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Sunday, June 2
 

2:30pm

Pre-Conference Field Trip (FULL)
Limited Capacity full

REQUIRES REGISTRATION (field trip is full)
Arriving to Houston early? Join us for a unique, pre-conference field trip to the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education (TICPRE) managed by the University of Houston. TICPRE, located on 900+ acres of threatened, coastal tallgrass prairie in various stages of restoration, supports a number of research and educational programs. Guided tours into the prairie will be provided, including a stop in an area containing an oyster shell dump that will be the focus of a NAPC conference workshop on restoration options. As an added bonus, sno-cones and popsicles will be provided during the tour!
The tour is limited to 40 participants. A shuttle to TICPRE will be provided; however, you need to indicate if you would like to take advantage of this transportation. The shuttle will leave UHCL at 1:45PM and return before the Sunday evening mixer begins at 5PM. Attendees on this tour may pick up their conference registration packets before or after the tour.

Speakers
BR

Beth Robertson

Prairie Advocate


Sunday June 2, 2019 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education Bus Participants will meet at UH Clear Lake

3:00pm

Conference Registration
Registration for conference attendees and set up of exhibitor materials.

Sunday June 2, 2019 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Atrium I

5:00pm

Social Mixer and Conference Welcome
A social mixer with light bites and refreshments. Includes a welcome address and conference orientation by Jaime González of The Nature Conservancy in Texas/Coastal Prairie Partnership.

Speakers
avatar for Jaime González

Jaime González

Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Jaime González is the inaugural Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. His work prioritizes building partnerships, designing and managing projects, and assisting communities and other organizations to help make Houston a more healthy, resilient... Read More →


Sunday June 2, 2019 5:00pm - 7:30pm
Atrium II, Bayou Building at UHCL
 
Monday, June 3
 

7:00am

Light breakfast provided
Monday June 3, 2019 7:00am - 8:30am
Atrium II

7:00am

8:00am

8:10am

Welcome by UHCL President Ira K. Blake Ph.D.
Speakers
DI

Dr. Ira K. Blake

President, University of Houston-Clear Lake


Monday June 3, 2019 8:10am - 8:15am
Bayou Theater

8:20am

Keynote Presentation: Recommitment to a Prairie Future
Limited Capacity seats available

Drawing from prairie conservation work in Missouri, and new evidence of the conservation significance of remnant prairies and other native grasslands, this opening keynote will demonstrate the urgent need to protect prairie for the benefit of all.

Speakers
avatar for Carol Davit

Carol Davit

Executive Director, The Missouri Prairie Foundation
Carol Davit is the executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 52-year-old conservation organization and land trust whose mission is to protect and restore prairie and other native grassland communities through acquisition, management, education, and research. The Missouri... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 8:20am - 9:10am
Bayou Theater

9:15am

Invited Speaker Presentation: John Jacob, PhD, Texas A&M University
The Upper Gulf Coast of Texas has an incredibly rich endowment of coastal prairie pothole remnants, well over 400,000 total acres with some individual tracts of never-plowed prairie approaching 70,000 acres,  this in spite of ever-expanding sprawl in the greater Houston region. But it is going quick.

I review the coastal prairie-pothole landscape, how it came to be, and the unique, short-range elevation diversity that characterizes the rich “chance melody” that this landscape is today.

I then address current threats to the system.  While a rich legacy has come down to us, we are about to lose at least 1000 square miles of the best of what is left of  forests, farmlands, and prairies. Prairies stand to lose the most as Houston’s growth is towards the prairies. Mitigation through the Clean Water Act has been almost completely ineffective, and is about to get worse.  

We cannot afford to lose what is left  -- not if we want to live on this coastal plain with any degree of ease. The multi-thousand-acre patches of unplowed prairie constitute a treasure of information we can barely understand.  These large patches are “arks” of wisdom that will enable us to draw on this knowledge in the future to craft nature-based solutions consistent with our place on earth.

Those of us in the front lines of landscape health must work to educate the public at large as well as decision makers on the role healthy watersheds play. We all must recognize that the state of the prairie is intimately tied to the fate of the city, and likewise that the health of the city is dependent on the state of the prairie.

We can no longer afford the luxury of working from our narrow silos. We must build coalitions with those working for a more walkable Houston. Walkability is a powerful sprawl antidote. Hard as it is, we will have to ally ourselves with those working for a much denser and more accessible Houston. Our voice alone will not stop the devastation of our watersheds. 

In the end, it is all about health.  The quest for healthy place transcends all silos. We need to take a bigger view of how healthy prairies to contribute to the health of the city –and vice versa.  We might still have a chance.

Speakers
DJ

Dr. John Jacob

Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service (Texas A&M University)


Monday June 3, 2019 9:15am - 9:40am
Bayou Theater

9:45am

Announcements & Break
Limited Capacity seats available

Monday June 3, 2019 9:45am - 10:00am
Bayou Theater

10:00am

Patch-burn Grazing without Fire
Limited Capacity seats available

The popularity of patch-burn grazing stems largely from the habitat heterogeneity created.  That heterogeneity includes a temporary “weedy recovery” phase as vegetation recovers from a season of intensive grazing.  However, patch-burn grazing typically relies on annual burning (of a portion of a prairie) and an absence of interior fencing.  Those two attributes can reduce the feasibility or attractiveness of patch-burn grazing to many land managers, especially ranchers.  Patch-burn grazing can also potentially put plant species (those most-favored by livestock) at risk of being grazed annually because they are selected regardless of whether they are in a recently-burned patch or not.  We are testing an “open gate rotational grazing system” which can produce similar habitat heterogeneity without relying on regular application of fire.  The system should also help protect plant species popular with livestock because not all of the prairie is exposed to grazing at the same time.  Any pasture with three or more paddocks can be grazed with this approach.  Livestock start in one paddock and then are allowed access to more and more paddocks during the season – without ever closing gates behind them.  The result is that some paddocks are grazed intensively all season while others are moderately or lightly grazed, and for only part of the season.  Paddocks grazed most intensively one year can be completely excluded from grazing the next, or until fully recovered.  Prescribed fire can still be incorporated, but is not required at any particular frequency.  

Speakers
avatar for Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer

Director of Science, TNC-Nebraska, The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska
Chris Helzer is The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science in Nebraska. His main role is toevaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration workand share those lessons with other ranchers, farmers, and other land managers. He also worksto raise... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

10:00am

The First Ten Years of Long-term Vegetation Monitoring at Broken Kettle Grasslands, Plymouth Co. Iowa
Limited Capacity seats available

The Nature Conservancy’s Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve occupies 3,300 acres (1335 ha) of Plymouth County, Iowa near the northern terminus of the Loess Hills.   In anticipation of observing the impact of bison and other management practices on ecosystem restoration, 30 long-term vegetation monitoring plots were established in August 2008.  Vascular plant species sampled within the plot quadrats were recorded, and plots ranked using a floristic quality index.  Plots were also digitally photographed.  In October 2008, 28 bison were released on 139 acres (56 ha) of the Preserve. By summer 2018, the herd had grown to 240 and had an expanded access to 1,900 acres (769 ha).  In August 2018 the 30 plots (25 open to bison grazing) were resurveyed.  Whereas the floristic quality indices based on total species encountered during 2008 and 2018 were similar, the 2018 individual plot indices were typically lower than those in 2008.  The occurrence of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) remained relatively unchanged, yet another invasive, crown vetch (Coronilla varia), exhibited a noteworthy increase.  Eight of the 25 original plots open to bison grazing contained evidence of grazing in 2018.  Comparison of plot photographs from 2008 and 2018 documented a reduction of red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and other woody species on open prairie concurrent with an expansion of deciduous forest from protected valleys.  

Speakers
BH

Brian Hazlett

Professor, Briar Cliff University
Brian T. Hazlett serves as Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Briar Cliff University (Sioux City, IA), where he’s been since 1992.  He has directed the Center for Prairie Studies since its inception in 2009 and was named Briar Cliff’s Distinguished Scholar in 2015... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1218

10:00am

An Assessment of Methods and Species for Restoring Native Coastal Prairie
Limited Capacity seats available

Along the upper Texas coast, The Nature Conservancy has undergone an effort to harvest an abundance and diversity of native plant seeds within the region. These seeds have been and are being planted on areas of the Texas City Prairie, primarily on loam - clay-loam soil sites formally dominated by deeprooted sedge (Cyperus entrerianus) and other non-native and native weedy vegetation. A pilot study revealed that planting rates of 20, 50, and 80 PLS/ ft2 result in similar vegetation communities. Early to mid-successional native species in the seed mix appears to benefit projects by creating community stability but also reduces species diversity. This reduction is hypothesized to be temporary and overcome by introducing management practices. Spring and fall plantings have both been consistently successful at producing diverse native plant communities. Post-planting weed management has been shown to be an important activity for project success and methods using herbicides and mechanical only have both been successful. While many methods have proven to be successful, each scenario presents different challenges that must be addressed to produce a native perennial vegetation community. 

Speakers
AT

Aaron Tjelmeland

The Nature Conservancy in Texas


Monday June 3, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

10:00am

Healing Rivers and Prairies: Active Restoration Efforts After Floods
Limited Capacity seats available

In 2015, the Blanco River experienced two back to back historical flood events that dramatically affected the landscape and people in this region. This presentation includes discussion regarding riparian function, historical site conditions, and active methods for preserving or enhancing private landscapes, with a case study demonstrating how the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would advocate for private property owners to deal with storm water and riparian restoration on their properties. We also provide a complete design drawing set with commonly found conditions along the Blanco River such as upland, residential, canopy, riparian buffers, and river access points.  The design guidelines are intended to give landowners options for dealing with rainwater runoff, plantings for areas adjacent to the Blanco (and rivers in general), and design suggestions so that landowners may successfully blend “natural” and “formal” areas. Every landowner won’t necessarily be able to implement all of the strategies, but they can look at each component (upland, residential, canopy, riparian buffer, river access) and choose those that make the most sense given their property type. Viewing each property as part of a larger riparian system strengthens the impact of each the suggested strategies, and more importantly, contributes to the overall health of Texas' rivers. 

