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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 15, 2007

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Wildlife management tax exemption
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live on 10 acres of prairie land near Austin. I want to learn about drying and pressing and gluing and preserving wildflowers as art in pictures and bookmarks and cards. My attempts have failed and faded to bland colors even with a uv spray. Also, is there any grants available to land owners covered in native plants that would benefit us in hopes of paying our property taxes and not losing our 10 acres? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't have any personal experience pressing and drying flowers but can point you to some articles with advice on how to do this and how to minimize fading of the flowers. University of Missouri Extension Service has an article called Drying Flowers and Foliage for Arrangements. Also, Pressed Flowers by Preserved Gardens has a wealth of information and links to many other pressed flower web sites.

Unfortunalely, I don't know of any programs that offer grants, or even tax breaks, just for growing wildflowers. However, growing wildflowers for food for wildlife should qualify as one of the activities required to obtain wildlife management tax exemption for your property. In the Tax Code (Section 23.51 (7)), you can pick "(E) providing supplemental supplies of food" as one of the three ways, of the seven listed, to qualify for Property Tax Exemption for Wildlife Management. The hitch in this, though, is that "the property must have been qualified and appraised as agricultural land during the year before the year the owner changes to Wildlife Management Use." If you do qualify for applying for wildlife management exemption, you can contact the wildlife biologists in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Hill Country Wildlife District, which includes Hays County, for possible assistance in preparing your wildlife management plan.

To help you select the best wildflowers and plants you can visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Deparment's Texas Plant Information Database page where you can search for plants for your county by various attributes (such as "wildlife/livestock food" or "small mammal cover") and their usefulness for "small mammals", "nongame birds", etc.

There are two articles, "Creating a Wildlife Garden" and "Wildlife Gardening Bibliography" in our Native Plant Library that you may find useful.

 

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