Last week, Sierra Club volunteers from across the state converged on Big Bend National Park to assist with the park’s ongoing grassland restoration efforts. Grasslands in the low-lying flats of the park were devastated by over-grazing in the late 1800’s and early twentieth century when the park land was nothing more than ranch land on the border of Texas and Mexico. In recent years, park officials have been supporting a renewed effort to bring those grassland areas back, along with the flora and fauna that once inhabited it.
The trip was part of the Lone Star Chapter’s efforts to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act by President Johnson in 1964. Under that Act, over 6.8 million acres of land has been established as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System by special Acts of Congress.
The Sierra Club volunteers camped out in the beautifully rugged Chisos Mountain region of the park, and spent their days cutting dead brush – vegetation that had died during the 2011 heat wave and currently presents a potential brush fire hazard to much of the upper basin. The brush was used to spread over swaths of low-lying dessert to protect carefully selected grass seeds spread over the areas where lush grasses once flourished.
In just one week, the group filled 10 truckloads of dead brush – enough to create over 500 feet of grass beds on two acres of land targeted for restoration. According to park officials, it would take over a month for the staff alone with their limited resources to accomplish the same amount of work.
Looking ahead, the Lone Star Chapter intends to work with the state’s Congressional delegation to bring additional funding to the park for its grassland restoration efforts after the initial pilot project and additional study is complete.
You can check-out photos from the trip in the photo album on our Facebook page.