Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary’s mission is to bring nature and people together. A critical element in this mission is providing a place where future generations can enjoy our native Blackland Prairie in a state similar to what it once was. This element requires both restoration and conservation efforts on the part of the Heard staff and volunteers.
“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
Once covered by a great inland ocean, Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary’s 289-acres include habitats such as wetlands, prairie and bottomland forest. In our efforts to preserve and restore our Blackland prairie ecosystems, the Heard holds firm against encroachment, reaching out to help our community appreciate natural science and its importance to humanity.
Through a process known as biome restoration, we continue to work to return 65-acres of grassland to native plant vegetation through a combination of transplantation and seeding techniques with native plants. The prairie is a critically vital habitat for prairie plant and wildlife species that have less and less natural areas available. Because factors that once kept brush and trees from growing in the prairie have largely been eliminated, if left alone, these plant types would begin to grow in the prairie, returning it to low-diversity upland forest. This type of forest is 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. Naturally occurring grazing animals such as deer also help control growth. The Heard seeks to leave our prairie as natural as possible, but realizes that, without intervention, this precious piece of native prairie habitat could be lost forever.
Heard staff and volunteers have also performed habitat restoration using native plants that were rescued from various sites in North Texas that are being lost to development. These efforts are often aided by volunteers from the Native Plant Society of Texas Collin County Chapter and the Texas Master Naturalists Blackland Prairie Chapter.
The Heard welcomes scouts and other groups to assist with special service projects. Picking up trash from our grounds and trails is always an available project option for groups of all sizes. Other projects such as trail and sanctuary maintenance, habitat restoration, and handiwork jobs may be available. All service projects must be pre-scheduled. Ages: 10 through adult.