Speakers
JH

John Hart Asher

LBJ Wildflower Center (Austin, TX)


Monday June 3, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1313

10:00am

Workshop: Pollinators in Peril
Limited Capacity seats available

The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the current conditions of pollinators in North America and discuss a call to action.

Moderators
PM

Pat Merkord

President, Native Prairie Association of Texas

Speakers
AB

Amber Bearb

Biologist, USFWS
LA

Larry Allain

Ecologist, Louisiana
KW

Karen Wright

Entomologist and Assistant Curator of Entomology, Texas A&M University
CC

Carol Clark

Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist, Native Plant Society of Texas


Monday June 3, 2019 10:00am - 11:30am
Room 1217

10:30am

Prairie Rising - A Case Study in Prairie Preservation, Restoration, and Management
Limited Capacity seats available

Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) is located near the western shore of Galveston Bay and manages one of the largest remnants of prairie in the region.  For over forty years ABNC has been a prairie pioneer in restoration and management.  As a small not-for-profit with a small staff, the management of 2500 acres requires creative solutions. The nature center incorporates traditional management tools including invasive species control, prescribed burning, mowing and vegetation monitoring.  A dedicated volunteer corps (Prairie Friday), is instrumental in all aspects of management.  A community-based restoration celebration; Prairie Pandemonium enlists Houstonians to dig in by planting, learning and partying for the prairie. ABNC is also expanding efforts to engage the next generation of the prairie liberation army through service learning projects.  Service learning projects enlist students to immerse themselves in cultivating and planting locally rare grasses and forbs.  A second student program produces an environmental film series (The Bayou City Eco-Almanac), helping to promote eco-literacy in the greater Houston area and of the importance and rare nature of coastal tallgrass prairies.  This talk will serve as an introduction to Tuesday’s BBQ/ABNC prairie experience.

Speakers
avatar for Mark Kramer

Mark Kramer

Conservation Director & Chief Naturalist, Armand Bayou Nature Center
Mark Kramer is a native of Pasadena Texas and has served as the Conservation Director & Chief Naturalist at Armand Bayou Nature Center since 1995.  He began exploring the bayou in his teens and has lived, worked and played here in some fashion since then.  His work duties include... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

10:30am

Flora and Ecology of Powderhorn Ranch, A Prairie Landscape Endemic to the Coastal Bend of Texas
Limited Capacity seats available

Powderhorn Ranch Wildlife Management Area (~17,337 acres) is an extensive prairie landscape situated on the western shore of east Matagorda Bay, east shoreline of Powderhorn Lake and adjacent community of Port O’ Connor, Texas.  Powderhorn Ranch is positioned on the ‘Ingleside Sandsheet’, a remnant of ancient barrier island or strandplain system that faced the coast during a previous period of high sea level (about 50,000 to 75,000 years ago).  A strandplain is a mainland shoreline built seaward by a series of accumulated sandy beach ridges.  The Ingleside Sandsheet is also a prime area for development as these sand ridges are slightly higher than the surrounding landscape.  As a result, very few large tracts of Ingleside Sandsheet habitat remain.  Powderhorn Ranch is one of the larger remaining undeveloped tracts.  Powderhorn Ranch contains more than 500 species of plants which include many Texas endemic plants (found nowhere else but Texas) and a few globally rare plants such as seaside beebalm (Monarda maritima) and threeflower broomweed (Thurovia triflora).  Vegetation in the Ingleside depressions (ponds) is extremely unique and concentrated primarily on this sandsheet.  Powderhorn Ranch contains over 100 of the Ingleside depressional wetlands. One globally rare endemic (Isoetes texana) and several disjunct plants are restricted to these ponds. Eight plant communities have been documented and several globally rare types will be discussed which include Shore Little Bluestem – Pan American Balsamscale – Brownseed Paspalum – Gulfdune Paspalum (Seaside beebalm) Prairie; Coastal Bend Texas Live Oak - Redbay Forest; and Ingleside Freshwater Depressions.

Speakers
JS

Jason Singhurst

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department


Monday June 3, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1218

10:30am

Wildlife Habitat Federation's Coastal Prairie Restorations
Limited Capacity seats available

The Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF) has become a primary source for not only technical expertise but also specialized equipment required for on-the-ground prairie habitat restorations. Adopting and sometimes modifying time-honored, Aldo Leopold-recommended techniques (which involve the hoof, match, plow, axe and gun) plus adopting a couple of additional ones (proper native seed selection and customized control of invasive species) have allowed WHF to optimize its impact on sites that vary in size from small one-acre pocket prairies to those that involve thousands of acres.

The positive impact of prairie-enhancing activities on the Texas Coastal Ecological Region and increased knowledge of their need has resulted in major growth in recent years in the areas being restored. Normally, this includes site visits, management plans and several seasonal activities prior to sowing native grass/forbs.

The more educated people become, especially new-to-the-land types, as to the positive impact of habitat recovery, the more they wish to be involved. When WHF was established fifteen years ago, the area under WHF's recovery plan was limited to 2 counties and less than 1,000 acres. Only a handful of landowners were involved. Fifteen years later WHF has impacted 30,000 acres with management and restoration efforts and is working on an additional 30,000 acres in 28 counties.

Leopold also stated that to conserve our natural resources we must "match plants with progress". Is this conceivable?


Speakers
JW

Jim Willis

Wildlife Habitat Federation
Background: Raised in agricultural community in NE Louisiana, where cotton was the leading income provider for all of my childhood.  We also raised corn, soybeans, sweet potatoes and cattle.      Formal Education: BS in Agri-Business at Louisiana Tech University--4-year letterman... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

10:30am

Can Prairies Save us from flooding? Hydrologic Results from a Multi-year Field Study in the Coastal Prairie
Limited Capacity filling up

The Harris County Flood Control District collected hydrologic data on 1) coastal prairie, 2) pasture land, and 3) developed land in the Katy Prairie region of NW Harris County using in situ monitoring equipment to compare the runoff reduction characteristics between the three land types. This presentation will discuss the background of how prairie came to be regarded as a flood reduction tool, the methodology and results from four years of collected data, and steps taken to improve and continue this research.

Speakers
SB

Stephen Benigno

Harris County Flood Control District


Monday June 3, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1313

11:00am

A Landowner's Experience with Blackland Prairie Restoration in Texas
Limited Capacity seats available

Restoration/easement goals for the 200-acre Kirchoff Family Farm included:
•Protect property in perpetuity
•Create awareness of significance of native prairies
•Use for education purposes
•Serve as model for other landowners.

Initial restoration attempts, starting in 2009, failed. Subsequently, NRCS and USFWS were contacted for restoration advice and support.

Over a three-year period (2011 – 2013) 170 acres were planted to prairie seed mixes with NRCS WHIP funding and advice.

Thirty acres remain preserved as woody riparian areas.

Four USFWS – PFW projects were completed:
•Two projects (Wildlife Guzzlers and Burrowing Owl Roost Sites) by Eagle Scout candidates
•Green Tree (Pollinator) Firebreak planted by 90 volunteers from Boy & Girl Scout Troops and 4-H Clubs from Wilson and surrounding counties
•Diversity Plots supported by a nursery constructed to grow difficult to find native plants.

The property was placed under a Conservation Easement with Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) in 2013.

Management practices include prescribed grazing, haying, and selective shredding. A TPWD plan for controlled burn tests has been approved to commence in 2019.

Battling invasive grasses and woody plants is challenging and ongoing.

Monarch butterfly and milk weed research projects are underway by UTSA and USFWS.

The public is engaged regularly, such as, through:
•Third Saturday Work Days
•Several Workshops annually led by restoration and wildlife experts
•Special tours for other landowners considering restoration
•Monthly San Antonio NPAT chapter meetings.

Property now operating at near financial break-even.

Speakers
DK

Don Kirchoff

Kirchoff Family Farm
Don Kirchoff left the family farm after high school, graduating from Texas Lutheran University (BS in math) and University of North Texas (MS in physics).He subsequently pursued a career in the oil and gas industry (Schlumberger), worked in the environmental industry (International... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

11:00am

Upstairs-Downstairs: How Belowground Microbes Alter Plant Traits and Plant-Insect Interactions Aboveground
Limited Capacity filling up

Prairie soils contain diverse and complex soil microbial communities yet the scale and scope of soil microbial effects on aboveground ecological communities remains relatively unknown. Soil microbes, including mutualistic soil fungi such as mycorrhizae, may improve plant performance by shuttling nutrients belowground into aboveground tissue. Little is known, however, about how mycorrhizal fungi alter prairie plant traits, insect performance, and plant reproduction. Here we present several lines of inquiry that demonstrate that the identity and diversity of soil microbes influence plants traits, insect performance, and plant reproductive strategy. In the first experiment, we test the influence on soil microbes on plant-insect interactions between the prairie forb Solidago altissima, and the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). Through no-choice feeding assays, we show that not only does the presence of mycorrhizal mutualists increase S. frugiperda growth rates (P = 0.002), but also that the presence of mycorrhizae and the history of host-plant herbivory interactively alter S. frugiperda growth rates (P = 0.01). In the second experiment, we show that S. altissima individuals inoculated with diverse mycorrhizae produce on average over 11,000 more seeds than individuals grown without mycorrhizae (P =0.028). Taken together, these results indicate that soil microbes, in particularly mycorrhizae, may have important influences both on higher trophic levels and on plant population dynamics across time. By exploring the role of soil microbiomes  on community and population dynamics, we hope to provide critical missing information to help land managers and restoration practitioners support native plant and insect populations.

Speakers
HL

Hannah Locke

University of Houston


Monday June 3, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1218

11:00am

Making a Good Prairie Better: Long-term Changes in Remnant Prairie Managed with Fire and Grazing
Limited Capacity seats available

In Texas, many remnant prairies were protected from conversion to cropland because they are used as hay meadows. Clymer Meadow was one such hay meadow until The Nature Conservancy bought it in 1986. Since then, management of the ~700 ha prairie has changed from annual haying to a more varied regime that includes grazing (cattle and, for a time, bison), prescribed fire in all seasons, and occasional haying and mowing. Since 1996, we have monitored plant diversity at Clymer Meadow in permanent plots. Our data show that species richness, especially of forbs, has increased as grass cover has declined. Average conservatism has not changed, but the number of specialist species increased, suggesting that their populations are expanding. Even though Clymer Meadow is a remnant prairie, vegetation composition has been changed by management. Understanding these changes is important when using remnant prairies as reference sites for restoration, because the condition of the reference site may influence restoration targets.

