December 23rd Winter Walk at Parkhill Prairie and High Point Park/Wildflower Preserve

A few NPAT and Blackland Chapter members visited Parkhill Prairie and High Point Park/Wildflower Preserve for a day of learning and observation. 

Of particular interest was the effect of fire in the prairie ecosystem on each parcel of land.

From: earthobservatory.nasa.gov:

“Fires remove old plant material, consuming dry, dead grass and woody shrubs and trees and returning nutrients to the soil. A burn exposes soil to the sunlight, and new grasses grow quickly in the warmed soil.  If fires did not occur, the trees and other woody plants would quickly infiltrate the grassland.”

The Nature Conservancy is assisting in the restoration of this remnant prairie by control of exotic species and re-introduction of fire as a management tool.

The following information was provided by The Nature Conservancy’s North Texas Preserves Manager, Brandon Belcher:

“Parkhill was burned in October. The conditions were great and the fire success was phenomenal. The spring color should be spectacular!

Below is a map of the area burned – the park is outlined in yellow, the burn unit in red.  On the north end of the burn area, you can find some space that we did not burn (left for simplicity / expediency, as well as to serve as refugia).  In that area (restoration actually), you will find abundant Indiangrass and a good variety of prairie species. 

To reach the area most easily, take the hiking trail starting at the west/left kiosk.  When you reach the overlook at the north end, walk down the hill and to your right (northeast).  You will have no trouble finding and following the firebreak.”

The yellow boundary indicates Parkhill Prairie 436-acre preserve, and the red boundary indicates the 52-acre prairie area burned in October 2020.

–Map provided by Brandon Belcher.
–Fire break was easy to follow.
–Recovering/emerging grasses.
–Crayfish burrow.
–Crayfish burrows/tunnels were easy to spot in the burned area.
–Baptisia on High Point Park/Wildflower Preserve in Farmersville.
–Scenic High Point vista overlooking South Lake Park in Farmersville.
“The garden (prairie) in winter is an emotional experience. You think in terms of decay and disappearing and coming back. You feel the life cycle of nature.” –Piet Oudolf

Location: High Point Park/Wildflower Preserve