Nineteenth century Texas politician Rip Ford once said, “To roam amid the unchanging scenes of nature, where the foot of civilized man never trod before… and to realize that you constitute a part of these” produces a buoyant spirit. His words speak to a connection to nature all of us possess, and it’s that connection that has prompted The Nature Conservancy to protect the Nash Prairie Preserve.
The 400-acre tract is one of the last remaining segments of the Great Coastal Prairie, which once encompassed six million acres between Lafayette, Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas. Nash is a pristine piece of prairieland, largely unaltered by man or machine. More than 300 plant species have been documented there, including several rare species and at least one type of grass thought to be extinct in Texas since the 1800s.
Nash was once part of the KNG Ranch, which was run by Houston socialite Kittie Nash Groce. After she traded designer dresses for work boots, journalists described her as the “biggest rancher in Brazoria County to wear pants, lipstick and rouge.”
At the time, Kittie was not fully aware of the land’s botanical riches; she used the land to grow nutrient rich hay for her livestock.
In 2003 ranch stewards, including the congregation of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in nearby West Columbia, rediscovered the true significance of Nash. The gently rolling landscape provides habitat for 120 species of birds, many of which are in serious decline, and its diversity of plant life creates a natural seed source for other prairies in need. Father Peter Conaty of St. Mary’s describes Nash in simple, succinct terms: “In theology, we talk about a thin place where heaven and earth meet, where we will find God. And this is where I find God.”
Less than one percent of the Great Coastal Prairie still exists, and barely a fraction of it is virgin prairie like Nash. Help us conserve this unique but vanishing natural treasure for generations to come.