Speakers

Monday June 3, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

11:00am

Advanced Hydrologic Analysis of the Katy Prairie System
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
MG

Morgan Garner

Graduate Student, Rice University, SSPEED Center
PB

Phil Bedient

SSPEED Center at Rice University


Monday June 3, 2019 11:00am - 11:40am
Room 1313

11:30am

In-field Prairie Plantings as a Means to Increase Native Plant Diversity in an Agricultural Landscape
Limited Capacity filling up

Scientific Trials of Row-Crops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) is a collaborative effort between scientists, farmers, extension personnel, and educators to integrate prairie habitat into working agricultural fields. Strategically planted along the contour or at the edge-of-field, prairie strips are an effective conservation practice that yields disproportionate benefits relative to the amount of land taken out of crop production. Converting just 10% of a crop field to prairie has been shown to reduce soil and nitrogen loss in run-off from fields by 90% and 85%, respectively. Concurrently, prairie strips increase native plant, bird, and pollinator abundance on the landscape.  
Monitoring the vegetation community in prairie strips is important for assessing the success of the practice as well as informing future planting strategies. We examined the vegetation at 21 farms in the summer of 2018 that planted prairie strips in their field(s) between 2012 and 2016. Our preliminary results show that cover by prairie species is not related to factors such as stand age, and that diversity of the plant communities declines as sites get older. Monitoring the vegetation at these sites will continue to provide valuable information for both restoration ecologists and farmers adopting this conservation practice. Prairie strips appear to offer a viable approach for integrating agricultural production with conservation and diversifying the Midwestern landscape.


Speakers
LE

Lydia English

Iowa State University


Monday June 3, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

11:30am

Comparative Morphology of Competing Clonal Non-native Grass with Co-occurring Native Clonal Grass
Limited Capacity seats available

Perennial grasslands often demonstrate very remarkable resilience to severe natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Such resilience prominently depends on successful clonal tiller recruitment and establishment from belowground vegetative propagules. In northern Great Plains, non-native perennial Bromus inermis (smooth brome) has been rapidly invading many native prairie remnants, replacing native perennial species Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass), reducing biodiversity, and quality of habitats and ecosystem services.  A greenhouse experiment consisted of five treatments including single B. smithii, single P. smithii, pairwise mono of B. inermis, pairwise mono of P. smithii, and pairwise mixed of B. inermis and P. smithii with 30 replicates for each treatment was conducted to examine their performance in belowground bud production, bud outgrowth, tiller and rhizome recruitment, biomass, and growth strategy under intra- and interspecific competition.  Double-leaf stage seedlings of each species were transplanted into individual potting-soil filled pots based on designated treatments. Plants were harvested 12 weeks after the treatments had been initiated.  We found B. inermis outperformed when it competed with P. smithii than with itself in bud production, outgrowth, tiller recruitment and biomass.  Both species demonstrated the plasticity by altering growth strategy based upon whom they competed with. From intraspecific competition to interspecific competition, B. inermis changed from predominant phalanx to co-dominant phalanx and guerilla growth, while for P. smithii, switched from co-dominant phalanx and guerilla to phalanx predominant growth. The results suggest B. inermis has a competitive advantage to suppress P. smithii under interspecific competition could contribute to investment in aggressive foraging growth strategy. 

Speakers
LX

Lan Xu

University of South Dakota


Monday June 3, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1218

11:30am

Planning Considerations for Implementing Livestock Grazing Systems for Management of Grassland Habitats
Limited Capacity seats available

Developing livestock grazing systems for manipulation of grassland habitats involves similar core requirements, whether the habitat is upland or wetland. The grazing system must benefit to both the grassland manager and the livestock manager in order to make the partnership profitable and sustainable for both parties. The following factors need to be addressed:  Infrastructure – are there boundary and cross fences and are they in good repair? Is livestock water available? Is the site secure – can it be monitored and do gates lock? If infrastructure is lacking or needs repair, who is responsible for installation or repair – the landowner or the livestock producer? How much forage is available and when is it available? Are grazing deferment periods required, and are other areas available for livestock grazing during that time? How many months of grazing are available?  How many years might the agreement persist?  A several-year lease can give the producer additional economic stability. Is it worth the producer’s time and cost to transport livestock and settle them in a new pasture, especially if just a short grazing period is available, or if livestock need to be trucked to and from the site multiple times? How far away is the property from the producer’s farm? Are there poisonous plants on the property? All these questions must be answered to the satisfaction of both parties in order for a successful grazing partnership to be developed. This presentation will provide examples of how to achieve this partnership.

Speakers
MC

Marty Chaney

USDA-NRCS


Monday June 3, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

12:00pm

Lunch provided
Lunch provided!

Monday June 3, 2019 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Atrium II, Bayou Building at UHCL

1:00pm

Climate Change and the Fate of Southeast Texas Plant Communities
Limited Capacity filling up

Efforts have been made to regionalize climate models to predict future precipitation and temperature patterns under various greenhouse gas emission scenarios.  Precipitation changes are the most uncertain, but additional indices such as tree rings have been used to determine what intensity and duration of drought may be reasonable in the face of rising temperatures due to global warming.  Recent sand grain florescence studies have related episodes of intense aeolian deposition to mid-Holocene and other periods of likely higher drought intensity.  There has also been discussion of how plant biogeography in the SE U.S. may reflect drier periods within the Holocene.
The 2011 drought in central and eastern Texas was one of the most intense since record-keeping began.  Obvious changes occurred to dominant forest cover due to wildfire and water stress mortality.  These changes reflect those seen in plant communities during recent periods of natural climate change (less than 2,000ybp) as derived from pollen records, and also the changes in existing species distributions as related to climate and soil water availability.  Other changes in SE Texas plant communities due to rising temperatures are noted.
These patterns of change have been, and should more widely be used to assist in savanna and grassland management and restoration planning.

Speakers
AS

Andy Sipocz

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department


Monday June 3, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1313

1:00pm

The Effects of Bison Reintroduction on the Grassland Bird Community in Tallgrass prairie
Limited Capacity seats available

Tallgrass prairie has been converted to agriculture over the past century, making it one of the most threatened ecosystems globally. Agriculture conversion of prairie has severely fragmented the landscape and many grassland birds are now in decline and threatened with extirpation. Restoration projects have sought to increase the quality and size of prairie fragments, hypothetically increasing breeding habitat for grassland birds. Bison and other grazers are now being reintroduced to prairie restorations as a final step in a complete restoration to increase habitat heterogeneity. The goal of our study was to understand how tallgrass prairie restoration practices (recent bison reintroduction and prescribed fire) at Nachusa Grasslands influence the detection frequency of five grassland birds, Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Henslow’s Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, and Brown-headed Cowbird. We predicted these management techniques would impact species that were known to increase or decrease from other studies, Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Henslow’s Sparrow. We used remote sensing technology to record the communities in four plantings and two remnant sites (half with bison and half without) from 2016-2018. Bison and prescribed fire increased the detection of Grasshopper Sparrows. Henslow’s Sparrows were detected less often in areas burned. The detection of Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlarks, Brown-headed Cowbirds were not influenced by these management techniques. Long-term research is needed to help understand how these restoration practices are influencing this higher trophic level and how they can be altered to help these declining species.

Speakers
HH

Heather Herakovich

Northern Illinois University


Monday June 3, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1218

1:00pm

Texas Native Seeds Program: Development of Ecotypic Native Seeds Selections for Texas
Limited Capacity seats available

The Texas Natives Seeds Program (TNS) is a statewide collaborative initiative working to develop ecotypic native seed supply for use in large scale restoration and reclamation projects.  The primary focus of TNS is collecting native seed germplasm, identifying suitable restoration populations of common prairie and grassland species, and ultimately, increasing and licensing these seed selections for commercial seed production.   Seed source development research is done at numerous evaluation sites across Texas, organized in six project regions. Projects operated as part of TNS include the Coastal Prairie Native Seed Project, South Texas Natives, the Central Texas Native Seed Project, East Texas Natives, the West Texas Native Seed Project, and the Permian Basin-Panhandle Native Seed Project. TNS' work is primarily focused on enabling native plant restoration in association with large scale land impacts in Texas, especially energy sprawl, transportation, and private land based- wildlife habitat restoration, non-native pasture conversion, and prairie restoration on former croplands.  The program has had considerable impacts toward enabling the use of native plants on state highway rights of way, in the pipeline industry, and for cropland to prairie conversion.  Since 2001, TNS, and its original project, South Texas Natives, have commercialized 40 species of native grassland plants for restoration use.  Additional species are being developed in each project region, including a wide variety of native grasses, pollinator plants, and forbs and legumes.

Speakers
FS

Forrest Smith

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute


Monday June 3, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

1:00pm

Urban Prairies on the Edge
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
CS

Candace Savage

Wild About Saskatoon


Monday June 3, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

1:00pm

Restoration challenge - Returning WWII Camp Wallace Parking Lots to Prairie (1.15 hrs; 1-2:15PM)
Limited Capacity seats available

Some restoration projects are harder than others. In the southern US, oyster shell was widely used to construct parking lots and roads. Plants can grow up through the shell layer, but it changes the water holding properties and the chemical characteristics of the soil such that the plant community is no longer natural. Is there a cost effective way to restore areas with a foot or two thick layer of oyster shell? Using the University of Houston Coastal Center as an example, presenters will engage the audience in a discussion of possible restoration approaches.

