Katy Prairie Conservancy purchases 636 acres

Preserve's protective and restorative efforts expanded

R. HANS MILLER - TIMES SENIOR REPORTER
Posted 1/28/20

The Katy Prairie Conservancy purchased a 636-acre tract of land north of the city of Katy off Pattison Road in the center of the Katy Prairie Preserve in December. The purchase allows the nonprofit …

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Katy Prairie Conservancy purchases 636 acres

Preserve's protective and restorative efforts expanded

Posted

The Katy Prairie Conservancy purchased a 636-acre tract of land north of the city of Katy off Pattison Road in the center of the Katy Prairie Preserve in December. The purchase allows the nonprofit to protect the land from development and eventually work to turn the land into a welcome addition to the conservancy’s conservation efforts, according to a press release from the group.

“Extreme weather events and continuing development have made the timely protection of coastal prairie more important than ever. It is especially important that large, contiguous pieces of land be protected to ensure a wildlife corridor, as well as the survival of healthy ecosystems and species biodiversity,” said KPC President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Anne Piacentini in the release.

While the property currently serves as a cattle operation, it was marketed as prime for development, said KPC Conservation Director Wesley Newman. The tract of land, along with another, smaller tract on the opposite side of Pattison Road, just a short distance north of Morrison Road help to fill a gap in the Conservancy’s conservation efforts that was either not owned by the conservancy previously or was not owned by a landowner friendly to KPC’s mission, Newman said.

“The last thing we wanted is a subdivision right in the middle of what we’re trying to protect,” Newman said.

KPC would like to expand its efforts to restore native grasslands into the area, Newman said. However, that may take some time as volunteers and other needed resources are gathered and other projects are worked on.

“It’s a good candidate for restoration activities,” Newman said. “Primarily it’s just maintaining the open space and the agriculture in the near term.”

Once the restoration is complete, more wildlife than is currently presented is expected to move in, Newman said.

“It’s primarily going to be used by grassland bird species. When it’s wet like [it has been this winter], Long-Billed Curlews will get in there pretty quick,” Newman said.

The Long-Billed Curlew is an important species to the nature preserve, and is the bird that ultimately helped KPC get its Globally Important Bird Area certification from the National Audubon Society, Newman said.

The land purchase is just one of the actions the conservancy is pursuing, according to the press release announcing the real estate deal. The conservancy has four primary goals in 2020 which includes increasing coastal prairie acreage, restoring and enhancing protected lands, collaborating with other organizations and connecting with the public through education, public access and outreach.

Newman said there are opportunities for community members interested in helping to restore the Katy prairie to volunteer. Each Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers may come out to work. The field office at 31950 Hebert Road near Waller is also open from the first and third Saturdays of each month. Volunteers are encouraged to call ahead, he said.

“Other events we also have published on the website,” Newman said. “Tours, workdays or special things like that.”

Newman said the efforts of the conservancy have preserved the Katy Prairie well over the 20 year span he’s been there.

“It’s still a good, functioning ecosystem,” Newman said.

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