UNT Researchers Work to Preserve Texas Prairies

As North Texas grows in population, conservationists are concerned about the disappearance of natural prairie land. Researchers at the University of North Texas are working to preserve the prairies, one small step at a time.

For Dr. Jaime Baxter-Slye, the one acre of land at UNT Discovery Park is also a little slice of heaven.

"I just come out here and be a part of nature," said Baxter-Slye, who is the instructional lab coordinator for the UNT Department of Biological Sciences. "It's good for my health. I have to be in nature every day."

The land is part of an important project to save natural prairie land.

"We used to have over 2,000 species of natives plants," she said. "But those are hard to find nowadays."

More than 200 species of native Texas plants can be found at the Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie. It's a student-led project that preserves a circle of life, which through factors like massive development is disappearing, conservationists said.

"It was just open land and now it's just developments," Baxter-Slye said. "Even in my lifetime, I've seen it happen and I worry about the future."

"The main thing we're trying to do with the prairie is increase biodiversity," said Molly Burke, a UNT senior who is involved in a research plot on the land. "So we're trying to bring back some of those native species that are important for the area."

It's not just plant species, either. Insects, fungi, snakes and birds -- like the kestrel, the smallest species of North American falcon. Their numbers are dwindling, but researchers are encouraged to see little ones nesting in a bird box on the property.

Baxter-Slye said donations are being sought for their project. Volunteers are also welcome to learn more at an upcoming work day at the site.

A scientist, Baxter-Slye said the environmental benefits of open prairie land are undeniable. She said anyone can make a difference, by planting their own small prairies at home.

Contact Us