Speakers
CP

Chelse Prather

Assistant Professor, University of Dayton, Ohio
Dr. Prather has worked on rainforest ecosystems, coastal dunes, and lichen communities on rocks.  Most recently, she has been working with insect communities in coastal tallgrass prairies since 2011.   In these prairies, she has been investigating the role micronutrients like sodium... Read More →
HL

Haille Leija

Habitat Restoration Manager, Galveston Bay Foundation
As the Habitat Restoration Manager at GBF, Ms. Leija oversees the Foundation's Oyster Shell Recycling Program and manages oyster reef restoration and living shoreline projects in an effort to restore and enhance native oyster reef and salt marsh habitat throughout Galveston Bay.
WW

Woody Woodrow

USFWS
Mr. Woodrow has been with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for eleven years and is currently based in its Mid-Coast Refuge Office.  Previously, he was with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for over fourteen years and served as the Director of the TPWD Coastal Conservation... Read More →


Monday June 3, 2019 1:00pm - 2:15pm
Room 1217

1:30pm

Rangeland Management for Pollinators in the Great Plains
Limited Capacity seats available

Well-managed rangelands are important to pollinators because they provide the habitat pollinators need to survive and support pollinator species not found elsewhere. Rangelands evolved with natural disturbance processes such as bison grazing and fire. Today, rangeland that is not managed with activities such as grazing, haying, prescribed fire and/or herbicide application, is likely to become dominated by invasive or woody species and accumulate large amounts of litter and duff that hinders plant growth and seed germination, particularly for wildflowers that serve as food sources for pollinators. However, management can also have negative effects on pollinators. We outline best management practices on rangelands for pollinator conservation and habitat management throughout the Great Plains and provide examples of implementation.

Speakers
RP

Rae Powers

Xerces Society


Monday June 3, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1218

1:30pm

Longleaf and Shortleaf Pine Understory Native Plant Development at the USDA NRCS East Texas Plant Materials Center
Limited Capacity seats available

The mission of the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) Plant Materials Program is to evaluate, select and release native plants to solve conservation problems.  The USDA NRCS East Texas Plant Materials Center (ETPMC) in Nacogdoches, Texas plays an active role in native plant development for eastern Texas and western Louisiana, also known as the Western Coastal Plain, Major Land Resource Area, 133B.  This region encompasses the western most expansion of the historic longleaf pine range.  Native plants released by the ETPMC for application in longleaf pine understory restoration plantings include Harrison Germplasm Florida paspalum (Paspalum floridanum), Cajun Sunrise Germplasm ashy sunflower (Helianthus mollis), ‘Nacogdoches’ eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), and most recently Coastal Plains Germplasm little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).  The ETPMC is also collaborating with the United States Forest Service and East Texas Natives to increase native plant development in the region.  The ETPMC is currently evaluating and selecting pinehill bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. divergens), pineywoods dropseed (Sporobolus junceus), and swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) ecotypes for longleaf pine ecosystem restoration efforts.  

Speakers
AS

Alan Shadow

USDA-NRCS


Monday June 3, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

1:30pm

A Look Back at 80+ Years of Restoration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum’s Curtis Prairie
Limited Capacity seats available

The UW-Madison Arboretum’s Curtis Prairie, named for renowned UW-Madison botanist John Curtis, is often regarded as the world’s oldest restored prairie. With restoration efforts commencing in 1935, Curtis Prairie has a long, rich history shaped by surrounding land-use change, an influx of disturbances, scientific research, and the restoration process itself, among many other things. This presentation will discuss how these different factors have shaped Curtis Prairie over the past 80+ years, what they have taught us, and how we might apply what we’ve learned to the management of the prairie’s future. 

Speakers

Monday June 3, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

1:30pm

Grassland Conservation and Carbon Markets
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
KK

Kirsten Kleimann

The Climate Trust
CC

Cindy Chiang

Climate Action Reserve
MW

Margaret Williams

American Carbon Registry-Winrock


Monday June 3, 2019 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Room 1313

2:00pm

Movement, Habitat Associations, and Distribution of Oklahoma's Wintering Longspurs
Limited Capacity seats available

Winter ecology of migratory grassland birds in Oklahoma is poorly understood, despite the region comprising a substantial portion of many species’ winter range. Longspurs, in particular, exemplify such cases and are of particular conservation concern after decades of global decline. Using a combination of field surveys, habitat assessments, and radio-telemetry we are developing winter occurrence and habitat suitability maps for Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus), Chestnut-collared Longspur (C. ornatus), and McCown’s Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii) relative to landscape features and other wintering bird species. We established walking line transects at multiple open-grassland sites throughout Oklahoma to determine occupancy, abundance, and habitat associations of longspurs and their co-occurring species. We conducted both local and landscape level habitat analysis for each species. Since Chestnut-collared Longspurs have shown substantial declines potentially attributable to winter habitat loss and/or mortality, we used radio telemetry to track this species at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge to record the daily movements and habitat use of marked individuals. This effort provided insights wintering social behavior, daily movements and within-season dispersal, winter home range size, and factors likely driving winter survival such as weather extremes and predation. 

Speakers
JM

John Muller

Oklahoma University


Monday June 3, 2019 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Room 1218

2:00pm

The Role of the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program in Increasing Plant Diversity in Grassland; Restoration
Limited Capacity seats available

The success of large-scale restoration depends on many variables, some of which are out of our control.  One important variable within our control is the use of tested and proven seed sources. The USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program was established to develop techniques for conservation planning and planting, to evaluate native plants for use throughout different regions addressing various resource concerns, and supply the commercial market with proven seed sources. Currently, the Plant Materials Program maintains hundreds of native seed sources to ensure the commercial industry can meet the restoration needs.

The importance of plant diversity in healthy ecosystems is critical for grassland restoration. This presentation will focus on the NRCS plant evaluation, selection and release process as well as highlight the benefits of increased plant diversity in grassland restoration.

Speakers
BC

Brandon Carr

USDA-NRCS


Monday June 3, 2019 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

2:00pm

Organic Horticultural Practices and How they Have Helped the Prairies at Memorial Park, Houston
Limited Capacity seats available

Organic Horticultural practices and how they have helped the prairies at Memorial Park. By using compost tea, park made compost, fungal inoculates, and root health techniques, Memorial Park has built up soil health. This soil health fosters and relies on the Soil Food Web, a diverse collection of life forms within the soil area around roots. This practice not only heals damaged soil and plants, but could potentially provide relief and management of several invasive plants. This presentation is an overview of Soil Biology and Memorial Park's efforts.

Speakers
DM

Daniel Millikin

Memorial Park Conservancy


Monday June 3, 2019 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

2:20pm

Grass and Sedge Diversity by Habitat Type in the Upper Texas Coastal Plain
Limited Capacity filling up

Speakers
AN

Andrew Newman

Resource Environmental Services, LLA


Monday June 3, 2019 2:20pm - 3:20pm
Room 1217

2:30pm

2:30pm

The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy: Determining the Calcium Limitation, Sodium stress, and Decline of Tawny Crazy ants along the Coast of Texas
Human activities are rearranging the distribution of elements and species across the globe, but the consequences of these alterations remain unknown. Coastal ecosystems are likely at risk to an increase in intensity and frequency of large tropical storms, which can deposit large amounts of calcium and sodium. Little is known, though, how additions of these micronutrients can affect the success of consumers, especially litter arthropods. To determine how changes in biogeochemistry affects arthropods, we utilized a factorial, fertilization experiment that manipulated macro- (N&P) and micronutrients (Ca, K, and Na; 16 treatments x 8 replicates = 128 plots), in 2016 and 2017, in large 30m x 30m plots in a coastal tallgrass prairie near Houston, TX. We collected litter arthropods using pitfall traps in 2017, and one-year post-fertilization in 2018. Based on results from 2017, we conducted feeding trials, that manipulated the ratio of Ca:Na (by 10%, 25%, and 40%) in food, on an invasive ant, Nylanderia fulva in 2018. In 2017, N. fulva was the dominant litter arthropod across all treatments, and their abundance was limited by Ca, but tends to be suppressed by Na. In 2018, however, these effects disappeared, and abundance of N. fulva dropped 98%, likely due to Hurricane Harvey. Preliminary lab results indicate that Na can reach toxic levels, suppressing colony size, while Ca ameliorates these toxic effects. These results indicate that changes in micronutrient availability may facilitate the success of an invasive species and gives insight as to how human activities are altering coastal ecosystems. 

Speakers
RR

Ryan Reihart

University of Dayton Ohio


Monday June 3, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Room 1218

2:30pm

Thirty Years of Restoration of Forb and Woody Species at Spicewood Ranch
Restoration at Spicewood Ranch has targeted degraded prairie and oak savanna communities.  Because of previous management and a high white-tailed deer population, restoration of palatable forb and woody browse species has been more difficult and slower than restoration of the grass component. The thirty-year strategy has been to 1- Develop a list (provided) of potential species ranked on palatability, 2- Test grow them from seed within deer exclosures, 3- Increase available quantities of local provenance seed within exclosures, 4- Test seed outside exclosures, 5-  Increase these species outside exclosures as soon as they can survive. In parallel, we are decreasing browse pressure by reducing deer population through hunting and providing more available browse with each sequential reintroduction.
Through this process, species such as Engelmann’s daisy (Engelmannia peristenia), standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), and plateau goldeneye (Viguiera dentata), which were not found at the start of restoration, were able to survive ten years into our work and are now flourishing in increasingly large quantities. Other species, such as wild foxglove (Penstemon cobaea), narrow-leaf coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), and bush-sunflower (Simsia calva), have been surviving and increasing within the last five years and will provide seed source for further increase.
For at least the past fifty years there had been virtually no successful survival of woody seedlings such as post oak or Mexican plum from remnants of these species.     There are now three- to four- year old seedlings surviving outside the deer exclosures. 

Speakers
DM

David Mahler

Envirosurvey


Monday June 3, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

3:00pm

Art Contest
Help us choose the best prairie art work from elementary, middle school, and high school students from across Houston!! We need your ballets to decide a winner!

