Epic Bus Tour of Central Texas Prairies

BNPAT’s epic bus tour of Northeast Texas prairies was such a success we did it again, this time exploring the prairies of Central Texas. Check out our selection of videos taken on the tour posted at our Facebook page. And our photo album by Stalin SM.

A large bus full of us visited Burleson Prairie  east of Temple, a Blackland Prairie lovingly restored over decades by Mickey and her late husband, Bob Burleson. His gravestone in the midst of the beautiful prairie was deeply moving. We zoomed down to Salado where we enjoyed a private meal at Heart Filled Bakery & Deli thanks to Dolly Kunz Wilson.

The difficulty of Blackland Prairie restoration was on display at Granger Lake Park east of Georgetown. But the eastern gama was strong and other plants were also resurging after the recent drought. Riesel Prairie was small, just five acres, but in very good condition and deeply satisfying. The state equipment it housed to study rainwater catchment in Blackland Prairie native grasses was fascinating.

We ended the day at Simpson Prairie west of Waco, a loving restoration by Marliss and Mike Williams. It was a large swath of Lampasas Cut Plains on a hillside with epic views. It was a perfect conclusion to a compelling sampler of prairies, most normally not open to the public. An exceptional day. Can hardly wait for next year!

2nd Annual Texas Prairies Tour June 3

Blackland Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas
2nd Annual Texas Prairies Tour
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Our Northeast Texas prairies tour was so fun last year, we’re doing it again, but this time we’re heading to Central Texas.

Enjoy short excursions in beautiful grasslands, most of which are not generally open to the public. A chance to stand in awe in a native prairie as it was before westward expansion. We’ll also learn about native prairie restoration and management. Become inspired on how to keep native prairies thriving for generations to come.

We’ll zip south to near Temple, which is halfway between Waco and Austin. After lunch in Salado, we’ll drive further south to near Taylor (west of Round Rock). Heading back north, we’ll go to Marlin (SE of Waco), where we’ll visit a series of small Blackland Prairies. Then we’ll travel west of Waco to tour an example of a Grand Prairie. Heading north to home, we’ll stop in West for dinner.


7:00am — Bus leaves from parking lot at Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther Dr, Dallas, TX 75218.

Prairie #1: Burleson Prairie, Oenaville (east of Temple, Texas):

• Prairie Guide: Mickey Burleson, Owner of Burleson Prairie
Native prairie restored by Mickey and her late husband, Bob Burleson. They spent decades recording prairie data, restoring hundreds of acres of native prairie, and focusing on state wide conservation efforts.

Lunch in Salado with Dolly Kunz Wilson; included in tour fee.

Prairie #2: Granger Lake Prairie, Granger Lake Park, Taylor

• Prairie Guide: Pat Merkord, Executive Director, NPAT
Pat will explain restoration procedures taken on this native tallgrass prairie site, planted in 1994 in a cooperative effort between NPAT, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Prairie #3: Riesel Prairie and Prairie #4: Lehmann Prairie, near Marlin

• Prairie Guide: Pat Merkord, Executive Director, NPAT
These two small prairies are about 10 miles apart and are excellent examples of the native tallgrasses that were prevalent in Central Texas area prior to European settlement. The Lehmann Prairie is an 11-acre remnant prairie protected by a conservation easement. The Riesel Prairie is a 5-acre remnant prairie owned by NPAT.

Prairie #5: Simpson Prairie, near Crawford

• Prairie Guides: Marliss and Mike Williams
Remnant of the Grand Prairie (Lampasas Cut Plains of the Cross Timbers and Prairies) on a gently sloping hillside. Mike remembered seeing some native prairie before the area became overgrazed, located and identified it, and restored it with his wife Marliss. Protected by NPAT conservation easement.

Dinner in West; on your own dime

10:30pm — Bus returns parking lot at Bath House Cultural Center

In case of harsh weather for June 3, the tour will be rescheduled.

Wear loose hiking clothes and sturdy shoes for prairie walking. Bring a hat, bug repellant, and sunscreen. Road snacks/beverages and books/etc to pass the time while traveling, plus back-up power for your phone, are good ideas.

Deadline for payment is May 10:

  • Cost for NPAT Members — $75.00
  • Cost for non-NPAT Members — $85.00
  • Notes on the prairie stops and a map will be provided.

Click here to register for this event.

Contact Pat Rinn, NPAT with any questions about registration.

For Additional Information
Contact Leigh Ann Ellis, 214.321.7159

Daphne Prairie Field Trip

January 28-29

Mount Vernon, Texas

Join this NPAT field trip to visit our newest addition to our land portfolio, the beautiful 922-acre Daphne Prairie in Northeast Texas near Mount Vernon. It happens on January 28-29, 2017.

Daphne-by-StalinSMView this large and very rare tract of Alfisol Prairie with grassland sparrows and other winter birds protected on this property. You do not have to be experienced in birding or wildlife surveying and all can participate by joining the experts as we explore this property and document its species.

Please contact Pat Merkord for information and directions to the property. There will be carpools from the Dallas area and the Houston area if you would like a ride or you may come on your own. pat_merkord@texasprairie.org or call 936-827-7973.

Prep yourself by contacting Timothy Stephen Dalbey for a CD of his report from last year. See his contact info in Visitor Posts in the right column (on computers) on our Facebook page.

