LITTLE THICKET NATURE SANCTUARY A MONUMENT tO CONCERNED FORESIGHT
The Outdoor Nature Club of Houston, the Oldest conservation group in the state, in
1951 signed final papers and assumed ownership of some wooded acreage in San Jacin+o
County. The Club's aim was +o make 1+ a Sanctuary for native plants, birds, animals,
etc. By I960 three adjoining pieces of property had been added through gifts, and
approximately a mile square section of wooded land had been preserved for future
generations fo enjoy. And not just woods, for there are several meadows where
native grasses and wild flowers are encouraged to grow. When we read predictions
for the future of our land such as the preceding address by Chandler Robbins, we can
be justly proud of the foresight and concern for conservation shown by the Outdoor
Nature Club. On our next Visitors' Day, come to the Sanctuary and look around you
with fresh eyes as you think what our great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren have in store for them In this oasis of natural beauty In their crowded world.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO SHELDON WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA?
Recently the SPOONBILL Editor asked readers to check on Sheldon Reservoir, a part
of the Sheldon Wildlife Management Area, a once-desirable birding spot, well-remembered, and recommended by the Tveten-Lane Guide. The repor+s have been disheartening +o say +he least.
Once well kept, a haven for wintering waterfowl, geese, etc., and a local fishing
spot good enough to attract fishermen in numbers enough to support a bait house near
by, Sheldon Reservoir has deteriorated to an unkemp, overgrown area, with fluctuating water level, that is unattractive to birds, birders, fish and fishermen. And
all this while it is still being called a Wildlife Management Area, with the same
manager, but with less personnel.
The Edi+or learned +ha+ the water level must be kept at least 18" below the dam because of a worsening of the condition of the dam. Therefore, when sudden rains cause
a heavy influx of water, the level is quickly lowered, and then we apparently have
a water level too low until it rains again.
This area, frankly, is rather small to be considered of great value to wintering
geese, and too small for hunting, though crops were once raised (and may yet be) so
as to attract them. But the Reservoir once attracted great numbers of waterfowl
(the Edi+or saw her first Hooded Merganser there, a gorgeous sight she will never
forget, plus her first Whistling Swans). Several years ago the water level was
lowered drastically, and we heard conflicting reasons for It, such as the Fisheries
Laboratory wanted fo get rid of trash fish....the Reservoir was getting weed-overgrown, e+c. The area has never recovered. The shallow parts on the Garrett Road
side became overgrown with rattlebeans and other growth, the restrooms on the peninsula fronting Garrett Road were allowed to deteriorate, and it Is all disappointing!
There have been rumors for many years of the impending sale of this area (It is beir,
rapidly surrounded by development .residential. Industrial, athletic fields, etc.)
and there is no doubt it is valuable property. But this was bought with Pit+man-
Robinson Funds, we understand, and there are stringent restrictions on the sale of
it by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. In the Houston metropolitan area we
see more and more desirable habitat being lost to development, with private property
farms, e+c, being covered wl+h creeping concrete. We hope this won't happen here.
In an effort to dispell rumors and end useless speculations, THE SPOONBILL Editor Is
writing the executive director of Texas Parks & Wildlife and the State Representative of the area in which Sheldon Wildlife Management Area 11esy expressing the concern of some of the members of the Ornithology Group of +he Outdoor Nature Club, and
asking for a status report. Such a report should help to clarify the situation for
WHAT'IN A NAME?
We've had many Anna's hummers on the UTC this winter, but how many of you know for
whom this hummer was named? Lesson, the eminent French naturalist, named this species in honor of Anna de Belle Massena, wife of Prince Victor Massena, Due de Rivoli,
a collector of specimens, especially of hummingbirds. Audubon met her In Paris in
1828, and described her as "a beautiful young woman, not more than twenty, extremely
graceful and polite".