Speakers
DB

Della Barbato

Director of Education, Native Prairies Association of Texas


Monday June 3, 2019 3:00pm - 5:00pm
2nd floor Library breezeway

3:00pm

Poster session
POSTER TITLES:
A Comparison Study of Bee Assemblages on Tallgrass Prairie Remnants, Reconstructions, and CP-42 Pollinator Habitat Plantings

ECOTYPIC SEED FOR RESTORATION EFFORTS IN THE COASTAL PRAIRIES REGION OF TEXAS

Ecosystem Restoration Tools

Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture Fall Bobwhite Population Monitoring and Grassland Restoration Efforts Through GRIP (Grassland Restoration Incentive Program)

Can prairie restoration make your drinking water cleaner?

Expansion, Research & Development of the Texas Native Seeds Program as the Permian Basin & Panhandle Native Seed Project

The Permian Basin & Panhandle Native Seed Project

HABITAT MANAGEMENT FOR A FEDERALLY THREATENED PLANT (Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidii) USING MANAGED LIVESTOCK GRAZING

The Central Texas Native Seed Project:Native Seed Development for the Central Rolling Red Prairies, Edwards Plateau, Cross Timbers, and Blackland Prairie regions of Texas

The South Texas Natives Project

Katy High School "Tiger" Prairie Project: Transforming a One Acre High School Campus Greenspace into a Texas Native Prairie

The West Texas Native Seed Project - Evaluation and Development of Native Seed Sources for West Texas

Linking grasshopper bite strength to leaf toughness in a cafeteria feeding experiment

Zoo Based Breeding and Rearing of Attwater’s Prairie Chickens: Lessons Learned and Looking to the Future

The Status of the Shinner’s sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis ssp. plantagineus) in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana

Preliminary Assessment: Recovery Potential of Degraded Coastal Prairie Rangeland in Southwest Louisiana

Native Seed Development for the Piney Woods and Oaks and Prairies region of Texas

Advancing Prairie Soils to their prime function

Monday June 3, 2019 3:00pm - 5:00pm
2nd floor Library breezeway

3:00pm

3:30pm

Seven stages for Banking Seeds of Native Texas Flora (1.5hrs; 3:30PM-5PM)
Limited Capacity filling up

Speakers
AT

Anita Tiller

Botanist, Mercer Botanic Gardens
MM

Minnette Marr

Conservation Program Manager, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
SC

Suzzanne Chapman

Botanical Collections Curator, Mercer Botanic Gardens


Monday June 3, 2019 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Room 1217

4:00pm

Break
Limited Capacity seats available

Monday June 3, 2019 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Atrium II

4:30pm

6:00pm

Banquet
Monday June 3, 2019 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Atrium II

7:30pm

Featured Presentation: Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Origin, History, and Future
Limited Capacity seats available

The native grasslands of the unglaciated eastern U.S. (“the South”) are among the biologically richest in the temperate/subtropical zones, and are largely ancient in origin. However, they have suffered major declines in extent and quality. I focus on the factors that most likely led to the origin and maintenance of southeastern grasslands. Only by understanding these factors can we maintain these grasslands today and into the future.

Speakers

Monday June 3, 2019 7:30pm - 8:15pm
Bayou Theater
 
Tuesday, June 4
 

7:30am

Barrier Island Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

REQUIRES REGISTRATION
This experience heads south to the Gulf of Mexico to visit unique coastal prairies. These island prairies are often referred to as strand prairies (linear strips between the dunes and marshes) and the dominant characteristic species include little bluestem, gulf dune paspalum, gulf coast muhly, red love grass, rosette grasses, thin paspalum, bitter panicum, gulf cordgrass, coastal sandbur, pinewoods fingergrass, fimbry’s, whitetop sedge, Indian blanket, seaside goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, camphorweed, wedgeleaf prairie clover, partridge pea, scarlet pea, American snoutbean, spotted beebalm, American bluehearts, prairie bluets, and spring ladies tresses orchids.
  • Potential sites: Follets Island Preserve, Galveston Island SP, Brazoria NWF

Tuesday June 4, 2019 7:30am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

7:30am

East Texas Prairies Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

REQUIRES REGISTRATION
This field trip will focus primarily on the lower Big Thicket area of East Texas where the Neches River and associated tributaries have dissected the landscape into a myriad of ecological niches. From deep sands associated with river deposition to cypress dominated back swamps, expect to encounter a large diversity of habitats. The primary grass dominated communities in this region are longleaf pine savannahs. On xeric sandhills, yucca, little bluestem, curly threeawn, splitbeard bluestem, white firewheel, and dune sunflower are dominated in the herbaceous layer. On moist flats, yellow-eyed grass, beaksedges, pipeworts, milkworts, yellow colicroot, and paspalums are typically encountered in seasonally saturated soils.
  • Potential sites: Candy Abshier WMA, Roy E. Larsen Sandy Lands Preserve, Big Thicket National Preserve, and Watson’s Rare Plant Preserve


Tuesday June 4, 2019 7:30am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

8:00am

Clear Lake Area Prairies Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

REQUIRES REGISTRATION
This field trip will center around the prairies located along the urban/nature interface near the conference. This trip will be geared towards easily accessible locations such as local nature preserves and education centers. Potential prairies include Deer Park Prairie, Armand Bayou Nature Center, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Space Center Drive Park, and San Jacinto Battlefield. These prairies are typified by little bluestem, gulf muhly, yellow Indiangrass, brownseed paspalum, big bluestem, Texas coneflower, Lindheimer's beeblossom, prairie blazingstar, slender gayfeather, multibloom hoarypea, beaksedges, nutrushes, and ovateleaf Indian plantain.

Tuesday June 4, 2019 8:00am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

8:00am

Southwestern Prairie Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

REQUIRES REGISTRATION
This field trip will take you out to some of the best pristine prairies found in the region. This trip will take you back in time and provide a real look at what an undisturbed native coastal tallgrass prairie looks like. These prairies are typified by little bluestem, gulf muhly, yellow Indiangrass, brownseed paspalum, big bluestem, Mead’s sedge, Texas coneflower, rattlesnake master, prairie parsley, slender rosinweed, Lindheimer's beeblossom, twisted goldenrod, prairie blazingstar, slender gayfeather, yellow puff, beaksedges, nutrushes, and ovateleaf Indian plantain.
  • Potential sites: Nash Prairie, Brazos Bend State Park

Tuesday June 4, 2019 8:00am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

8:00am

Urban Prairies of Houston Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

REQUIRES REGISTRATION
This field trip around the City of Houston will focus on the efforts of local organizations to rekindle the prairie within the urban fabric. In recent years, there has been a big push by local non-profit organizations, along with academic institutions and governmental agencies, to install “pocket prairies” across the city - an even save small remnants. Our urban prairie tour will visit the famous Lawther-Deer Park Prairie (platinum-level prairie remnant), the awarding winning MD Anderson Prairie in the Texas Medical Center, grassland restorations in the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, and a Powerline Right of Way Prairie. These sites provide recreational value to Houstonians while providing other stacked benefits such as water absorption and habitat for wildlife. Come see how Houston is integrating prairies into its urban landscape.

Tuesday June 4, 2019 8:00am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

8:00am

Western Prairies Field Trip (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

This field trip highlights the flatland prairies west of Houston, once home to herds of bison and flocks of prairie chickens but now under immense developmental pressure. You'll get a chance to visit both prairie remnants as well as innovative prairie restorations. The coastal prairie in this region occurs on alfisols (sandy) of the Lissie and Beaumont geologic formations and the dominant characteristic species include little bluestem, brownseed paspalum, slender bluestem, cylinder jointtail grass, littletooth sedge, Dichanthelium oligosanthes, Heller’s rosette grass, indiangrass, purple threeawn, hairy frimbry, barrens silky aster, and heath aster.
  • Potential sites: Katy Prairie Preserve, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday June 4, 2019 8:00am - 5:00pm
Bus leaves from UH-Clear Lake

5:30pm

Texas Barbecue Dinner with Featured Speaker Dr. Dwayne Estes of Southeast Grasslands Initiative (SGI) - (requires separate pre-registration)
Limited Capacity seats available

A genuine Texas barbecue dinner, Texas Swing and contemporary country music by the Will Carter Band, and a presentation by Dr. Dwayne Estes of the Southeast Grasslands Initiative.

Tuesday June 4, 2019 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Armand Bayou Nature Center 8500 Bay Area Blvd, Pasadena, TX 77507
 
Wednesday, June 5
 

7:00am

Light breakfast
Wednesday June 5, 2019 7:00am - 8:30am
Atrium II

7:00am

8:15am

Co-chair Welcome & Introduction
Limited Capacity seats available

Wednesday June 5, 2019 8:15am - 8:20am
Bayou Theater

8:20am

Featured Speaker: Optimism About Prairie Resilience and the Need to Engage the Public in Prairie Conservation
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
avatar for Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer

Director of Science, TNC-Nebraska, The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska
Chris Helzer is The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science in Nebraska. His main role is toevaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration workand share those lessons with other ranchers, farmers, and other land managers. He also worksto raise... Read More →


Wednesday June 5, 2019 8:20am - 8:55am
Bayou Theater

9:00am

The Ethnobotanical Use of Native Prairie Plants
Limited Capacity seats available




Speakers
DK

Dr. Kelly Kindscher

Kelly Kindscher, PhD, is a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Kansas. His research specialties are plant community ecology, conservation biology, restoration ecology, botany, and ethnobotany. He... Read More →


Wednesday June 5, 2019 9:00am - 9:25am
Bayou Theater

9:30am

Poster & Art Contest Awards
Limited Capacity seats available

Wednesday June 5, 2019 9:30am - 9:45am
Bayou Theater

9:45am

Break
Limited Capacity seats available

Wednesday June 5, 2019 9:45am - 10:00am
Atrium II

10:00am

Celebrating Urban Biodiversity
Limited Capacity seats available

Wild about Saskatoon’s NatureCity Festival is a week-long celebration of wild species and wild places in and around the mid-sized prairie city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (pop. 250,000.) Now entering its seventh year, the Festival brings together more than fifty organizations and businesses to provide a varied program of nature-oriented experiences for people of all ages.

