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In being good stewards to the land, the Dallas Park and Recreation Department is looking for ways to better manage our limited natural resources on city park properties. Much is made of the blackland prairie remnants at White Rock Lake, but those remnants are not the only ones found in Dallas city parks. Another fairly large remnant can be found at Harry S. Moss Park in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas.
In 1972, the Dallas Park and Recreation Department took over management of the property willed to the City of Dallas by the Moss family. Up through the early 2000’s, much of the park was maintained as a prairie through some great volunteer efforts. The tall grasses were present, and local residents enjoyed the wildflowers that were present throughout the growing season.
Once those volunteer efforts disappeared, the city was unable to continue the prairie maintenance as it was being done. Without some type of disturbance, be it fire, grazing or mowing, woody species of plants will quickly take over a prairie area. This “woody encroachment” has been seen in prairie areas at both White Rock Lake and at Harry S. Moss. As the woody species take over, the area become less favorable to pollinator species (assorted bees, butterflies, etc.).
Prairie and pollinator conservation are the forefront of conservation efforts right now, and the Dallas Park and Recreation Department is trying to do its part in those efforts. Luckily, they go hand in hand. Anything you can do to help restore prairie areas help the pollinator species, and you have to have the pollinators to help the prairie flourish. Probably the most noted pollinator is the Monarch butterfly, which was noted at Harry S. Moss Park during the October 2016 BioBlitz conducted at the park. Through habitat restoration efforts, like prairie restoration, we should see an increase in biodiversity in the parks.
The Dallas Park and Recreation Department’s Urban Biologist, Brett Johnson, identified the prairie remnant at Harry S. Moss Park as a priority for restoration within the park system. Shortly thereafter, two opportunities became available for restoration work. The Department will be working with a group of prairie restoration volunteers, headed by Mark Bulloch of Native Restorations. The city entered into a beautification agreement with the group to restore the blackland prairie at Harry S. Moss Park back to its original state. The restoration efforts will include removal of the invasive woody vegetation and other non-native species and restore the native grasses and wildlfowers which make the blackland prairie community so unique. In addition, in 2016, the Texas Discovery Gardens was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for pollinator conservation efforts. Funds from this grant will be used on Dallas park properties to establish formal pollinator demonstration gardens around Dallas. Some of the funds will also go towards helping reseed and plant large acreage areas, like Harry S. Moss Park, with native, pollinator friendly species of plants.
As the project progresses, there will be opportunities for more volunteers to be involved. “The Dallas Park and Recreation Department is grateful for the partnerships efforts of these groups in helping restore the vital blackland prairie at Harry S. Moss Park. The results will truly benefit the community for years to come.” said Oscar Carmona, Assistant Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.