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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.