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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.

Evolution of a Newsletter & Its Author

Prairie Notes #130
October 1, 2017

01) Evolution of a Newsletter & Its Author
02) Field Report - September
03) Giving Day Report
04) FASH Grant Received
05) FW Weekly "Best of 2017" Award
06) Frost Bank "Photo of the Day"
07) Something Witchey This Way Cometh
08) Prairie Proverb


01) Evolution of a Newsletter & Its Author

What began as a protest against potential invasion of fracking operations at or near Tandy Hills in 2004 evolved into Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area (FOTHNA). A key vehicle for getting the word out to the public about threats to the land was this newsletter, Prairie Notes. In 2004, I submitted a Letter to the Editor of the FW Star Telegram. They headlined it, Don't make this an altar to Mammon, and published it in August. That was essentially, Prairie Notes #1. Subsequent letters to Mayor Mike Moncrief and others helped sharpen and define my message and get the ball rolling.

Over the years, the newsletter evolved as did I, with the initial goal of making people aware of Tandy Hills existence and then getting them to visit, fall in love with the place and help protect it. In the early days, an adversarial relationship existed between Friends of Tandy Hills and the City of Fort Worth. They wanted the revenue from natural gas under the prairie hills. We wanted to keep the land untouched by industrial development. This was the focus of Prairie Notes, as you can see from the first few issues, available at the website.

The stakes were high and the pressure to act before damage was done, was great. I used my words and, eventually, my photos to lure in the public and their support. Prairie Fest helped speed things up, drawing thousands of visitors. The City took notice. By 2011, FOTHNA retained non-profit status and improved relations with the City. An offical Support Organization Agreement with the City was established in 2011.

As fracking threats lessened, the focus of Prairie Notes became, and remains, more about celebrating and documenting Tandy Hills amazing biodiversity and raising funds for outdoor education and restoration programs. The main threat now are invasive species of another kind.

The newsletter continues to evolve, if nothing else, as a biodiversity record of Tandy Hills. Monthly Field Reports since 2004 help keep track of flora and fauna trends that may be useful in the long run. The author has evolved as well. The initial fracking crisis required a certain passion and persistence that has mellowed to an extent, allowing the beauty of the place, itself, to take center stage. 

Come on in and be part of the evolution!


NOTE: A visual presentation of the Evolution of a Newsletter & Its Author was recently delivered to the N. Cen. Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. You can view the entire presentaion on the About page on the website by clicking:

Evolution: Prairie Notes author at Tandy Hills in 1970....

...and at about the same spot in 2017.

02) Field Report - September

Signs 'O Fall are spreading across the Tandy Hills as of, September 30. I reccomend a visit during the Indian Summer weather predicted over the next few weeks. Here are a few examples of what you will see, from my September notebook.

September Sunset on the prairie.

Drummond's Onion, scattered among the grasses, are eye-catching fall flora. This shot is from early September....

...and this one from late September.

Goldenrod began budding out in early September, adding a bit of striking color to the fall landscape.

Giant Blue Sage is a sign of fall.

As previously noted, the grasses at Tandy Hills including, Little Bluestem, are having a stellar year.

Fall is a great time for plein air painting at Tandy Hills.

Tobacco Budworm Moth (Heliothis virescens), resting/feasting on Gayfeather.

Some Gayfeather plants grow in a candleabra-like shape.

Osage False Foxglove (Agalinis densiflora) with bright pink flowers is a strking sight on overcast days.

Indian Grass "arrows" are feathering out across the prairie.

With plenty of recent rain and sunshine, Maximilian Sunflowers, are ready for their close-up.

Watch my short video, Max Sunflowers on Parade, HERE:

On the fauna side of things, more than 60 yogi's descended on Tandy Hills on 9/03 for DFW Free Day of Yoga. It was a sight to behold.

Further afield, Don & Debora Young drew a crowd of more than 60 people to their presentaion to the Native Plant Society of Texas meeting.

03) Giving Day Report

23 generous people donated a total of, $1,725. to Friends of Tandy Hills during the annual event. We will stretch the dollars to help with perpetual land management including, trail maintenance, invasive species control and outdoor education programs. Hat's off to:

Marsha McLaughlin, Jim Marshall, Jen Schultes, Anonymous, Jill & Doug Black, Kimberly Villarreal, Margaret & Bill Shaw, Pam Fiederlin Campbell, Dick Schoech, Laura Penn, Linda Hannratty, Barb & Ray Regal, Phil Hennen, Greg & Mary Kay Hughes, Suzanne Tuttle, Jim & Patti Maness, Don Ferrier, Don Wheeler, Michelle Villafranca, Nelson Claytor & Denise Merkel, Pat & Peggy Brown, MIchelle Schneider and Jan Miller.

Thanks a mil!

04) FASH Grant Received

The FASH Foundation has been a major supporter of, Kids on the Prairie, since 2012. They recently came through again, for the seventh straight year, with a $2,000 grant. We are truly grateful to Linda Fash Bush for supporting our signature outdoor education program.

05) FW Weekly "Best of 2017" Award

WOW! Friends of Tandy Hills has been honored by FW Weekly several times over the years, but this new, Best of Culture, award is unexpected and extra sweet. Read it online or see pics below.

06) Frost Bank "Photo of the Day"

Frost Bank has a program called, Customer Photo of the Day, where they post selected photos depicting scenes of Texas on the Homepage of their website. Several years ago, in my continuing efforts to promote Tandy Hills, I submitted several of my photos from Tandy Hills. A couple of weeks ago I finnaly got the call that one would be published on September 21. My 2011 photo of Sideoats Grama, was only up for 24 hours but you can see the laptop and iPhone screenshots below or, at the Frost website:


07) Something Witchey This Way Cometh

This is an early heads-up announcement for a very SPECIAL two-fer treat coming to Tandy Hills on Saturday, November 11. On the same night as PrairieSky / StarParty, there will be a LIVE impromptu retelling of my Halloween story, The Legend of the Tandy Hills Witchey Tree. Gene and Peggy of, Twice Upon a Time Storytellers, long time favorites from past Prairie Fests, will spin the spooky yarn around a campfire near the trailhead. Mark your calendar!

Check out a little video of Gene & Peggy HERE:

Read the original story HERE:

08) Prairie Proverb

"Summer passes into autumn in some unimaginable point of time, like the turning of a leaf."

- Henry David Thoreau from, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Volume 1, 1849

A recently exploded seed pod of, Wand Milkweed.


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.