Twelve Hills Nature Center

Twelve Hills Nature Center Created on reclaimed land, Twelve Hills Nature Center provides easy access to nature for the public and an outdoor classroom for local schools.
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Twelve Hills Nature Center is an urban preserve located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. It serves as an outdoor classroom and passive recreational area. It seeks to educate both adults and children about environmental stewardship and community-building through the grassroots creation and maintenance of a native Texas blackland prairie, and small wetland.

Operating as usual

How does wildlife cope with the cold?
02/15/2021

How does wildlife cope with the cold?

With the weather in Texas being below freezing for many days in a row, you may be as worried as I am about the wildlife. Although I know they are better equipped for cold winter than humans are, I needed to know more to ease my own mind, and then what, if anything, I could do to help them.

Nature is pretty amazing, and wildlife has the ability to adapt to harsh weather. There are several ways they do this.
• Hibernation (such as the box turtle, bumble bees, garter snake, prairie dogs, geckos, ladybugs)
• Torpor (a state of reduced metabolism where the body temperature is lowered, requiring less calories to maintain heat)
• The natural insulation of their winter coats and feathers
• Conserving energy and fattening up in the fall
• Shivering to raise metabolic rate and generate body heat temporarily.

It’s comforting to know that all mammals grow some kind of a winter coat, and many have built up fat reserves to help them get through the winter if there isn’t enough food. Many will stay in their dens to conserve energy and stay warm.

Similar to mammals, some birds grow extra feathers in a late fall molt that provides a thicker protection. Their legs and feet are covered with “specialized” scales that minimize heat loss. They can also control the temperature of their legs and feet separately from their bodies by constricting blood flow to their extremities, thereby reducing heat loss without risking frostbite.

Birds literally fluff their feathers to trap air which is then heated by their body. Some birds, such as hummingbirds, chickadees, and swifts will go into a mild state of topor to conserve energy as a way to survive cold temperatures.

Beavers have a slick, greased, waterproof coat on the outside and dense fur underneath.

Ducks and geese have a doubled-layered plume with down feathers close to their body covered by longer, oily feathers to waterproof them and an awesome network of veins that carries warm blood down to their feet.

Opossums have the most difficult winters of all. They don’t grow as thick a coat as some of the other animals, and their ears and tails are furless. They also rarely share a nest with other opossums. They do tend to stay in their den during bad weather, but because they don’t stay in the same spot for very long, they can be more vulnerable when looking for a new den and out foraging.

Raccoons have a thick coat and tend to stay in their den when the weather is bad.

Skunks also stay in their dens during cold, harsh weather. And interestingly, because of their gentle nature, they may spend the winter in groups making survival easier by sharing heat.

Squirrels eat a lot of food during the fall and build up their fat reserve. Their coat and tail can help protect them from the cold, but they rely on their nest for protection. They may also share a nest and stay close to each other for warmth.

So what can you do to help them through this weather?
• Provide a warm den
• Build a brush pile out of leaves and sticks for them to shelter in. Or if you have a brush pile currently, leave it be for now. Small animals and insects will find it and use it as shelter from the cold.
• Melt a hole in the ice on ponds to allow the wildlife to drink, and enter and exit the water. Fill a saucepan with hot water and set it on the ice until a hole has been melted. Do not hit or crack ice as this can send shockwaves through the water that will harm wildlife
• Melt the water in birdbaths with the method above.
• Be careful when you turn compost heaps. These are often warm and can be a winter resort for frogs, toads, and other animals.
• If you don't have a birdbath, provide a shallow dish or container of water. Switch out if frozen.
• Make an insect or bug hotel (do an internet search on how to do this) and put up in a sheltered position. Overwintering ladybirds and lacewings will find this useful
• Leave healthy herbaceous and hollow-stemmed plants unpruned until early spring. These can provide homes for overwintering insects and animals
• If you start your car, check under or bang a little on the hood before you turn it on. Your car's engine is a warm, dry place where small animals might seek shelter.
• Check bonfires before they are lit for sheltering and hibernating animals
• The area under bird feeders can be the local diner for a number of mammals.

