Volunteers from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Shell Oil Co. and Apache Corporation on Feb. 6-7 will be planting almost 300 trees at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site as part of an ongoing prairie restoration project.
Live oaks, shumard oaks, cedar elms and loblolly pines will be among 280 trees planted on part of the 110-acre of tall-grass prairie being restored to its 1836 look to help visitors visualize the battleground as it would have appeared during the Battle of San Jacinto, which secured Texas’ freedom from Mexico.
The trees will be planted in a 100-yard wide strip within a four-acre area to serve as a visual buffer between the battlefield and neighboring petroleum industry facilities. A similar number of trees will be planted next year to complete a planned seven-acre buffer. Funding for the trees came from Apache Corporation.
The tall prairie grasses and trees were critical to the outcome of the battle, allowing the greatly outnumbered Texans to go undetected in a surprise attack on Gen. Santa Anna’s encamped Mexican force. While portions of the battleground retain the same tall grasses that helped hide Gen. Sam Houston’s Texan troops as they approached on April 21, 1836, the planting area had grown over with Chinese tallow trees and other invasive species.
The new trees will replace the invasive species cleared last fall from portions of the battlefield that was seeded with native grasses and flowers. The restored tall-grass prairie serves as habitat for such prairie-dependent wildlife as marsh hawks and meadow larks, which are often seen by visitors.
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark and the location of the culminating military event of the Texas Revolution. There is no entry fee for the site and it is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.