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going with the flo

Galveston Bay group honors conservationist's legacy with coastal land grab

Galveston group honors conservationist's legacy with coastal land grab

Flo Hannah Galveston
Flo Hannah (left) will be honored with a 79-acre prairie.  Photo courtesy of Sarah Hannah

Local conservationists scored a major win with a recent move by the Galveston Bay Foundation. The organization just 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.

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 new 79-acre 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.

Hannah was a key figure at Houston Audubon Society, her own nursery of Gulf Coast Prairie plants, and her involvement with several local nature conservancies. She was involved in preserving the Deer Park Prairie and Nash Prairie — two other remnant prairie tracts that have been conserved in the Houston region in recent years. The Galveston Bay Foundation intends to have a dedication ceremony of the Flo Hannah Prairie this fall.

Just what is a remnant prairie? Essentially, it’s an isolated prairie site with original vegetation, very little if any non-native species, and undisturbed topographic features, according to the foundation.

The acquisition was funded primarily by tahe 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.

Since its establishment in 1987, Galveston Bay Foundation has conserved more than 8,000 acres of coastal habitat through property acquisitions and conservation easements. The organization plans to add another 4,600 acres of before the end of 2020.

“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, in a statement. “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.”