Share any ideas you may have to help our wildlife make it through these below normal temps in North Texas!

Some beauty at Twelve Hills on a cold day!
02/13/2021

Some beauty at Twelve Hills on a cold day!

Twelve Hills Nature Center salutes Black conservation heroes during Black History Month! Learn about some of our first p...
02/12/2021
Black History Month

Twelve Hills Nature Center salutes Black conservation heroes during Black History Month! Learn about some of our first park rangers, first fire fighters, first mountain bikers, the Black Civilian Conservation Corp. that built the infrastructure for many of our parks, and more. Follow the links to the schedule of virtual programs. Thank you to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Buffalo Soldier Heritage Outreach Program for these great resources. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see a list of outdoor organizations.
https://www.tpwmag.com/2021/02/black-history-month.html

Texans experiencing outdoor activities together. Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, birding and more. Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine

"And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in the winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous."-Rumi
02/03/2021

"And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in the winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous."
-Rumi

Winter color at Twelve Hills!
01/24/2021

Winter color at Twelve Hills!

One reason Texas is so awesome is we get to keeping gorgeous butterflies all the way into December? This lovely gulf fri...
12/05/2020

One reason Texas is so awesome is we get to keeping gorgeous butterflies all the way into December? This lovely gulf fritillary butterfly is is visiting some of the last remaining salvia greggii blooms!

#butterfly #pollinatorgarden #prairie #blacklandprairie #gulffritillary #butterflygarden #twelvehillsnaturecenter #dallastx #decemberintexas #dfwnature

On Saturday, Dec. 12 at 11AM, the North Texas Master Naturalist LatinX Inclusion Team is presenting Trees Awakening in S...
12/04/2020

On Saturday, Dec. 12 at 11AM, the North Texas Master Naturalist LatinX Inclusion Team is presenting Trees Awakening in Spanish and English. To hear it, visit The Dallas Public Library story time found at BIT.LY/TREESAWAKENING. Next year, the team will present stories from Twelve Hills.

We've got t-shirts, cozy sweatshirts and hoodies, plus mugs & totes available for a limited time with our brand new logo...
12/04/2020

We've got t-shirts, cozy sweatshirts and hoodies, plus mugs & totes available for a limited time with our brand new logo (designed by the one and only Amanda Pounds)! Choose from classic or premium blends in adult and youth sizes! Show your pride for Oak Cliff and your neighborhood nature center!

https://www.bonfire.com/store/twelve-hills-nature-center/

Recycle pumpkins and leaves-Have some left-over pumpkins or bags of leaves? Don't send them to the landfill! Both pumpki...
12/02/2020

Recycle pumpkins and leaves-
Have some left-over pumpkins or bags of leaves? Don't send them to the landfill! Both pumpkins and leaves are great for compost piles. Drop them off with TurnCompost, not Twelve Hills, on Saturday, December 5th at F.A.R,M. 700 S Good Latimer Expy, Dallas, TX 75226 from 9a-11a. @turn @farmingveterans.
Twelve Hills recycles most of our plant waste at Turn Compost-they even pick up in the neighborhood.

At Twelve Hills we eat, drink, and sleep prairie restoration, and now you can too! Well, you can sleep in our t-shirts a...
11/29/2020
Twelve Hills Nature Center | Official Merchandise | Bonfire

At Twelve Hills we eat, drink, and sleep prairie restoration, and now you can too! Well, you can sleep in our t-shirts and drink from our mugs, at least!

Announcing our new fundraiser shop featuring shirts, totes, and mugs with our new logo! Watch for pop-up special designs throughout each season! They make wonderful stocking stuffers and Christmas presents and are a great way to spread the word about Twelve Hills and Blackland Prairie!

https://www.bonfire.com/store/twelve-hills-nature-center/

Established in North Oak Cliff, volunteers have work to restore land back to Blackland Prairie. Explore Twelve Hills: Whether through one of our guided walks or on your...

