Rosenberg’s “secret” park growing into science & nature haven

By Betsy Dolan 

Carol Pawelek and Karl Baumgartner, Texas Master Naturalists with the Coastal Prairie Chapter, enjoy the view from the Wetlands ecosystem at Seabourne Creek Park in Rosenberg.

In the movie “The Big Year”, birders travel all over the world competing to capture the most bird sightings in 365 days.  Seabourne Creek Nature Park in Rosenberg, may soon be the “go-to” spot for those looking to get a head start on their Big Year since the wetlands lake was filled June 30.

One hundred fifty species of birds have been identified at the park in the last two years including some that are rare for Fort Bend County like green kingfishers, bobwhite quail, and black-necked stilts. This past spring, four Coopers hawks hatched but only three survived.

The park, near the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, has been quietly undergoing a metamorphosis thanks to sweat equity from the Texas Master Naturalists, a volunteer arm of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and funding from the Rosenberg Development Council.  The goal is to create a nature park that not only allows residents the chance to be outdoors but also provides learning opportunities and wildlife viewing.

The concept has been slow to take root.  The city first acquired the 368 acres in 1993 and built the Rosenberg Civic Center and a sports complex.  The lake and other infrastructure was funded by a grant from the Texas Department of Wildlife in 1994 but the majority of the 164-acre park site languished for 15-years.

The Coastal Prairie Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, became involved in 2009 when the City of Rosenberg decided to commit to a 20-year vision for the park.

Since then over 200 trees have been planted, walking trails have been established, picnic areas built with help from local Scout troops, non-native plant species are being replaced by native ones, a butterfly garden was planted, signs erected and the wetlands pond was finally filled with water in time for this fall’s migration.

“The first time around the pond was improperly constructed and never held water,” Karl Baumgartner with the Texas Master Naturalists said.  “We experimented with layering the pond with black clay from the prairie eco-system and the pond finally held water.”

With the completion of the wetlands pond, the park now has four eco-systems including a lake, a wooded area, a 20-acre natural prairie and the wetlands.  There are also plans to build a Nature Center on the site as part of a bond referendum this fall.

Baumgartner hopes that in time school groups will visit the park and he is optimistic it will be included on the Gulf Coast birding trail.

“The potential here is unbelievable,” Baumgartner said.  “We have this huge area with a very diverse habitat in an urban setting. The opportunity to experience nature close to home is such an asset for Southwest Houston.”

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