CONFERENCE FIELD TRIP DESCRIPTIONS
NAPC field trips itineraries have been chosen to showcase the biodiversity and cultural significance of several unique prairie systems found throughout the Greater Houston region. While a single field trip is unable to showcase the full diversity of regional grasslands, the totality of the field trip will include several unique habitats such as coastal tallgrass prairie, saline barrens, coastal cordgrass marshes, flatwoods, pine savannahs, bottomland hardwoods, baygalls, and cypress swamps. The regional locations have been decided at this point but not all the specific site locations have been confirmed at this point, some specific site locations are tentative and therefore subject to change.
Local Field Trips
URBAN PRAIRIES OF HOUSTON
This field trip around the City of Houston will focus on the efforts of l;ocal 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. The urban grasslands are situated adjacent to high traffic areas such as the Texas Medical Center, Rice University, Hermann Park, and Willow Waterhole and provide 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.
CLEAR LAKE AREA PRAIRIES
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.
EAST TEXAS PRAIRIES
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
SOUTHWESTERN HOUSTON PRAIRIES
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
WESTERN HOUSTON PRAIRIES
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
BARRIER ISLAND PRAIRIES
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