Conservancy groups fighting to save Deer Park prairie

August 14, 2013 4:20:43 PM PDT
A prairie in Deer Park is in danger of becoming the site of another real estate development. But a passionate group of conservationists won't let the 50-acre piece of land go without a fight.

The landowner has given conservation groups until next week. If they can raise $4 million, they can save the prairie.

This isn't just any old Texas prairie...

"This is the best, this is a platinum prairie," said Katy Emde with the Bayou Land Conservancy.

"It is like a Van Gogh painting, it can't be replicated. We cannot take this apart and take it anywhere else," said Jaime Gonzalez with the Katy Prairie Conservancy.

It's 50 acres of untouched land, where you can find some of the most rare and unique plants and wildlife.

"There's only about one percent of this left in this condition in the greater Houston area. It's almost become extinct and so that's why it's irreplaceable," Gonzalez said.

And to conservationists like Gonzalez and Emde, Deer Park Prairie is a natural treasure.

"Once you start learning about nature and habitat and environments, you just realize that something like this comes along ever so rarely," Emde said.

But the prairie is in danger of being plowed and developed. The landowner wants to turn it into a subdivision, telling Eyewitness News, "It would give the city of Deer Park and the La Porte School District a 250-house tax base."

Derick McClellan is no biologist or botanist, but says he wouldn't mind leaving it alone.

"I think leaving it like that would be good because the field back there, me and my son can go back there and enjoy ourselves," McClellan said.

The only way to save it now is for conservation groups to buy it from the landowner for $4 million. They want to turn it over to the Native Prairie Assoc of Texas to protect it, forever.

"We're gonna use this for collecting seeds to build other prairies," Gonzalez said.

And while they only have until August 20, they're not losing hope.

"We have to keep believing till the very last minute ," Emde said.

The groups also want to turn this house into a visitor's center.

If you'd like to help save the prairie, visit bayoulandconservancy.org or call 281-576-1634.

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