Founded in 1974, the Armand Bayou Nature Center covers 2500 acres of land making it one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the United States. The area is unrecognizable to what it was 50 years ago prior to human development. Most of the Texas coast line was once dominated by coastal tall-grass prairie. Miles of native grasses filled the landscape, only interrupted by riparian zones that follow themany bayous that flow into the gulf. Maintaining these habitats is important for many animals, including migratory birds that nest on the reserve. In an effort to save the biodiversity of this quickly disappearing ecosystem, Armand Bayou Nature Center has started a program called “prairie Friday.”
This program helps to propagate gamma grasses, spider lilies, and other various plants. Volunteers take care of the plants in individual pots since seedlings. Once reaching maturity, thousands are planted each year in the field. In addition to planting; removal of invasive species like Chinese tallow and baccarin, followed by herbicide treatment helps to restore the prairie to its original state. Removing these invasive species and replacing them with native ones gives a full view of what conservation work is and what it hopes to do.
Working at Armand Bayou Nature Center has been a very fulfilling opportunity. This piece of nature in the middle of a dense urban area is a beautiful example of how humans can balance their impact on the environment. Working with people equally committed to conservation has been a great inspiration to someone like me who hopes to pursue a career in this field. It stands as a place that future generations can come to appreciate the world we live in.
Taylor Shimabukuro – Coastal Crew