Can Colbert Save Texas Prairie?

Colbert to the rescue? Conservation group appeals to comedy giant to save rare Deer Park prairie

Conservation group appeals to Stephen Colbert to save Texas prairie

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
The Bayou Land Conservancy is asking the Colbert Nation for a publicity boost to save a piece of Houston area prairie. PopFocal.com
Deer Park Prairie high grasses and flowers
Deer Park Prairie, where high grasses provided cover for the Texans fighting Santa Ana at the nearby battlefield. Photo by Lan Shen
Deer Park Prairie Delphinium carolinianum plant flower
Deer Park Prairie is home to more than 300 plant species. Photo by Matt Buckingham
Deer Park Prairie eggs in nest
An Eastern meadowlark's nest with eggs in Deer Park Prairie. The Eastern meadowlark is on the Audubon Society's Top 20 Common Birds in Decline. They need the high grass to hide their nests. Photo by Don Verser
Deer Park Prairie hummingbird
Photographer Stacy Holcomb writes: "Prairies provide flowering plants which produce nectar. This helps feed not only birds which are endangered but also our vanishing bee populations as well. Please help save Deer Park Prairie! Photo by Stacy Holcomb
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Deer Park Prairie high grasses and flowers
Deer Park Prairie Delphinium carolinianum plant flower
Deer Park Prairie eggs in nest
Deer Park Prairie hummingbird

With days left to save a tract of virgin prairie, a Houston conservation group is calling on Stephen Colbert.

After raising a record $3.3 million in three weeks, the Bayou Land Conservancy is still short of the $4 million needed to rescue 53 acres of untouched grassland from a Deer Park developer. The Sept. 10 deadline looms just on the horizon.

But with a quick mention on the Colbert Report, the organization is convinced the temporary spike in national attention — a phenomena known as the "Colbert Bump" — will bring in the remaining $650,000 to protect a ecosystem supporting some 300 plant species and countless varieties of insects.

Bayou Land Consevancy executive director Jennifer Lorenz and her team know the way to Colbert's heart . . . naming rights.

"The entire tract has never been plowed.  It's a glimpse into what Houston used to look like."

"Virgin prairies in Texas are covered in these very small hills experts call 'pimple mounds,'" she tells CultureMap. "It's an ugly name for something that helps support so many wonderful types of plants and animals. So, we've decided to pick a mound and actually name it 'The Colbert Bump.'"

Jokes aside, the plot of land is a rare gem in a region teeming with highways, subdivisions and oil refineries — not to mention one of the busiest shipping ports in the United States. Click here for a visual history of Deer Park development since 1944.

Miraculously, the small plot of prairie has survived and today maintains populations of pocket gophers, crawfish and  Eastern Meadowlark songbirds. Biologists hope to uncover more fauna if and when the conservancy secures the land.

"The entire tract has never been plowed," Lorenz explains. "It's a glimpse into what Houston used to look like. In its natural state, this area is not flat at all but has these minor undulations where grasses and small animals thrive. There would have been bison grazing from here to Galveston."

Unlike the grasslands one might see on an episode of Little House on the Prairie, the pristine land in Deer Park maintains plants measuring as high as six feet. The local tall-grass prairies are rumored to have played a decisive role during the Battle of San Jacinto, allowing Texian troops to hide among the plants and eventual overtake the much larger Mexican army.

The Bayou Land Conservancy is asking supporters to rally the Colbert Nation by posting the organization's donation page or YouTube video on the show's Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.

A last-ditch fundraising dinner is scheduled for Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Monument Inn. Those interested in attending are asked to email info@bayoulands.org to RSVP.

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