The Festival is coordinated by an informal group of volunteers, about two dozen in all, known as Wild about Saskatoon. Each autumn, this core group chooses a theme and selects a keynote guest to headline the Festival the following spring. To date, our keynote speakers have included a prominent landscape architect, the biodiversity coordinator for a neighboring city, a psychiatrist who prescribes time in nature as a therapy for her patients, an advocate for nature playgrounds, an Indigenous Elder and activist, and a global proponent for protected areas. Our hope has been to reach beyond “the usual suspects” by approaching conservation from a variety of angles.

Most of the events on the Festival calendar are contributed by our growing number of partner organizations, which range from nature societies and land trusts to day cares and nature-related businesses. The Festival’s goals include:

• providing a showcase for conservation organizations in our community;

• showing nature-lovers that they are not alone and equipping them with information and ideas so they can speak and act with confidence;

• demonstrating that conservation is a municipal as well as a regional, national and global issue;

• having fun in the process. More info: www.wildaboutsaskatoon.org

Speakers
CS

Candace Savage

Wild About Saskatoon


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1218

10:00am

Restoring Prairies Using Livestock Grazing for Wildlife, Range Health, and Profit
Limited Capacity seats available

Prairies are essential ecological regions due to the role they play in the ecosystem, and it is imperative to maintain and improve them through holistic management.  The Dixon Water Foundation, through their ranches in the Cross Timbers and Trans-Pecos regions of Texas , are focused on restoring prairie lands by implementing well planned cattle grazing regimes.  One of the management techniques it employs on its Trans-Pecos ranches is high intensity, low frequency grazing.  This method promotes uniform utilization of pastures, adequate plant litter retention, and improved wildlife habitat.  With rotational grazing, the manager has more control on the livestock's use of an area.  It also allows adequate time for forage recovery and maintains residual plant material which increases soil health.  Three of the key wildlife classes which are frequent in far west Texas but have been experiencing population declines include quail, grassland songbirds, and pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana).  Numerous research projects have been conducted on the Dixon ranches which assist in monitoring, understanding, and increasing populations of these prairie species.  The Dixon Water Foundation has illustrated how livestock and wildlife can interact with each other to promote the habitat of one another.  Similarly, it has shown that managing for cattle does not mean causing habitat degradation for the other but can help improve it.  With proper management, livestock and prairie wildlife can coexist while restoring the overall health of the rangeland.

Speakers
CW

Casey Wade

Dixon Water Foundation


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

10:00am

Economic Impact of the Katy Prairie
Limited Capacity seats available

An economic valuation of Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) protected ranch land was conducted (1) to evaluate tangible ecological services of KPC land to the Greater Houston Area and (2) to create the economic foundations for a regional model for protection and restoration of more lands, and (3) to understand the potential role in flood damage reduction using restored grasslands. An overarching premise was tested: “Could a new compelling economic strategy protecting and restoring grasslands save on public expenditures for addressing infrastructure investments, such as for flood damage reduction?”
Ecological communities were mapped using satellite imagery and classified using geostatistical analytical techniques over the 101,000-acre study area. Ecosystem services were identified and valued for each of the mapped ecological communities on a US$/acre/year basis using the process of benefit transfer through application of pertinent literature-derived values. Ecological functions were categorized as services (work), products (consumables) and secondary services (cultural and other). Literature data and region-specific biophysical data were used to estimate stormwater infiltration rates under primary ecological communities. The ecosystem service values valued included: air quality, carbon sequestration, soil stability and health, flood remediation, water quality, water supply, regulate water flow, habitat, climate moderation, crop commodities, mitigation, hunting and fishing, recreation and tourism and property values. Non-hydrological related ecosystem services values were projected over 30 years, with a total value approximated $1.5 trillion, or $38 million annually, or~ $1495 to $1900 per acre. Coordinated hydrological analyses of flood reduction benefits performed by Rice University’s SSPEED Center were then considered and grasslands were found to have reduced runoff for mid-frequency storm events (i.e., 10, 25 and 50 yr storm events) but not for larger storms (i.e., 100 yr and greater). The reductions in stormwater runoff volumes contributed by the grasslands was valued at $45 million dollars; an estimate based on reduced reservoir storage required to manage the volume of water managed by the grasslands. A second model used measured infiltration and reduced runoff volumes, compared to abutting suburban developed lands, finding KPC lands provided $332 to $647 million dollars (2017 dollars) for 10-50-year events. When hydrological and non-hydrological ecosystem services and flood damage reduction benefits were combined at the scale of 101,000 acres, benefits ranged from $377 to 692 million or an annual per acre range from $5,627 to $8,341. These are conservative estimates not accounting for vegetation interception, improved landscape-scale infiltration, enhanced soil health under grassland restoration and improved grazing. Future work would focus on larger storm events (e.g. 550+ yr events such as Hurricane Harvey) to learn how grassland and wetland restoration can be integrated with traditional regional storm water management infrastructure. It was concluded that grassland conservation and restoration is a significant contributor to ecosystem services, including flood damage reduction in the greater Houston region.

Speakers

Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

10:00am

Native Neighborhoods: Helping Pollinators Across Fort Worth, Texas
Limited Capacity seats available

Pollinators are losing habitat at an alarming rate but cities can mitigate the loss by encouraging residents to plant native prairie pollinator plants at their home. Native Neighborhoods, a City of Fort Worth program, works to improve habitat one home at a time by providing five free native plants, a tree, and a water conservation kit to Fort Worth residents. Hosted at City community centers, our experts offer guidance on native plants and their pollinators, landscape design, planting, maintenance, and water conservation. Native Neighborhoods is a collaboration between the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, City of Fort Worth Forestry and the Water Department.

Speakers
MV

Michelle Villafranca

Fort Worth Nature Center


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am
Room 1313

10:30am

Photographing Prairies for Maximum Impact
This presentation is on how to photograph prairie ecosystems for maximum impact. In today’s visual world, better photos and videos are crucial to effective communications. The presentation will include tips and resources for creating better visual images for anyone involved in prairie advocacy, education, or research. Subjects will include lighting, composition, and photographic techniques and how they can be utilized together to create a bigger story. The presentation will also include tips for video and time-lapse photography and easy to use resources for combining video and stills into short clips for posting to social media.


Speakers
SF

Sean Fizgerald

Sean is a professional nature and conservation photographer based in Dallas, Texas, He has widely photographed various Great Plains prairie ecosystems and the Blackland Prairie in Texas in particular.  His prairie images have been printed in numerous magazines, including Texas Highways... Read More →


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1218

10:30am

Prairies in the 2018 Farm Bill,
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers

Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

10:30am

Establishing a Native Coastal Prairie Bioswale to Assess Runoff Reduction
Limited Capacity seats available

The Harris County Flood Control District is assessing and comparing the runoff reduction and water quality impacts of bioswales under two separate conditions 1) restored coastal prairie vegetation and 2) traditional turf grasses. In early 2018, coastal prairie vegetation was established in plots through seeding and transplanting following the removal of turf grasses. This presentation will discuss the steps taken to establish the native prairie vegetation and the ongoing hydrologic monitoring that will assess the water quality and runoff reduction potential of a restored coastal prairie habitat.

Speakers
SB

Stephen Benigno

Harris County Flood Control District


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

10:30am

Water Retention Landscapes
The hydrological cycle of our planet is being severely disturbed, from the tops of our watersheds to the river mouths feeding the oceans. This is leading to increased drought, desertification, flooding, water scarcity, collapse of ecosystem function, disease, crop loss, etc - which when occur, are called “natural” disasters. There is nothing natural about them, it is rather the direct result of previous mismanagement.

This feedback loop is not only preventable but reversible through improvement management and cooperation with natural systems. Decentralized water retention landscapes - returning the water to the earth that is being otherwise diverted by human development - provides a proven and effective method for enhancing the cycling of water in the landscape, reversing desertification, stabilizing climate change, and improving water availability and quality - all while increasing productivity and vitality for both humans and their ecosystems.

This presentation provides both the context and theory for the larger ecological issues at hand, as well as real world examples of the solutions and approaches that can affect change. Highlighting projects from a variety of different contexts, scales, and climates leaves participants equipped with a fundamental understanding of the key elements, and introduces the incredible possibilities for restoration and regeneration.

Speakers
ZW

Zach Weiss

Elemental Ecosystems, Bozeman, Montana


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:30am - 10:55am
Room 1313

10:30am

Workshop: Prairie 101: Teaching City-slickers about Prairies through school lessons, pocket prairies, storytelling, and technology
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
avatar for Jaime González

Jaime González

Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Jaime González is the inaugural Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. His work prioritizes building partnerships, designing and managing projects, and assisting communities and other organizations to help make Houston a more healthy, resilient... Read More →
DB

Della Barbato

Director of Education, Native Prairies Association of Texas


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:30am - 12:00pm
Room 1217

11:00am

Cooperative Greenhouse Addresses Houston's Scarcity of Native Prairie Plants
Limited Capacity seats available

Less than 1% of the coastal prairie, Houston’s natural habitat, remains today. Coastal prairie species serve important ecological functions such as flood mitigation and carbon sequestration. The extreme scarcity of coastal prairie plants in Houston leads to a lack of habitat for native fauna, increased flooding, soil erosion, and invasive species, and an overall deterioration of ecosystem health. To address this issue of scarcity, Memorial Park Conservancy provides a business model called the Native Grow Out Program. This program was created to successfully propagate hard-to-source native plants in the park’s greenhouse using two strategies: the CO-OP and the HUB. The CO-OP serves as the “production” portion of the greenhouse, and local organizations join the CO-OP as members that propagate and have a share in the stock of native plants. The HUB serves as the “project” portion of the greenhouse, and partners are granted permission to use the greenhouse for project-specific native plant needs. The Native Grow Out business model increases local availability of native grasses, wildflowers, and forbs and adds to the diversity of plants currently available from commercial sources. Through partnership with local government and non-profit organizations, the Native Grow Out Program will supply Houston’s organizations with a consistent and cost-effective supply of native plants for revegetation, habitat restoration, and enhancement.

