Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead
In the tradition of great urban green sanctuaries everywhere, The Heard stands out as one place in Collin County where all the once-dominant ecosystems remain. Once covered by a great inland ocean, these 289-acres shelter wetlands, prairie and bottomland forest - the portrait of a land before humans arrived. And with a mission of preserving and restoring those ecosystems, The Heard moves inexorably forward - holding firm against encroachment, reaching out to people so they will appreciate natural science and its importance to humanity.
The Heard is in the on-going process of restoring over 65-acres of grassland to native plant vegetation through a combination of transplantation and seeding techniques with native plants known as biome restoration. Native animal species are also being restored to the prairie to repair vital plant/animal relationships necessary for prairie ecosystem function. It is a critically vital habitat for prairie plant and wildlife species that have less and less natural areas available. If left alone, brush and trees would begin to grow in the prairie, returning it to low diversity upland forest, which provides poor habitat for most native animals. To simulate natural conditions, we eliminate encroaching saplings and trees by mowing, or by conducting prescribed prairie burns. The use of strategic spraying of herbicides is also sometimes necessary to control exotic vegetation. Grazing animals such as deer would be a natural way to control growth, but would require fences and pose other problems. The Heard seeks to do as little management as possible, but realizes that without intervention this precious piece of native prairie habitat could be lost forever.
Other projects have included the Heard staff and volunteers performing habitat restoration with early spring plant rescues in Plano, where adult volunteers from the Collin County Native Plant Society and the Dallas Master Naturalists helped dig and move nearly 20 species of rare native plants to an upland prairie restoration area. A group of eight- and nine-year-old home school students planted as part of a conservation biology lesson. Numerous additional plant rescues were conducted by staff and volunteers from Dallas sites being lost to development. Restoration efforts in the Heard wetlands included planting soft-stemmed bulrush for wildlife cover and added plant species favored by waterfowl as forage.