Happy Thanksgiving!
11/26/2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dirt areas? Why are there so many of these? And why should you stay on the trail and  avoid walking or letting your dog ...
11/23/2020

Dirt areas? Why are there so many of these? And why should you stay on the trail and avoid walking or letting your dog in these areas?
Volunteers remove invasive plants such as bermuda grass and KR Bluestem (brought from Europe and Asia, it spreads aggressively and reduces plant and insect diversity here) before planting a diverse group of Blackland Prairie plants. Look closely to see a myriad of seedlings and young plants growing in the areas that look like dirt! These are the spring flowers!

This fat little two-striped walking stick decided to hitch a ride on the britches of one of our student volunteers at St...
11/21/2020

This fat little two-striped walking stick decided to hitch a ride on the britches of one of our student volunteers at St Cecelias. We thought he’s probably be happier in the long run in the grass than on a middle schooler’s backside.

Thanks for your work on our prairie! We’re really getting it in shape! #prairierestoration #blacklandprairie #insects #walkingstick #walkingaticksinsect

There are a surprising number of nature areas in North Texas. The weather is perfect for hiking-I hope you can visit som...
11/17/2020

There are a surprising number of nature areas in North Texas. The weather is perfect for hiking-I hope you can visit some new places!

Today is National Take a Hike Day! So what are you waiting for? It's a beautiful day! Here is a handy list of North Texas nature parks and the kind of activities and attractions you'll find at each. Enjoy! More about National Take a Hike Day here: https://nationaltoday.com/national-take-a-hike-day

Beautiful photo of sumac taken in the Circular Sees photography arts class at Twelve Hills.
11/16/2020

Beautiful photo of sumac taken in the Circular Sees photography arts class at Twelve Hills.

Look for us today at Twelve Hills Nature Center. We'll be holding our continuing OUTDOOR photography experience for youths. Register online or DM for additional details. Masks required and socially distanced. It's going to be another beautiful Monday at the preserve!

Oh, what a beautiful morning! The air was cool, the sun was warm, and the nature center was peaceful!
11/15/2020

Oh, what a beautiful morning! The air was cool, the sun was warm, and the nature center was peaceful!

11/15/2020

I don’t know that we could have asked for a more gorgeous day to volunteer at Twelve Hills! It was a gorgeous morning for watering, trimming, pickaxing, and planting.

Thank you to every volunteer who came out and did their part! Today was so wonderful, many of the volunteers stayed an extra hour! Talk about dedication!

Last Sunday the North Oak Cliff Troop 6949 came to volunteer with the crew at Twelve Hills! They learned to sow seeds ef...
11/14/2020

Last Sunday the North Oak Cliff Troop 6949 came to volunteer with the crew at Twelve Hills! They learned to sow seeds effectively, how native plants, insects, birds, and other animals interact and depend on each other, and how invasive plants hurt our ecosystem. They also learned why it's important to stay on the trails and out of the developing prairie.

It was their first in-person meet up since March and the girls did a wonderful job staying distanced from each other and everyone wore masks correctly! They asked wonderful questions and were wonderfully knowledgeable about a lot of things. Their moms were great volunteers as well! Thanks Troop 6949 for your service and we hope to see you again!

If you are looking for an outdoor volunteer project, we have workdays from 8:30am to around 11am. Come dressed to work in the dirt and bring your gardening tools, plenty of water, and be prepared to dig, carry, and walk around the prairie. Masks and social distancing are required at all times. Kids are more than welcome if they are able to stay in designated areas or on the trail and if they are able to follow instructions from the leaders.

Circular Sees is hosting a nature photography art class at Twelve Hills on Mondays this fall for children ages 7-11. Cla...
11/07/2020

Circular Sees is hosting a nature photography art class at Twelve Hills on Mondays this fall for children ages 7-11. Class size is limited, so register at the link below! Sessions are $45 each, and supplies are included.

