick, will lead the annual Trout Lily Walk on Saturday, February 18. Check back at website for time.

January 1, 2017: grey, damp and chilly but the clouds soon blew away revealing a baby-blue sky. 72 degrees the next day.

January 7, 2017: Foggy, dreamlike, mysterious. 12 degrees F.

January 10, 2017: Cold giving way to 80 degree day.


04) MMWW Hike the Hills Report

50-odd brave folks showed up to earn their Manly Men Wild Women credentials on a chilly, damp morning that soon gave way to baby blue sky. Heroes one and all!

Manly Men & Wild Women about to embark on a heroes journey.

A group of students from Nolan HS gathered privet berries along the hike for disposal.


05) Brush Bash Report

A diverse group of roughly 50 hard-working folks showed up at Tandy Hills on January 28, opening up views to the west not seen in more than 50 years. You must come by and see for yourself their amazing work. A tremendous amount of brush, trash and trees, blocking out the view west, and the prairie, were removed. We reclaimed a lot of prairie.

According to, Billy Roden, Assistant Field Operation Supervisor, PARD19 truckloads totalling 262 cubic yards of invasive vegetation were removed. I think you'll be impressed. Thanks to FW PARD staff, Michelle Villafranca, Billy Roden and their fabulous crew.  >>> See video of newly cleared area here:

Reclaimed prairie and prairie views.

FW-PARD did a bang-up job helping with the Bash, hauling away 19 truckloads of material.

The hard core Brush Bashers hung around for a photo-op.

Prairie Progress!

Yellow area represents reclaimed prairie.

06) Pavilion Competition Winners

The Tandy Hills Pavioion Design Competition done in partnership with American Institute of Architects-Fort Worth, received 20 submissions of interesting and striking diversity. Working blindly, without knowledge of the 20 submitting architects, a blue ribbon panel of judges, has selected the submission of, Dennehy Architects (and team), as the winner of the Tandy Hills competition. Second place was awarded to, Sturart Everett (and team), of Bennett Brenner Partners.

By coincidence, Dennehy designed the new boardwalk/pavilion for Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Paul Dennehy is also the current President of the statewide, Texas AIA.

First official public announcement of the Tandy Hills Pavilion Competition Award will be made at the AIA-FW awards ceremony on Feb. 18 at the Kimbell Art Museum. You can purchase tickets for that event here:

Relatedly, FOTHNA founding member, Jenny Conn, will be awarded a special Honorary Membership award from AIA-FW, at the ceremony in February.

Dennehy Architects & team

Sturart Everett & team (Bennett Benner Partners Architects)

07) Lone Star Legacy Park

Does Tandy Hills qualify to be a Lone Star Legacy Park? We shall soon find out. Friends of Tandy Hills in cooperation with FW-PARD researched the obscure 67 year history of Tandy Hills in order to complete the application. There's some nuggets in there I'll release later. Wish us luck!

08) SPECIAL January PrairieSky / StarParty

There will be a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on Friday, February 10. (Weather permitting) Starting at dark-thirty, members of the Fort Worth Astronomical Society will set up their telescopes for free public viewing of the celestial event. Moonrise is at 6:06pm. Max moon darkening at 6:44. Learn more about a penumbral lunar eclipse here:

09) Citizen Prairie

Citizen Science on the Prairie: A report by Heather Foote

Teacher conference sessions on prairie ecology and conservation partnerships are as rare as ancient prairie remnants. Enter Citizen Prairie, a group of five prairie advocates who spoke up for prairies at the 10th Annual Texas STEM Conference held at the InterContinental Hotel in Addison. FOTHNA and the Native Prairie Association of Texas sponsored the session.

Participants from across Texas left the 90-minute session with iNaturalist skills guided by Sam Kieschnick, Urban Wildlife Biologist with TPWD and a curator with iNaturalist. JoAnn Collins, NPAT Education Outreach Coordinator, led an activity demonstrating the depth of prairie plant roots. Pat Merkord, founder of NPAT, invited participants to attend the next Prairie Seekers Prairie Assessment and Mapping Program training. Jen Bailey, co-founder of the Great Seed Bomb and founder of the Pollinative Prairie on the UNT campus, led a discussion on collaborative partnerships with advice for starting native plant gardens on school grounds.

The Citizen Prairie team was recruited and coordinated by Heather Foote, Prairie Keepers Founder and FOTHNA Board member. She shared advice on using Citizen Science in a classroom setting. For free crowdsourced science supporting studies on topics from galaxies to ants, check out the Zooniverse and ScienceStarter.

Mr. Citizen Prairie if there ever was one: Sam Kieschnick evangelizing about iNaturalist to a crowd of nature lovers at Tandy Hills.

10) Prairie Proverb

“You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it.”

- G.K. Chesteron, (1874-1936), English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, biographer, and literary and art critic.


Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.