Meadow Nature Preserve

 

The Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve is truly nature’s playground.

Open to the public daily from dawn until dusk, the Meadow represents 72 acres of natural habitat, rich in floral diversity that is reminiscent of the tall grass Blackland Prairie that once existed here.

This family land was set aside by Frances Williams in 1981 so that residents would be able to experience the unspoiled beauty of nature forever. It is owned and perpetually maintained by the Connemara Conservancy Foundation.

Open to the public from dawn until dusk, we ask that you please abide by our policies.

A number of tri-fold brochures on specific subjects may be downloaded and printed for your use.

The Meadow is made available to the public as a place to revive the spirit while teaching the importance of nature and biodiversity in the world where we live.

“’Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.’
So sayeth Wordsworth, and me thinks he speaks of Connemara.”
— Frances Williams


History

In the 1970s Frances (Montgomery) Williams worried that open space was rapidly disappearing in the face of development. In 1981, with an initial gift of 72 acres of a meadow area on her family’s land, the Connemara Conservancy Foundation was formed. Today Connemara protects thousands of acres in North Texas. From its start, the Connemara Meadow Preserve served as an avenue to connect people with nature. For more than 20 years, outdoor sculpture exhibits and concerts encouraged visitors to venture miles from nearby cities into the countryside. Today, even as development has surrounded the land, the Connemara Meadow Preserve remains a natural oasis for nearby residents and visitors.


Guiding Principles

For decades, the Connemara Meadow Preserve was used for crops and pasture. Today it is managed to achieve balance between preserving the land “in a state of natural beauty” and creating a place that is “pleasant and agreeable for people.”


Ecology

Plants provide the habitat for wildlife in the Meadow, and the combination of water, soils, topography and influence of man and animals determines what grows where. In some areas, the Meadow is recovering from decades of farming and is amazingly rich in plant diversity. Other areas will require intervention to remove non-native plants where they have become a monoculture, limiting native diversity. The availability of water and the land management practices of the past have combined to create several distinct habitat types:

  • Lower Meadow Wetlands (4 acres)The shallow saddle of the Lower Meadow is dominated by plants adapted to saturated soil conditions. These wetlands resulted from very low-permeable soils, gentle topography and the input of water from overflows of Rowlett Creek and Upper Meadow runoff.
  • Lower Meadow Grasslands (32 acres)Grasses and wildflowers that favor moist soil conditions grow here. This floodplain habitat along with the wetlands supports reptiles, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates and aquatic and emergent vegetation.
  • Rowlett Creek and Riparian Zone (7 acres)The forests on either side of Rowlett Creek favor moist conditions provided by this large perennial stream. This riparian zone is a very biologically diverse habitat and critical as a wildlife corridor.
  • Fence Rows and Wooded Islands (7 acres)Fence-row woodlands form a natural buffer around the Meadow in areas of both wet and dry soils and along perimeter and interior fence lines established during the property’s history of agricultural use. This habitat provides important wildlife corridors and connectors between other habitat types on the property.
  • Upper Meadow Grasslands (22 acres)Upland grasslands are located on the hillside above the Rowlett Creek floodplain. Here grasses and wildflowers thrive despite the drier soil and steeper slopes. Vegetation is less thick than in moist areas, but just as diverse. The past agricultural history of this portion of the Meadow is evidenced by the existing terrace system.

Influence of Man and Desire for Restoration

The Meadow has been shaped by natural processes as well as human activity. Two centuries ago tallgrass prairies covered 20 million acres of Texas, including this Meadow. Woody plants were kept under control by natural wildfires, so grasses and other herbaceous plants remained dominant. Within the last century the land was farmed for grain crops or used for pasture. Farm machinery substituted for wildfires in limiting the expansion of forested areas. Restoration activities are now underway to re-establish native prairie plants and replace the introduced and invasive plants that are so well entrenched. Native plants are preferred for their drought tolerance, floral diversity, support of native wildlife and reminder of the plants once at home here.

Your Support is Needed

The Connemara Conservancy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is funded entirely by activities, sponsors and gifts from people like you. Join us in our celebration of the land and in our vision that the last crop we reap won’t be concrete. Become a donor or volunteer today

A special Recognition and Thanks goes to our Meadow Sponsors.

 

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Site last updated March 17, 2017 @ 3:10 pm; This content last updated October 8, 2016 @ 5:38 pm