Galveston Bay Foundation Conserves Remnant Prairie
Galveston Bay Foundation is a conservation nonprofit that has served as guardian of Galveston Bay since 1987. Our mission is to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come. We work to facilitate a true cross-section of Bay interests through creative, inclusive and forward-thinking solutions to the challenges confronting Galveston Bay.
Through actions and partnerships and a commitment to sound science and research, we have five main program areas in which we work on behalf of the Bay. They are education, advocacy, restoration, conservation and protection. Each program area is broad and deep, offering a range of solutions and opportunities to preserve the Bay for generations to come.
In July 2020, the Galveston Bay Foundation acquired 79 acres of remnant coastal prairie in Brazoria County, as part of its continued effort to conserve coastal habitat through property acquisitions and conservation easements. Conserved land provides clean water, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty, a refuge for wildlife, and a host of other benefits. Since its establishment in 1987, Galveston Bay Foundation has conserved more than 8,000 acres of coastal habitat through property acquisitions and conservation easements and plans to add another 4,600 acres of before the end of 2020. The Foundation was accredited by the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission in 2013 and re-accredited in 2019.
“The Texas Coast was once home to an estimated 6 million acres of coastal prairie. Today, less than one percent of that coastal prairie remains in a relatively pristine condition,” said Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation’s president. “At this point, every acre of conserved remnant prairie in our region is important. In terms of its biological value, Flo Hannah Prairie has been compared to Nash Prairie, another large remnant coastal prairie that has been conserved, so we are excited to be able to preserve this Texas coast treasure for generations to come.”
A remnant prairie is defined as an isolated prairie site with original vegetation, very little if any non-native species and undisturbed topographic features. Strategically located off County Road 213, north of the Brazoria National Wildlife Reserve, the acquisition site is adjacent to a 35-acre tract that The Galveston Bay Foundation previously acquired in 2019 — for a total of 114 acres that have now been preserved in the area.
The site will be named the “Flo Hannah Prairie” after Flo Hannah, a Galveston native and a renowned conservationist and prairie enthusiast, who passed away from cancer in 2018. A steward for the environment and the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, Hannah was passionate about native grasses and did meaningful work in native prairie plant restoration through her role at Houston Audubon Society, her own nursery of Gulf Coast Prairie plants, and her involvement with several local nature conservancies.
“Mom was so quiet about her achievements and accomplishments in prairie restoration and stewardship, and she would have been overwhelmingly humbled by this honor,” said Emily Coulter, daughter of the late Flo Hannah, speaking on behalf of herself and her sisters. “The Galveston Bay Foundation has made such an incredible effort, and we hope we speak for all of her family, friends, and colleagues when we say thank you for honoring her. She felt so passionately about prairies – far more than any possessions. This is a perfect gift to the community as a whole, and it is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come. Thank you!”
Funding for the acquisition was provided primarily by the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant. Private funds from friends and family of Flo Hannah, as well as the Hershey Foundation, Houston Audubon Society, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and several other private donors have supported the effort. Additional support for this effort was also provided by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program through a Conservation Assistance Program grant.