Shangri La’s Future
With its spring 2008 opening, Shangri La has the resources and mandate to become an outstanding botanical garden and nature center. With its goal of Platinum certification in LEED-NC achieved, Shangri La will continue to practice what its staff preaches and to teach what its staff practices to a variety of audiences.
In September 2005, Hurricane Rita wreaked havoc on Southeast Texas, including Shangri La. The Category 3 hurricane furiously blasted wind gusts of 167 miles per hour and straight-line winds of more than 120 miles per hour, destroying more than 30,000 trees in Shangri La. In an effort to restore Shangri La and the entire area, the facility has and continues to strive towards ecological restoration. Immediately after the storm, with assistance from Temple Inland, Orange, a reforestation was commenced with the planting of more than 15,000 Longleaf Yellow Pines. This effort will continue through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in which an additional 4,000 native trees will be planted in Shangri La during the winter of 2007-2008. Mother Nature will make the largest impact on this effort as she begins the process of plant succession in Shangri La, adding thousands of new plants and increasing the biodiversity of Shangri La significantly.
Invasive Species Removal
One facet of ecological restoration is the removal of invasive species, including Chinese tallow tree, Chinese privet, and water hyacinth. This process entails removing invasive species and replanting with native plants that thrive in the native environment. Native plants contribute a tremendous amount to the area while requiring fewer resources to maintain, making this process beneficial not only to all native wildlife but also to the community.