Speakers
CR

Cindy Ryoo

Memorial Park Conservancy


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1218

11:00am

USFWS and Prairies
Limited Capacity seats available

Speakers
WW

Woody Woodrow

US Fish & Wildlife Service


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

11:00am

Prairie Restoration Opportunities
The Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) offers landowners and managers impacted by flooding events the opportunity to restore and protect riparian areas.  A major goal of EWP-FPE is to restore the land to its natural condition, while providing as much flood storage and control as possible.  Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain and enhance the functions of prairie and converted prairie floodplains while conserving the natural values such as serving as fish and wildlife habitat, improving water quality, retaining flood water and recharging groundwater.  

This presentation will focus on the purpose and benefits of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection – Floodplain Easement program. The intent of the presentation is to spark interest in participating in floodplain easement opportunities with private landowners and nonprofit organizations.

Speakers

Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

11:00am

Prairie Commons
Prairie Commons is a commercial development in the heart of Flower Mound Texas. It’s design incorporates the Prairie in all elements. The nearby Flower Mound Prairie Remnant serves as the inspiration and even the source of some of the Prairie elements found in the 100% Native Landscape, established from seed. The buildings all capture rainwater, which is used in the landscape and is available to the tenants for non-potable uses. The landscape is comprised of Pocket Prairies, Monarch Waystations, and 5 Native Rain Gardens which capture and filter runoff from the parking. Night sky friendly lighting and large murals help inspire a sense of place and a connection to the historic prairie that once covered the area. This project can serve as a model for future commercial development. This presentation will provide the details of how the project came together, complete with lessons learned about utilizing prairie plants in a landscape surrounded by a highly developed and manicured urban environment. Invasive species management, establishing a landscape with seeds, and managing public expectations will also be covered. Public places can connect us to our natural heritage and remind us of how to become the stewards what little remains. 

Speakers
GC

George Cates

Native American Seed


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:00am - 11:25am
Room 1313

11:30am

The Cultivation of Conservation Awareness and Action: The Galveston Bay Report Card
The Galveston Bay Report Card (GBRC) is a citizen-driven, scientific analysis of the health of Galveston Bay. Supported by a grant from Houston Endowment and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the GBRC is implemented by the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC). The goal of the GBRC is to educate and engage community members in a meaningful discussion about keeping Galveston Bay healthy. The 2018 GBRC is the fourth edition and will continue to be updated annually. Through a series of surveys and interactive presentations disbursed to communities around the Bay, six categories were identified as health topics of interest to the communities surrounding the Bay in the fall of 2014: water quality, pollution events & sources, wildlife, habitat, human health risks, and coastal change. Researchers from HARC then analyzed data and trends for 22 indicators. What has emerged is a compelling story about Galveston Bay, its challenges, opportunities, and most significant needs. This easy to digest format is then distributed through marketing, presentations, and various community outreach events, and programs in the Houston-Galveston Area. The indicators selected represent what people want to know about Galveston Bay, which makes it the first community-based report cards. Galveston Bay Watershed stakeholders must ensure that the messaging used to reach these communities, delivered with the goal of empowering residents to protect their natural resources, is as unique and diverse as the communities themselves.


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1218

11:30am

Audubon Society Conservation Ranching Program
Limited Capacity seats available

Native grasslands are among the most altered and imperiled ecosystems in the world. These ecosystems are dwindling at an alarming rate as tracts are degraded through poor grazing practices, invasive and woody plant encroachment, and conversion to cropland or other development. Birds are an important indicator of overall ecosystem health, and population trends confirm that our grasslands are in crisis. Grassland obligate birds have declined more severely than any other suite of North American birds. Population estimates for 24 species have decreased by more than 40% since 1968. These grasslands also support ranchers and their families, local communities, and regional agricultural economies. Narrow profit margins and increasing costs have forced many ranchers to adopt management practices that are incompatible with the habitat needs for birds. Scalable grassland conservation strategies are needed to meet the needs of the people, communities, and wildlife.

Since 2014, Audubon has worked with beef producers, state and federal agency partners, industry experts, and others to bring about an innovative, producer-centered, market-based certification program. We have helped local ranching communities conserve high quality grassland habitats, and regenerate those that are degraded. The ACR program is now well established in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. We have partnerships with 44 restaurants, retailers, and institutions that buy beef produced on ACR-certified ranches. As of February 2019, there are 799,244 acres of private ranchlands currently enrolled in the program at various stages of the onboarding process, including 492,444 acres fully certified.

Speakers
TS

Thomas Schroeder

National Audubon Society


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1510, The Garden Room

11:30am

Strategic Conservation Prioritization for Katy Prairie: Using Modeling to Identify Focus Areas for Conservation
Limited Capacity seats available

The Katy Prairie provides vital ecosystem services such as flood mitigation, protection of air and water quality, habitat for unique plant and animal species, and recreational opportunities.  These services are being rapidly diminished as vast amounts of prairie are developed as the Houston Metro Area continues to grow rapidly.  In order to maintain the conservation and recreational value of this ecosystem, the Katy Prairie Conservancy has a goal of protecting between 30,000 and 50,000 acres of the Katy Prairie in an area close to 300,000 acres.  Because the area is far from homogenous, conservation value is not constant across the entire area.  In an effort to make their conservation efforts as efficient and effective as possible, the Katy Prairie Conservancy has worked with Siglo Group to develop a Strategic Conservation Prioritization to identify areas or high conservation value.  The process of developing the prioritization included identification of conservation resources, gathering detailed data for those resources, and combining that data using a geographic modelling framework.  Conservation resources used were grouped into water, cultural, and ecological resources and include elements such as wetland buffers, aquifer recharge zones, prime farmland soils, proximity to conserved land, potential prairie remnants, vegetation types, and species of concern habitat.  The resulting prioritization identifies areas of high conservation value and are being used by the Katy Prairie Conservancy to guide their outreach and planning.  The geographic model developed can also be easily re-run in the future as additional data becomes available or conservation goals change.  

Speakers

Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1418, The Forest Room

11:30am

Factors Influencing Success in Urban Prairie Restoration Projects
The City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s Natural Resources Management Program is responsible for managing the undeveloped land within city parks, which covers approximately 16,000 acres. The department is currently working to restore five prairie sites across the city in multi-phased projects. The prairie restoration projects help the department reach a broader goal of increasing green infrastructure within parks for the purpose of mitigating flooding, improving air and water quality, reducing erosion, creating wildlife habitat, and establishing areas for passive recreation. The discussion will focus on the ways that the department manages these areas and specific challenges that urban restoration sites present.

Speakers
KO

Kelli Ondracek

Houston Parks & Recreation Department


Wednesday June 5, 2019 11:30am - 11:55am
Room 1313

12:00pm

Lunch provided
Wednesday June 5, 2019 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Atrium II

1:00pm

Determining Prairie Quality at Landscape Scale
Limited Capacity seats available

Prairies make up large parts of Texas’s ecoregions and are one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America.  Prairies provide habitat for a diverse array of plant and animal species, and are important for nutrient cycling, carbon storage, water quality, livestock, hunting, and other forms of outdoor recreation. The persistence of these ecosystems is threatened by urbanization, conversion to agriculture, fire suppression, exotic plant species, and loss of landscape-level processes. Further, the current condition of these landscapes remains widely unknown. The goal of this project is to systematically sample portions of the Blackland Prairies, Grand Prairie, Crosstimbers and Coastal Prairies to determine, through quantitative sampling, the distribution and quality of grasslands within these areas. Field observations were collected from roadsides, to maximize the amount of data collected over a large area. Samples were no closer than two road miles from the nearest adjacent point and were collected on each side of the road. Vegetation data and geographic locations were documented in ArcGIS. A visual estimate of the percent cover by vegetative strata were recorded, along with the top five visually dominant species of grasses and sedges, top four visually dominant species of forbs, and top three dominant tree and shrub species. These data can be used to document remnant prairie locations and to create species distribution maps. They show the current distributions of invasive shrubs and pasture grasses and can be used to monitor the future expansion of these threats, which can inform management approaches for prairie conservation initiatives.

Speakers
AT

Amie Treuer-Kuehn

Texas Parks & Wildlife


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

1:00pm

Engaging Generation Z in Prairie Conservation
In order to reverse the continual degradation of our environment and local ecosystems we must engage a younger population. As such, most education conservation endeavors seek to increase the participation of grade school children in conservation; however, we often place less emphasis on working with students as they hit the most important transition of their lives: College.  Most college students are at the crossroads of their lives where they are seeking to solidify both their values and career paths. At this critical juncture, it is important that the conservation community actually put more effort into these individuals. It is at this moment in their lives where they are truly capable of making a big impact on the future of our planet. In this talk, I will discuss successful strategies for engaging college students in local prairie conservation. Additionally, I will focus on student and community led initiatives that have actually increased student participation in prairie conservation at the University of Saint Thomas, a minority serving institution located in the middle of Houston. This talk will be suitable for any individual interested in increasing participation of Generation Z (25-18 year olds) in his or her conservation events. 

Speakers
SA

Shivas Amin

University of St. Thomas


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1313

1:00pm

The Use of Prescribed fire, Herbicide Application, and Native Plants to Restore bottomland Blackland Prairie in Constructed Wetlands
Limited Capacity seats available

The Blackland Prairie of Texas, once covering approximately 4.2 million ha, now exists mainly in fragments <10 ha encompassing less than 1% of its original total area. Increasing awareness of the importance of the Blackland Prairie region and the ecosystem services provided therein has promoted restoration of prairie remnants and establishment of prairie plant assemblages in constructed systems. We use a randomized block design to measure levels of short-term phenological success and biomass gain of eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) and lowland switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in constructed wetlands containing encroaching woody and invasive competitor species. We establish three treatments: (1) herbicide, (2) prescribed burn and (3) herbicide and prescribed burn. Each treatment will contain plots with species 1, plots with species 2, and plots with both species 1 and 2 to compare isolated and co-occurrence growth success. Here we compare the existing species composition, diversity, and abiotic factors at two constructed prairie wetlands with mixed land use and management histories. We hypothesize that a combination method of herbicide/prescribed burn will have the greatest negative effect on invasive re-emergence and the greatest positive effect on native plant growth. Results from this study will provide baseline data for native plant success and future management strategies in constructed prairie wetlands, and may be integrated into future bottomland prairie restoration designs.

