We burned it on purpose! You’re looking at a pocket Blackland prairie. Blackland prairie is a grassland ecosystem native to Texas. It once stretched from the Red River to North of San Antonio, but now it’s critically endangered—only about 0.01% remains.
Prairies are disturbance dependent. They require events like fires, trampling, grazing, or mowing, to prevent trees from dominating the landscape and displacing the grasses. Additionally, the plants of the prairie are adapted to fire conditions. The fire helps them spread their seeds, clears space for new growth, and returns nutrients to the soil, and helps the ecosystem thrive.
This burn was conducted by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with support from UT Landscape Services and students. Burning grasses in public, urban spaces can be tricky, but what you see in front of you is proof that it can be done. This prairie represents an exciting step towards regenerative landscaping practices on campus. By using native plants and treating the prairie as it would be naturally, an urban landscape is more resilient, diverse, and requires less inputs like water and labor.
If you’re interested in learning more about the student group that planted the prairie, click here.
If you want to learn more about UT Landscape Services’ innovative practices, click here.
If you want to learn more about the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and their dedication to native plants, click here.