Less than 1% of Texas prairie still remains. In North America, tallgrass prairies are the most-endangered ecosystem, but they are also one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Recent studies show a decline in insects like the Monarch butterfly, bees, and other native pollinators that thrive on the diverse plant life of the native prairie ecosystem. This decline in prairie habitat is due to a variety of reasons- including urbanization, pesticide use, habitat loss, planting non-native and invasive species, and maintaining grass lawns. Although there are a variety of root causes for prairie loss, the Restoring Texas Prairies project wanted to focus efforts on education, combatting the lack of knowledge on the importance of native plants, the ecosystem, and the harmful effects of pesticides.
Restoring Texas Prairies is an individual project located in the Gulf Coast with a mission of prairie land restoration and educating the community on the importance of prairies, native plants, and pesticide-free gardening. The project hopes to increase the knowledge of native plants, the ecosystem, and the harmful effects of pesticides in its local community.
Project Description & History
The Restoring Texas Prairies project was started by Oksana Arevalo in 2020. She first became passionate about prairie restoration during the pandemic, when she and her family became interested in monarch butterflies and building their garden to attract these pollinators. Upon learning about the significance of prairies as an ecosystem that maintains balance for the insects, birds, animals, and humans that rely upon it, Oksana was inspired to begin her project, and help others become educated about the issue and take action together. Oksana is also a Girl Scout and she won the highest possible award, the Gold award, for the merits of her project.
Through the Restoring Texas Prairies project, volunteers planted 450 plants on 1,000 sq feet at the Houston Arboretum. Planting native prairie plants will help contribute to biodiversity and help native insects, who thrive on the diverse plant life of the prairie ecosystem. Plants the organization has planted thus far include:
Fall Obedient Plant
Gregg’s Mist Flower
Tropical Red Salvia
After the planting, volunteers set up educational booths at the Houston Arboretum to engage volunteers and park visitors with information about planting. Posters and books displayed at the booth showed the benefits of planting native species, the harmful effects of pesticides, the impact of non-native plants, and recommendations on which native plants to plant.