Speakers
CS

Canaan Sutton

Texas A&M University-Commerce


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

1:00pm

Using Native Medicinal and Edible Plants in Midwestern Prairie
With more people interested in purchasing native plants for their backyard or for attracting monarch butterflies or turning their property into an edible landscape, it is a good time to extoll the virtues of native medicinal and edible plants. Native Americans tribes used 100s of plants for medicine and sustenance throughout North America, a practice that was performed here and throughout the world by other indigenous peoples for centuries. And today, plants are the main source of medicine for approximately 82 percent of the world’s population. So the use of edible and medicinal plants is not some new phenomenon but a long-standing tradition that can be relied on by all of us through studying,  practice, and care.  
Given his background as a restoration ecologist and herbalist, Norman will provide examples and uses of of various medicinal and edible plants from prairies that can be used in the backyard planting project or applied to the larger restoration project. He will also give practical advice on site preparation, planting requirements, selection of seed, root, or other plant part for installation, commercial availability of the various plant species, and other applicable considerations.

Speakers
FN

Frank Norman

Normal Ecological Consulting, LLC


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Room 1218

1:30pm

Louisiana Coastal Prairie Extirpation to Rediscovery: Building a Foundation for Large Scale Grassland Restoration in Southwest Louisiana though Preliminary Aerial Imagery
Louisiana had about 2 million acres of prairie similar to the Midwestern tallgrass prairies, prior to European colonization.  By 1986, coastal prairie was thought to be extirpated form Louisiana.  However, several small coastal prairie remnants were discovered in the late 1980s to early 1990s although fragmented and often degraded.  While coastal prairie habitat has been much reduced from its former extent, several large (~1,000 – 100 acres) promising prairie remnants have recently been discovered (2010-2018) in the western limit of Louisiana’s historical coastal prairie range.  Based on a preliminary review of remote sensing data and aerial imagery, additional unreported potential coastal prairie remnants may persist in both Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes of Louisiana.  The project goal is to identify additional prairie remnants and lands that may best serve as connective corridors or buffer properties for these fragmented remnants via remote assessments.  Eventually, one the parcels containing potential grassland buffers or connective corridors have been identified, field assessments are conducted to rank each parcel based on floristic quality index, proximity to coastal prairie remnant, and overall natural site health.  Although, in the early stages this work has identified several high-quality grassland parcels.  Eventually the data will be used to develop conservation opportunity areas to focus future preservation and restoration efforts.

Speakers
BE

Brian Early

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
SN

Steve Nevitt

Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

1:30pm

Prescribed Fire in Suburban Areas: An Example from Austin’s Water Quality Protection Lands.
Limited Capacity seats available

Prescribed burning has been a land management practice on the Water Quality Protection Lands since 2002, but became more consistent starting in 2006.  Since then prescribed fire has been applied on over 10,000 acres on these lands around Austin, Texas.  This discussion will focus on burning in suburban areas with a strong consideration on sustaining the practice in the future, which requires a solid focus on smoke management and other public considerations.  A series of burns on one of the most suburban management units will be utilized as an example.  This has been a learning process that required adjustments from typical burns and similarly requires a high level of commitment to implement.

Speakers
DK

Dr. Kevin Thuesen

Environmental Conservation Program Manager, City of Austin, Wildlands Conservation Division


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

1:30pm

Harvesting the Prairie Fringe: Native American Bison Hunting on West Houston Prairies
An extensive archaeological database of SE Texas created by the Houston Archaeological Society has been connected via GIS technology to a set of new paleogeographic maps of the Texas coastline in order to chart the early development of the Native American people of coastal southeastern Texas from the Late Pleistocene to the early Historic Era. The data in particular highlight the use of the prairie environment by early hunter-gatherers. The Akokisa band of the coastal Atakapa and their predecessors lived along Galveston Bay and along streams in inland coastal prairies. They maintained a dual lifestyle of seasonal camps on the coast, where they consumed fish, oysters, and clams, and inland hunting camps where they sought bison, deer, and smaller prey. This hunting occurred on the ‘prairie fringe,’ an area southwest of the dense Pineywoods forest where wooded streams project into the broad coastal prairie. Archeological data show that Native Americans, who before about 1700 had no horses, used these branching forested streams to funnel bison and deer into steep arroyo-like stream floors, probably using prairie fire as a driving force. As the bison tumbled from steep banks into the stream beds, they were momentarily slowed, and the harvest ensued. Favorably located small parts of western Buffalo Bayou, White Oak Bayou, and Cypress Creek were used for this purpose from at least 12,000 BP (Before Present) to the early Historic Era. In this manner, the west Houston prairie landscape was sculpted and kept free of intruding woody growth for thousands of years before the arrival of Anglo- and African-American settlers. 

Speakers
DW

Dan Worrall

Author, Harris County Historical Commission


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Room 1218

1:30pm

Panel: Perpetuating the Prairie movement: Community Conservation
Limited Capacity filling up

Collaborations with garden clubs, public gardens and nature centers can educate and inspire the public to conserve our prairies.  Whether teaching about native plants to home gardeners or helping to fund conservation efforts, these organizations can play a critical role in building the ranks of prairie enthusiasts.  This interactive panel will explore the projects that have successfully raised awareness of the importance of prairies to our communities

Speakers
TL

Theresa Lancaster

Houston Museum of Natural Science
AD

Ali Dodson

Katy Prairie Conservancy
JC

Joy Columbus

Houston Botanic Garden
EM

Emily Manderson

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
MP

Margaret Pierce

Garden Club of Houston


Wednesday June 5, 2019 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Room 1313

2:00pm

Analysis of Prairie Transect Data at Armand Bayou Nature Center
Limited Capacity seats available

Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena, TX opened in 1974, preserving 2500 acres of riparian forest, coastal marshes, and prairies bisected by Armand Bayou.  In the first 20 years, the 900 acres of prairie, variously degraded and overgrazed, were invaded by Chinese tallow trees, Triadica sebifera. Restoration began in 1997-98 with aerial herbicide application on 300 acres of Chinese tallow dominated prairie, followed by additional chipping and mulching. Monitoring began in 2000; volunteers currently monitor 30 transects, in 11 management units to track effects of a 10-year management plan of mowing and/or prescribed burning. Volunteers monitor transects, spring and fall, for presence/absence in 20 tosses of a 3/4 m2 quadrat between 2 poles spaced ~ 100' apart of 36 plant species selected for their expected presence along a successional gradient from disturbed to climax species.

The many variables in this study, beyond change in plant species composition over time include: many volunteer monitors, difficulties with plant identification, vagaries of weather and circumstances affecting both management and monitoring capabilities challenge the analysis, as does the size of the database - a gargantuan spreadsheet after 18 years, with small numbers. In addition, prairie plant propagation and reintroduction has ramped up for the past 10 years, installing ~ 10,000 1-gallon native prairie plants each year in the prairie environment, although not directly within any established transects. We would like to present the results of this long-term study of prairie restoration management at Armand Bayou Nature Center.

Speakers
DH

Diane Humes

Texas Master Naturalist-Galveston Bay Chapter


Wednesday June 5, 2019 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

2:00pm

Describing Coastal Prairie Place Attachments for Improved Conservation Messaging
The decision to conserve a natural resource is based on individual beliefs and values. Therefore, the field of communications can aid conservationists in the development of meaningful messaging meant to invoke audience support of conservation efforts. Recent studies have cited the emotional bond between person and place as an effective way to frame conservation messages. This basic qualitative study explored the use of messages based on a tripartite framework of place attachment. A total of 31 individuals were segmented into two audiences based on their identified value toward the coastal prairie. Each individual then participated in a semi-structured interview in which they were asked to describe their feelings of attachment toward the coastal prairie.    
Results from this study showed the audiences’ attachment to the coastal prairie was multidimensional rather than a consistent pattern of physical, social, or experience based connections. The research identified unique themes of coastal prairie place attachment which can aid in the development of conservation messaging. Furthermore, degrees of attachment to the coastal prairie varied between the audiences which exhibited how place attachment can evolve through a process. Therefore, coastal prairie conservation organizations who wish to embody messages which invoke feelings of attachment to place should do so through a multidimensional approach. These organizations should consider how their targeted audience values the prairie, as well as their varying degree of attachment to the prairie as a place.

Speakers

Wednesday June 5, 2019 2:00pm - 2:25pm
Room 1218

2:00pm

Panel: Putting fire on the Ground
Limited Capacity seats available

Moderators
LB

Lori Bammerlin

Kansas State Research and Extension

Speakers
SD

Stephen Deiss

Chief Operations Officer, O'Connor Ranch
SR

Sandra Rideout-Hanzak

Associate Professor and Research Scientist, Texas A&M University - Kingsville
MK

Mort Kothmann

Professor and Assoc. Dept. Head for Undergraduate Programs, Dept. Ecosystem Science and Management


Wednesday June 5, 2019 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Room 1510, The Garden Room

2:30pm

Identification of Selected Grass Species/Genera of the Cajun Prairie
Limited Capacity filling up

The dominant grasses (Poaceae) of the Cajun Prairie will be listed and the BRF (Best Recognizing features) for selected species/genera will be discussed and highlighted via pictures and drawings.  The bluestems, big blue stem (Andropoogon gerardii), old field broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), bushy broomsedge (Andropogon glomeratus), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and slender bluestem  (Schizachyrium tenerum), will be compared.  The other large grasses, switch grass (Panicum virgatum), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), and eastern gamma grass (Tripsacum dactyloides) will be discussed.  Selected other grass genera (Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia), love grass (Eragrostis), Tridens, and three-awn grasses (Aristida) will be covered.

Speakers
CA

Charles Allen

Allen Acres and Professor Emeritus (Univ. of LA-Monroe)


Wednesday June 5, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Room 1418, The Forest Room

3:00pm

Closing Remarks and Conference Wrap Up
Wednesday June 5, 2019 3:00pm - 3:00pm
Atrium II