Officials with the Katy Prairie Conservancy announced Jan. 14 the organization has acquired 636 acres off Pattison Road in the heart of the Katy Prairie.

The conservancy is a nonprofit land trust that works to protect and restore prairie acreage by both acquiring land and working with area landowners through voluntary conservation easements. The KPC already owns about 18,000 acres in Harris and Waller counties that officials said serves as a home to hundreds of species of wildlife as well as native grasses and wildflowers.

The 636 acres, located east of Pattison Road between Hebert and Morrison roads, is located within a part of the prairie that KPC officials described as "of highest priority for conservation."

"Protecting this area is of great urgency as these lands are heavily utilized by migratory birds such as the sandhill crane and the long-billed curlew," officials said in a Jan. 14 press release. "If these lands are lost to development, birds will have nowhere to stop for the night and could disappear from Houston forever."

MaryAnne Piacentini, the conservancy's president and CEO, said preserving the land is also beneficial in the wake of increased rainfall and flooding events in the Greater Houston area.

“More must be done as the loss of coastal prairie lands threatens the well-being of both people and wildlife in the Houston region,” she said. “Extreme weather events and continuing development have made the timely protection of coastal prairie more important than ever."

In an email, Piacentini said the 636-acre tract had been marketed as a potential development opportunity in the past. Now that it has been acquired by the KPC, the land will be "preserved in perpetuity for conservation," according to the release.

The acquisition was made possible by a contribution from an anonymous donor as well as contributions from the Powell Foundation and the June Jackson Memorial Fund.