Remember, masks are required and Twelve Hills encourages social distancing. We also require all visitors to stay on the trails for both the safety of our visitors and the safety of our plants and critters. We have many native plants trying to take root, and snakes are trying to get warm in the cooler weather, so encounters are more likely.

Please join CIRCULAR SEES at Twelve Hills Nature Center for a series of PHOTOGRAPHIC ART CLASSES! This project emphasizes students photographing objects in unexpected ways against the lush backdrop of a beautiful preserve. Young artists will use a variety of instant film cameras to photograph these juxtapositions, redirecting the way they see themselves and the world around them.

Days + times listed below. Register through www.circularsees.com Class sessions are $45 each / Includes film packs and props and use of instant cameras. Drop-ins are welcome the day of class if spots are still available. Appropriate for ages 7 - 11.

Please meet at the entrance of the nature center. Parents and students are required to wear masks. Socially distanced with hand sanitizer breaks.

Looking forward to seeing YOU!

What a gorgeous Apache paper wasp! Proof that not all wasps are aggressive! She didn’t mind me snapping pictures while s...
11/04/2020

What a gorgeous Apache paper wasp! Proof that not all wasps are aggressive! She didn’t mind me snapping pictures while she gathered cellulose! While you certainly don’t want to try to touch them or get close to the nest, you don’t have to fear wasps, which are very important pollinators and perform necessary pest control!

#paperwasp #apachepaperwasp #insects #prairies #blacklandprairie #saveourinsects

Our shrubby boneset is a great fall food source for a variety of insects, which I’m turn are a great food source for a v...
11/03/2020

Our shrubby boneset is a great fall food source for a variety of insects, which I’m turn are a great food source for a variety of birds!

How many insects can you name?

#insects #blacklandprairie #prairietestoration #twelvehills #naturecenter #dallas #pocketprairie

Remember spring? Volunteers needed Sunday AM 8:30 to 11:30 AM to plant bluebonnets and get ready for spring!Volunteers w...
10/31/2020

Remember spring? Volunteers needed Sunday AM 8:30 to 11:30 AM to plant bluebonnets and get ready for spring!
Volunteers will follow covid-19 safe protocals including staying far apart (10 feet+) and wearing masks. Bring a shovel, trowel, work gloves and snacks.

Birds need insects and insects need native plants. It’s that simple! Plant native trees, grasses and wildflowers and you...
10/26/2020
New Smithsonian Study Links Declines in Suburban Backyard Birds to Presence of Nonnative Plants

Birds need insects and insects need native plants. It’s that simple! Plant native trees, grasses and wildflowers and you will provide essential food for birds via the insects these plants support.

Insect-eating birds that depend on high-calorie, high-protein cuisine (namely caterpillars and spiders) to feed their young are finding the menu severely lacking in backyards landscaped with even a small proportion of nonnative plants, according to a new study from SCBI.

This week is Native Plant Week, and we're celebrating by sharing some of our favorite plants blooming now at Twelve Hill...
10/21/2020

This week is Native Plant Week, and we're celebrating by sharing some of our favorite plants blooming now at Twelve Hills. Beautiful in the nature center, these featured natives are easy to grow in your home garden, too — adding color and texture throughout the season, all while providing benefit to migrating birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

Frostweed

Today, we have Frostweed, Verbesina virginica. If you want butterflies and bees in your garden, look no further. Migrating monarchs, hairstreaks and all sorts of beneficial bees and wasps love these prolific fall bloomers. Frostweed has large deep green leaves, and does well in shade or part shade (though we've seen it do well in full sun, too!). Drought tolerant, It requires little water and reaches heights of 3-6 feet (sometimes taller). A perennial, Frostweed spreads by rhizomes, and will naturalize readily — forming sizable colonies if allowed. Great as an understory plant and for areas transitioning from manicured to wildscape.

Wondering about the name? When freezing winter weather arrives, the stems split open, releasing ribbons of ice that put on a spectacular display.

