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Deer Park prairie saved from development

Grass-roots campaign

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Hours before the deadline, grass-roots organizers successfully raised the $4 million needed to preserve a 50-acre coastal prairie in Deer Park, according to The Houston Chronicle:

After a frenzied monthlong blitz to save the Deer Park prairie, a pristine 50-acre example of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, conservationists announced Tuesday that they had met their goal with a matter of hours to spare.

In the end, it took donations from more than 1,000 people to acquire what conservationists call a “platinum-quality” example of coastal prairie - a place populated by pocket gophers, meadowlarks and more than 300 species of native plants.

“It is truly a grass-roots effort,” said Jennifer Lorenz, executive director of the Bayou Land Conservancy, which led the effort to raise $4 million.

The prairie will be called the Lawther Deer Park Prairie, after the Lawther family.

“My family has been in the development business in Deer Park for 60 years,” said property owner Dean Lawther of Lawther Custom Homes. “It gives me great pleasure to conserve this land.”

Amateur prairie hunters discovered the perfectly preserved patch of land near the intersection of Spencer and Luella two years ago. Conservationists began raising money to buy it from Lawther for $4 million, but the area’s hot housing market moved faster. This summer, he received a significantly higher offer from another developer who planned to build a subdivision. Lawther gave the conservationists an August deadline, then allowed them a three-week extension when they fell short. Time would have run out at midnight Tuesday.

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