Deadline to save Deer Park prairie is tonight

The Bayou Land Conservancy is trying to raise $4 million to purchase a Deer Park prairie that other developers want to buy for a project.
August 21, 2013 2:32:42 AM PDT
The clock is ticking for a group of conservationists working to keep the Deer Park prairie untouched. We first told you about this story last week. Now, the Bayou Land Conservancy is frantically working to raise the final funds needed ahead of a midnight deadline.

The Bayou Land Conservancy had until midnight tonight to raise about $950,000 to purchase a prairie that other developers want to buy for a project. So they are reaching out to people and business to reach their goal.

As the tall grass of the Deer Park prairie blows in the wind, dozens of miles away, calls are being made to save it from development.

The owner bought the land a few years ago for development. Later, a prairie expert discovered it and asked for permission to explore it. The 53 acres turned out to be a coastal Cajun prairie that is virtually untouched.

"The Deer Park prairie is so special because it is literally an ancient ecosystem. That tract has never been plowed," Bayou Land Conservancy Executive Director Jennifer Lorenz said.

More than 300 plants exist on the prairie.

"Those plants support insects, and some insects only use one plant to eat. And those insects then support the birds," said Katy Emde, a board member of the Bayou Land Conservancy.

The owner agreed to sell to the conservancy if they could raise $4 million. After a year of waiting and with higher offers coming in, the Bayou Land Conservancy was given a two-week deadline.

Tuesday is the last day, with less than a million left to raise.

"Individuals in Houston have come out to the tune of $2 million, $100,000, $50,000," Lorenz said.

So with only hours left, the phone calls and emails for help continue to go out to save an ancient part of the Houston area that has been paved over so many other times.

"Day by day, we are losing green space," Lorenz said.

"It's valuable for the habitat and diversity and the beauty and it's just becoming concreted over," Emde said.

The city of Deer Park plans to allow pedestrian access if the Bayou Land Conservancy can purchase the prairie. Right now, along with personal donations, another corporate and family foundation pledged, they still need $950,000 or less and plan to keep working the phones and computers until the midnight deadline.

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