+++

Looking to add some natives to your garden? Native plants can be difficult to find at big box stores and commercial nurseries, as many tend to sell non-natives or patented cultivars. Some good local sources to check with are Redenta's, North Haven Gardens, Texas Discovery Gardens (by appointment and through their spring and fall plant sales), and other native plant sales put on by regional gardening groups. The North Central Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas is having their fall native plant sale on October 24th in Arlington. Seeds from a friend are another great option, as are root cuttings taken in the fall.

Frozen frostweed photo courtesy Kristen Nelson, @swaggerprance
Other photos courtesy Amanda Pounds, @amandalbs

Gregg’s blue mist flower is a wonderful native plant that attracts many butterflies, and I great to have for the monarch...
10/18/2020

Gregg’s blue mist flower is a wonderful native plant that attracts many butterflies, and I great to have for the monarch migration in the fall!

They’re easy to grow and would make a wonderful addition to your own personal pocket prairie at home!

#butterfly #monarchbutterfly #monarchmigration #greggsbluemistflower #blacklandprairierairie #nativeplants

Right now birds are beginning their journeys southwards for the winter. Consider turning off your porch lights at night,...
10/08/2020
What You Should Know About Bird Migration and Light Pollution | International Dark-Sky Association

Right now birds are beginning their journeys southwards for the winter. Consider turning off your porch lights at night, or at the very least, putting them on a motion sensor to help birds make that flight south. Here's what International Dark Sky Association and the National Audubon Society have to say about light pollution and bird migration.

https://www.darksky.org/what-you-should-know-about-bird-migration-and-light-pollution/

We are pleased to announce a new partner in the critical work of protecting the night from light pollution: the National Audubon Society. The two organizations are an excellent fit! Encompassed in Audubon’s mission to […]

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817 Mary Cliff Rd
Dallas, TX
75208

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Comments

An incredible, perfect evening at Twelve Hills.
There is a bee of some kind among these flowers. Can someone identify one or the other for me?
Standing Cypress at 6 feet tall.
Shame! You call your selves a nature conservation group. How can that co-exist with the fact that upon having a feral bee colony that needed to be removed qualified bee removal experts volunteered to remove the hive free of charge. Instead Marcie Haley, Twelve Hills Nature Center President decided to call an exterminator instead. Shame! I call for the immediate removal of Marcie Haley from any position with Twelve Hills Nature Center for this egregious action against natural conservation.
So a "nature center" has a hive of bees and rather than having them relocated, you guys call an EXTERMINATOR? Are you insane? Not the "nature center" I would want to visit or support...
Awooooo!
Support local green news and the planet! Register today for the 5th annual Green Source DFW Run for the Environment! The 5K race & fun run kicks off Oak Cliff Earth Day!
September 10, 6-8 pm - Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Candidate Kim Olson - Happy Hour Town Hall – Wax Space at Tyler Station, 1300 S. Polk St. Dallas, TX. Tickets must be obtained and are free at https://events.mobilizeamerica.io/votekimolson/event/10327/ Hosted by Indivisible Oak Cliff What objectives could a Texas Commissioner of Agriculture have? Promoting organic farming? Farmland Conservation? Feeding the children? Improving the distribution network for Texas-grown Products? These objectives are among those proposed by candidate Kim Olson, a retired Colonel and a 4th generation farmer.
Here is another reason to stay on the trail! We noticed this ginormous garden spider tonight. After a quick Google, we realized: Don’t mess with her and she won’t mess with you. On a positive note, she loves bugs!
Thanks, Diane Sherman, for posting this excellent piece about the history ofTwelve Hills, written in 2013! And thanks, author Laurie Valerio and the Oak Cliff Advocate for the thoroughly researched and very interesting article.
Dog (presumed lost) seen at Twelve Hills this morning. Would not come close, was walking around the preserve, away from people. Spread the word!
A great big THANK YOU to the volunteers that keep Twelve Hills clean and B E A Utiful for "thru" hikers. Your efforts are appreciated!