Here’s our post from last summer on the field trip. Includes a 360-degree video.

Amy Martin’s poetic report on Daphne is the last section of this article: http://www.greensourcedfw.org/…/north-texas-wild-columnist-…

Maddin Prairie Preserve Winter Bird Survey, Monitoring & Maintenance Field Trip

January 21 & 22, 2017

16003005_574499866092513_7794637711326160865_nIf you would like to explore our fabulous preserve of the Rolling Plains ecoregion consider joining NPAT on a field trip to Maddin Prairie Preserve near Colorado City, between Abeline and Midland. It happens on January 21 and 22.

It is possible to carpool from Houston, Fort Worth and Austin or you can come on your own.

We will be doing surveys of the property including our winter bird point count, survey of prairie dogs and a general wildlife survey. There will be other maintenance activities that will require volunteer help as well such as checking the fence line and water pipes. There are always surprises waiting for visitors such as the burrowing owls living in the prairie dog burrows last January or the porcupine in a tree by Champion Creek that flows through the property on its way to the Colorado river.

To join this field trip contact kirsti_harms@texasprairie.org or pat_merkord@texasprarie.org or call Pat at 936-827-7973.

Texas & Cajun Prairies Symposium – Apply Now

Learn. Connect. Be Empowered.

tx-cajun-prair-fotoAttached is the agenda for the Texas & Cajun Prairies Symposium. The idea is for Texas prairie enthusiasts to travel from Houston (tentatively from Rice University) by bus (where we have a chance to socialize and network with each other) to the USGS’ Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Lafayette, La. There we will meet with prairie enthusiasts of the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society and have an afternoon of informative presentations (see agenda). Following that will be an evening Cajun Party and Fais-do-do!

Note on hotel rooms in Lafayette: there are rooms with 2 queen size beds, so cost can be shared. Cutoff date for getting the reduced conference room rate is September 3, 2016)

On Sunday, there will be a tours of the Eunice Cajun Prairie and the Duralde Prairie followed by lunch and the bus ride back to Houston.

Offer: members ( and new members) of Native Prairies Association of Texas from outside of Houston are invited to bring a sleeping bag and spend the night of Sept. 23 and/or Sept. 25 at the Deer Park Prairie house (there are some beds and lots of floor space; 1222 E. Purdue Lane 77536) or at Pat Merkord’s (Executive Director of NPAT) house in Conroe. Space limited. Reply to Lan.shen@txgcmn.org to reserve your space.

Attached are the agenda and the sponsorship letter that I have enclosed because the letter gives a good description of why we are doing this and has some great photos. Click link below to get PDF.

Agenda Texas and Cajun Prairies Symposium Agenda V2

Letter TX-LA Prairie Symp_Page_1

Should be fun! Sign up now!


What Happened on The Great North East Texas Prairie Tour


NPAT’s first charted bus tour of prairies was a grand success. Writers and photographers chronicled the trip. For a preview of the trip, click here.


Clymer-basketflower-by-StalinSM15 hours, 4 prairies, 45 people, and 1 bus without a bathroom. Amy Martin’s epic tale of the prairie pranksters tour for GreenSourceDFW. It’s already been widely circulated. Look for excerpts in the upcoming Texas Master Naturalists newsletter. Photos by Stalin SM. To read, click here.

A short recap of the tour by M. Denise Costello. To read, click here.


Collection of photos by NPAT. Photographers not identified. To view, click here.

Short 360 degree video of Daphne Prairie by Amy Martin. It’s had over 500 views! To view, click here.

Short 360 degree video of Mary Talbot Prairie by Amy Martin. To view, click here.

Talbot Prairie photo (top), Clymer Prairie basketflower (middle) and Daphne Prairie (below) photos courtesy Stalin SM

The Great North East Texas Prairie Tour

Bus Tour of North East Texas Prairies

Sponsored by the Blackland (Dallas) chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas

Saturday June 4th, 2016

Transportation: Charter Bus
Cost: $65 per Native Prairies Association of Texas member, $75 per non-member
Lunch and dinner included

GambillsGooseRefuge-npatCome visit the most extraordinary and rare Prairies in Texas. These Blackland Long Spike Tridens and Silveus Dropseed Prairies are at their most beautiful in early June. Most of these places are not open to the public except for special invitation like this.

Don’t miss this opportunity to travel via charter bus led by plant, bird and butterfly experts. The day will end with a sunset dinner on the prairie. These tours always sell out. Make your reservations soon.

Article on Northeast Texas prairies by Jason Spangler


Depart: Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake in Dallas.
Free parking.
7:00 AM

NPAT easements adjoining Clymer Meadow – near Celeste
Owned and managed by NPAT
8:15 AM – Depart 9:45 AM

Tridens Prairie & Historical Marker – west of Paris.
Private property.
10:45 AM –Depart 11:15 AM

Gambill Goose Refuge – northwest of Paris
City of Paris park.
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM (Lunch)

DaphnePrairie-npat-smMary Talbot Prairie – near New Boston.
Owned and managed by NPAT
2:30 PM Arrive – 4:00 PM Depart

Daphne Prairie – near Mt. Vernon.
Private property.
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM (Dinner)

Click here to register for this event.