Nature preserve, surrounding lands protect last remnants of vanishing Blackland Prairie
By Clay Carrington
Spanning more than one thousand acres in north central Texas, Clymer Meadow Preserve contains some of the last, best remnants of the Blackland Prairie, part of an incredibly fertile grassland system that once stretched north as far as Manitoba, Canada. Because of the prairie’s rich soil, more than 99 percent has been cultivated for agriculture and development, making it one of the most-endangered large ecosystems in North America.
Named for pioneer Jim Clymer, who bought the first tracts in the 1850s, Clymer Meadow serves as a center for study of the Blackland Prairie and the region is an effective example of large-scale conservation done in concert with neighboring landowners. The preserve lies within a larger conservation area that includes properties under conservation easements, as well as lands managed by other private owners.
According to Jim Eidson, manager at the Clymer Meadow Preserve, the cooperative spirit in the area has been a boon for the prairie. “The Nature Conservancy is lucky to have such great neighbors in Clymer Meadow,” he said. “Conservation—and in particular prairie restoration—is a long and difficult process, and it takes the hard work of many. Without help from our neighbors and partners, the remaining Blackland Prairie may well have vanished."
Two globally imperiled prairie plant communities are represented on the preserve: little bluestem-Indiangrass and gamagrass-switchgrass. Other important grasses include big bluestem, meadow dropseed, sideoats grama, and Canada wildrye. Wildflowers, such as rough-leaf rosinweed, purple Indian paintbrush, prairie clover and American basketflower are abundant and in bloom each spring during the annual Clymer Meadow Wildflower tour. The prairie provides habitat for a great number of seasonal bird species. Northern harriers are common through the winter months; eastern bluebirds visit the preserve in the spring; and neotropical dicksissels are abundant during the early summer months.
Clymer Meadow Preserve has been the site of more than a dozen scientific investigations ranging in scope from inventories of prairie invertebrates to noxious weed control. In addition, universities, private research organizations, and public and private primary and secondary schools have used the meadow as a teaching site.
To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s work in Texas, including other preserves and conservation projects, visit nature.org/texas.