About Coastal Prairie Conservancy: Indiangrass Preserve
The Coastal Prairie Conservancy is a nationally accredited 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Houston, Texas whose mission is to help sustain a resilient Texas by preserving coastal prairies, wetlands, farms, and ranches to benefit people and wildlife forever. The Coastal Prairie Conservancy is a trusted leader in local land conservation, and currently protects over 29,000 acres of coastal prairie in Texas. On the Katy Prairie in Harris, Ft. Bend, and Waller Counties, CPC owns nearly 13,500 acres and protects nearly 16,000 acres through conservation agreements with private landowners.
The Greater Houston area has experienced rapid growth, resulting in the conversion of thousands of acres of prairies and farms into commercial and residential areas. In an effort to protect Texas’ coastal prairie ecosystem, the Coastal Prairie Conservancy continues to work toward four primary goals: increasing protected coastal prairie lands, restoring and enhancing conserved lands, collaborating with other organizations to ensure a vibrant and resilient community, and connecting the public with nature through public access, educational programming, and outreach. The Indiangrass Preserve is the Coastal Prairie Conservancy’s largest showcase prairie and acts as the base of operations for restoration projects, volunteer activities, and outreach programs.
Project Description & History
The Indiangrass Preserve project began in July of 2014, when the Coastal Prairie Conservancy restored 22 acres of wetlands and 31 acres of grasslands to approximate the landscape that existed before the land was developed as a research facility. After construction was completed on the Indiangrass Preserve in 2014, made possible by the generosity of multiple funders, the organization’s community of institutional partners, expert conservationists, and dedicated volunteers began work to fully restore the landscape. Heavy rains in 2014 allowed the newly-created wetlands to revegetate on their own, and the Coastal Prairie Conservancy then augmented this growth with transplanted materials from similar wetlands. With the help of several experienced conservation groups, including Texas Master Naturalists, the 31-acre grassland project was seed drilled to reestablish native grasses while CPC supplemented the effort with 4,000 grasses and wildflowers from volunteers.
To improve public access to the Katy Prairie, CPC received extensive grant funding and support to construct the Ann Hamilton Trail, a 1 ½-mile nature trail that winds through the restored prairie and wetlands complex. The ADA accessible trail provides visitors with access to natural spaces and educational opportunities to learn about the prairie’s role in helping provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities.
In the seven years since this project began, the Indiangrass Preserve has flourished and returned to its near-original state with remarkable speed, welcoming back numerous species of native plants and wildlife that were believed to be lost forever. Today, visitors can observe and enjoy variety of species from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need list, including the following: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Snowy Egret, LeConte’s Sparrow, Mottled Duck, American Bumblebee, Northern Bobwhite, Sprague’s Pipit, Southern Crawfish Frog, Loggerhead Shrike, Western Spotted Skunk, and Upland Sandpiper.
Over the course of 2022, several enhancement projects were undertaken at the Indiangrass Preserve to support restoration activities and enhance the visitor experience. Volunteers established a trail maintenance program, wetland discing took place to encourage plant diversity and benefit migratory waterfowl, a new 1.5 mile natural surface trail was opened to the public, and over 1,100 native plants were planted at the annual Putting Down Roots event.
The Indiangrass Preserve serves the community by allowing private landowners and organizations to see an example of successful restoration in the region. Prairie conservation and restoration provides important ecological services that benefit the greater community. Restored prairies like the Indiangrass Preserve absorb and hold back flood waters while sequestering carbon, help protect water quality and quantity, and provide habitat for diverse wildlife. Protecting coastal prairie now means current and future generations will continue to have access to these wide-open spaces.
This project’s success is thanks to the generosity and tireless work of so many individuals and partners, and that spirit continues at CPC’s annual Putting Down Roots event, where volunteers plant natives and maintain the health of this vibrant prairie landscape. The Indiangrass Preserve is open to the public Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and hosts a variety of educational programming and interactive experiences throughout the year. Interpretive signs installed along the Ann Hamilton Trail allow guests to learn while exploring the prairie on their own. By walking the trail, attending monthly Unplugged Adventures, or participating in the annual Putting Down Roots event, visitors can view native plants, encounter wildlife, and capture scenic views of this prairie ecosystem that will be preserved forever.
There are more than 4,700,000 people in Harris and Waller Counties, and the Indiangrass Preserve affords a place for individuals and families to explore the outdoors and conserves a living laboratory for research and educational programming. Today’s and tomorrow’s adventure seekers have a place to go thanks to protected spaces like this one.
Invested by the community in the Coastal Prairie Conservancy Indiangrass Preserve restoration project.
Acres of wetlands and grasslands restored. Various Species of Greatest Conservation Need inhabit the Indiangrass Preserve.