Background: The University of North Texas in Denton has adopted a commitment to long-term sustainability and reducing environmental impacts on their campuses. Made possible by yearly student contributions to the We Mean Green Fund (WMGF), UNT’s environmental efforts include: converting their campus to 100% renewable energy, creating a campus community garden, investing in mobile solar-powered generators for university events, art installations on campus storm drains, and a 4-acre prairie restored with native plants, designating UNT as a Bee Campus USA.
Project: Since the project’s inception in spring 2016, the 4 acres of old pasture overrun with non-native Bermudagrass have been transformed into a functioning native Texas tallgrass prairie system, creating enhanced wildlife habitat and field research opportunities for UNT’s ecology students. The Pollinative prairie was created with the goal of improving urban biodiversity and environmental education.
Restoration: Using restoration techniques such as solarization, mulching, and herbicides, volunteers and staff removed the non-native turf grasses, which were then replaced by seeding Texas native grasses and wildflowers. These native plants create healthy grassland habitat essential for dozens of North Texas species, especially insect pollinators and prairie-adapted birds such as American Kestrels. Nest boxes for these small falcons were installed on the property, at the southern edge of their breeding range, where multiple kestrel chicks hatched this year. Additionally, thanks to enhanced pollinator habitat, the property has been designated as a Monarch Waystation, allowing researchers to tag and study migrating monarchs.
Community Impact: The UNT Pollinative Prairie serves as a classroom and outdoor laboratory for the university’s ecology students, where they perform research, learn field techniques, and document biodiversity changes using collaborative databases such as iNaturalist. The prairie’s restoration efforts wouldn’t have been possible without student volunteers, who created and distributed seed balls, removed non-native species, built and installed nest boxes and other infrastructure.
Gulf Coast, Texas
Central Texas, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Fort Worth, TX