The commitment comes from the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Family Foundation and will serve as a defining element of the Memorial Park Master Plan’s Land Bridge and Prairie project that is aimed at establishing a more resilient ecology; enhancing animal habitats; improving stormwater management; and providing a beautiful, immersive and accessible experience for the park’s visitors, according to the news release.
“The transformation of Memorial Park is vitally important to our city and our foundation,” Cyvia Wolff said in the news release. “We are honored to be part of this incredible effort and proud to join the Kinders and others who have funded the vision for the park. Together, we are creating one of the largest urban prairie reclamation efforts in Texas so that Houstonians can experience a native landscape that has largely been lost.”
The prairie will extend from the basin south of the land bridge, up and over the mounds, and into the area north of Memorial Drive, and it will restore nearly 45 acres of endangered Gulf Coast prairie that once thrived in the Texas and Louisiana region for thousands of years, according to the release. Today, that Gulf Coast Prairie habitat is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America, with less than 1% of its historic range remaining.
Memorial Park will achieve this large-scale restoration by taking seeds from the existing prairie along the railroad tracks and adding them to thousands of pounds of additional seeds The Nature Conservancy is collecting from other regional prairies.
With the restoration, Memorial Park expects to increase its resiliency during times of drought and in times of flood, with the prairie’s deep root system that will allow for greater absorption and the south prairie basin that will detain more of the stormwater that flows through Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou during heavy rain events, according to the release.