Conservation at Fischer Park
As a 62-acre public space, Fischer Park became New Braunfels’s largest park when it opened in May 2015. In an area landlocked by businesses and rapidly expanding subdivisions, Fischer Park provides not only kid-enticing amenities expected of today’s public parks but reserves over 30-acres, about half of the park’s acreage, as native prairie. New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) contracted with Native American Seed of Junction, Texas, to do a site visit and map the restoration plan. That plan is being implemented over several years and includes removal of invasive species. Lindheimer Master Naturalists and Lindheimer Native Plant Society of Texas members are among volunteers working with PARD to accomplish various associated tasks. Native American Seed is also scheduled to do periodic visits which will ensure maximum timeliness of species removal and replanting. The restoration of a 30-plus acre blackland prairie of native plants in the heart of New Braunfels and less than a mile off Interstate 35 is remarkable. Long-term, the prairie will also stabilize soil, lessen erosion, and should only increase in importance as a true environmental asset for the New Braunfels community.
Retention of 30 plus acres as native blackland prairie is an important contribution to Central Texas, a significant migratory pathway for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Preservation of these open spaces provides critical habitat for migrating birds. For over a decade, the local Audubon Society has included this area in its annual bird counts. Nearby huisache trees have been managed to retain pollinators’ access yet reduce disruption of nearby trails. Introduction of native plants provide food sources for birds and other wildlife and require less water to maintain.
Ponds originally dredged by the Fischer Family were also retained and now serve as a wetland area. Fischer Park’s ponds permit a now protected wetland habitat for avian species. Certainly fishing is important and the ponds provide a safe place for young anglers to practice their art, although a critical value of these ponds is perhaps not apparent. The ponds are monitored by TCEQ and Citizen Scientist groups thereby providing data on effluent discharge in a highly developed residential area of New Braunfels that is also a wetland preserve.
Additionally, at least four different ecosystems converge in the general area. Those include: Blackland Prairie, Post Oak Savanah, the Edwards Plateau, and South Texas Plains. Fischer Park is becoming, in a sense, a living repository for plant species unique to these ecoregions. This act of conservation is important not only for the plants but critical for the creatures migrating the Central Texas flyway. The addition of a fenced butterfly garden, home to over 150 nectar and larval host plants, is both an educational and conservation measure. Fischer Park is recognized as a Monarch Waystation.
Fischer Park is home to a Monarch Waystation pollinator/butterfly garden. Our garden is used for demonstration, community involvement, classes, educational field trips, children’s nature camps, guided and self-guided walking tours. New Braunfels is an important stop on the migration path for Monarch Butterflies, The Fischer Park butterfly garden helps to protect the species for future generations.
The demonstration garden provides an incredible visual example for our visitors and showcases host and nectar plants for Monarchs, Queens, Gulf Fritillaries, and many other kinds of butterflies. Guests are able to stroll through the garden daily to observe a practical demonstration of native gardening that attracts indigenous plants, wildlife, and insects. Hand-crafted butterfly benches allow a place to rest and observe natural pollination taking place. A large bird feeding trough attracts native birds and allows guests to birdwatch. Native berry-producing plants provide refuge and resources for native wildlife in the winter when resources can be scarce, and larval plants provide a haven for butterflies to lay eggs and caterpillars to feed.