Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Local preserve attracts an escaped buffalo (for real)

In a recent Statesman article, Buffalo roams in wildflower center’s preserve, the author describes how an escaped buffalo from a nearby ranch decided to hang out at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s property. This is one smart buffalo! Grass is precious these days with no rainfall and temperatures in the 100s everyday – cattle are even dying out on ranches.

Yet, at LBJ Wildflower Center, they’ve created areas that mimic what the land used to be like here – savannah. In the article, they are pretty happy to have the buffalo visit (perhaps it is a real-time “pat on the back” that their preserve has indeed created a natural habitat), despite the fact that they had to close the hiking trails there.

Workers at the center said they like to think their savannahlike restoration project is what attracted the bison to graze in the nature preserve this weekend.

The area where the animal is grazing is in the Mollie Steves Zachary Texas Arboretum , a 16-acre restoration project that will display different kinds of native grasses and trees in Central Texas, said Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist at the center.

“We just think it’s the coolest thing in the world that she’s choosing that part to hang out,” Waitt said. “The project is much like what Central Texas would have looked like when buffalo actually roamed 200 years ago.”

So imagine that: a buffalo, happy, hanging out in her circa-1811 turf in South Austin. Wouldn’t we be so lucky to build native landscapes where animals would take refuge? [OK, ok, our small city yards are not going to exactly contain a buffalo, but it’s fun to think of it!] Here she is:

Buffalo roams Wildflower Center Preserve

Photo by: Joseph A. Marcus/WILDFLOWER CENTER COLLECTIONS MANAGER

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