(Click here to see before and after photos)
The objective of the Pine Brook Wetland Restoration project is to restore and enhance the natural wetland and forest fringe area surrounding the prairie pothole/marsh, by removing invasives and replanting with native trees and plants that support migrating and residential birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and wildlife. From November 2007 until January 2014, 250+ Pine Brook residents and other volunteers worked over 7,000 hours in 280 days to remove and treat over 7,400+ invasive non-native plants and vines which have encroached upon the prairie pothole’s perimeter. In the areas where tallows were removed, over 4,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses, aquatic plants and wildflowers (100+ new species) were planted by volunteers and some paid labor. Boy Scout troop #389 removed tallows in the native prairie area and enhanced the native prairie with 450 rescued native grasses and 50 rescued native wildflowers. Boy Scout troop #848 helped restore the wettest areas by removing debris to increase water depth, and planting 350 blooming native aquatic plants. Girl Scout troop #7140 helped plant native grasses. Boy Scout troop #957 built and installed bird nesting boxes. Boy Scout troop #869 removed trash and debris to enable restoration volunteers to access tallow removal site and replant with native trees and shrubs. Boy Scout Troop #848 built a 32' elevated boardwalk. Bob and Debra Goode built a 64' puncheon boardwalk. Boy Scout Troop #869 removed tallow seedlings and saplings from the east side of the 2nd prairie pothole marsh on the north side of Clear lake City Blvd. Multiple Pine Brook ladies planted thousands of native wildflower seeds in the native prairie and forest fringe areas in 2008 - 2012. Quarterly wetland and prairie maintenance takes over 90 volunteer hours annually. A total of 250+ Pine Brook residents and non-residents volunteered over 7,000 hours, from November 2007 to January 2014 to assist with communications, grants, research, invasive tallow/honeysuckle/privet removal, replanting, and watering. Continued tallow removal and replanting with native trees and plants in additional forest fringe areas, as well as a second prairie pothole marsh on the north side, will depend on future donations, and volunteer support.
This project is 100% financed by donations from residents and their employers. 80% of donations will go towards replacement trees, plant materials, and some labor, with 20% going toward invasive tallow and treatment, disposal, and website updates. The use of volunteers and receipt of in-kind gifts has represented a savings of $250,000+ for this restoration project - redirecting funds saved from labor expense towards restoration, enhancement, and increased bio-diversity of habitat.
The Pine Brook Community Association partnered with the Houston Audubon Society for pre and post onsite consultations, community education, and expertise regarding native plants and trees to help restore wildlife habitat. Glenn Olsen, a well known bird and plant educator, and the past president of the Texas Native Plant Society, has been instrumental in providing expert advice to Pine Brook volunteers about identification of non-native species and recommendations about specific native trees, shrubs, plants, vines, and grasses which can enhance bird and wildlife habitat and the beauty of this fragile natural area. Flo Hannah, Audubon Senior Sanctuary Steward, provided valuable consultation about native grasses. Armand Bayou's native prairie experts, Dick Benoit, Texas Master Naturalist and Tom Solomon, Master Gardener, provided on-site advice about enhancing and maintaining the wet prairie area, and restoring with rescued native grasses and sedges. Marissa Sipocz, Wetland Program Director, Texas Coastal Watershed Program, Texas AgriLIFE/Texas Sea Grant, assessed the site's aquatic plants, identified invasives, and recommended enhancements. Keith Crenshaw, Urban Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, provided an overall assessment of the site's wet areas, forest fringe, and prairie area, identified native plants, and made very helpful suggestions about increasing diversity and future maintenance. Advice regarding tallow treatment was provided by the Forest Service, USDA, SRS-62 by James H. Miller and various Master Naturalists with the consensus being to carefully apply Garlan 3A immediately after trunk has been cut. A special thanks to Mark Fox Landscaping and Apache Foundation Tree Planting Program and Trees for Houston for their generous donations of native blooming aquatic plants, shrubs & trees. Doremus Wholesale Native Plant Nursery in Warren, Texas supplied the majority of native trees, shrubs, and plants. Much appreciation to Sierra Club volunteers and Exxon Mobil volunteers for their generous assistance with removal of invasive Chinese tallow saplings and Japanese honeysuckle.
Pine Brook's unique prairie pothole/marsh areas, as well as various pocket parks, have been recognized by the Houston Audubon Society as vital habitat to thousands of migrating birds, including robins, cedar waxwings, goldfinches, yellow-rumped warblers, pine warblers, Wilson's warblers, ruby-crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, blue-gray gnatcatchers, red-shouldered hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and hummingbirds, as well as resident cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, owls, wrens, chickadees, doves, herons, egrets, and ibis. Multiple species of frogs, toads, skinks, turtles, snakes, and butterflies and dragonflies, as well as swamp rabbits and the occasional river otter, opossum, armadillo, raccoon, and deer have also been observed at this site. (Click here to print a wildlife photo page for a children’s nature walk at Pine Brook Wetlands)
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