Gardening with Natives

April 25th, 2017
Native plants attract pollinators.

Native plants attract pollinators.

This is Passport to Texas

Everyone loves instant color when planting flowers and shrubs, but plants provide more than visual appeal.

Usually they are producing fruits or nectar, some kind of food source that’s desirable.

Botanist, Dana Price, says our choice of plants can affect Texas wildlife that depends on them.

A lot of them are host plants for our native butterflies and monarchs; some of them are good hummingbird nectar sources. Many of them have berries that are good for birds. Native trees are hosts for all kinds of insects that are in turn food for our native birds.

Native plants also serve us by providing low-maintenance upkeep, even in the harshest conditions—such as last year’s heat wave and drought.

Our native plants are very well adapted to the climate in Texas, which yes is very extreme a lot of times.

Planting and maintaining native vegetation for wildlife is called Wildscaping. The goal is to provide places for birds, small mammals, and other wildlife to feed and drink, and escape from predators, as well as raise their young.

Find more information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series, and funds conservation work in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

The Dark Skies of Texas

April 24th, 2017
South Llano River Light Pollution Map. The park is at the crosshairs.

South Llano River Light Pollution Map. The park is at the crosshairs.


This is Passport to Texas

An International Dark Sky Park is similar to a wildlife refuge. But instead of providing protection and habitat for animal species to thrive, these parks and surrounding communities protect the ebony backdrop of the night sky so stars can shine bright for our enjoyment.

Texas welcomed South Llano State Park, located outside of Junction, as its third International Dark Sky Park. It joins Copper Breaks State Park in the Panhandle and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in the Hill Country.

Five miles from the nearest town, South Llano River State Park ranks as a “3” on the Bortle [Dark Sky] Scale, which ranks skies from 1 to 9. One includes the darkest skies and nine the least dark. The darkness at South Llano River State Park provides visitors with a spectacular view of the stars.

Regular Dark Sky programming, such as star parties will be hosted throughout the year at the park. It’s where visitors can learn about the importance of dark skies to wildlife and people. It also allows the public to view the night sky, celestial objects and constellations free from light pollution.

For more information on the dark skies at Texas State Parks, visit the dark skies program page on the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Step Softly and Look Out for Diamondbacks

April 21st, 2017
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is Passport to Texas

Now that spring is in full swing, you’ll spend more time outdoors. When you do, my advice is to literally watch your step.

Probably most people who spend any amount of time hiking in Texas have been within arm’s reach of a diamondback and never knew it.

Andy Gluesenkamp is a herpetologist [and Director of Conservation at the San Antonio Zoo]. Don’t let what he just said about the big, scary venomous Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which happens to be deadliest snake in North America, keep you locked up indoors.

Diamondbacks would by and large much prefer to avoid contact than get in some sort of fisticuffs with a large animal like a human.

These snakes play defense. They usually hang out in the vicinity of fallen logs, brush piles, and rocks. If they think you don’t see them, they’ll lie perfectly still and let you do a Dionne Warwick and walk on by.

If they feel threatened by you, the first thing that they’ll do is buzz that rattle. On rare occasions when somebody reaches their hands into a crevice, or is picking up firewood and grabs a snake or steps on a snake—then they’re going to react violently. And that’s when people tend to get bitten.

So, avoid doing what he said. You’ll be glad you did, or rather, didn’t. Find more information about snakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

Support for Passport to Texas comes from the Wildlife Restoration program…working to restore native habitat in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Putting Texas Wildlife on the Map

April 20th, 2017
Prairies and Pineywoods West map segment

Prairies and Pineywoods West map segment

This is Passport to Texas

Now you can drive on the wild side of our state’s prairies and forests using two newly updated Great Texas Wildlife Trail maps.

The updates of the Prairies and Pineywoods East and West maps mark the completion of the entire collection of wildlife trail maps, which feature more than 920 wildlife-viewing sites all across our great state.

There are nine wildlife trail maps in all, and each invites nature lovers like you to discover the best of Texas’ native wildlife no matter where you are in the state.

In addition to physical copies of the maps, interactive maps are available online to explore various regions.

Each regional map details several smaller trail loops for easy driving trips throughout Texas.

The maps list contact information, entry fees and operating hours for attractions along the trails.

To view all nine Great Texas Wildlife Trails maps or to purchase a printed map, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The new wildlife maps were made possible in part from the support of a number of sponsors, including the Wildlife Diversity Conservation License Plate Program.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Celebrating a Pivotal Moment in Texas History

April 19th, 2017
Reenactment

Battle of San Jacinto Battle Reenactment

This is Passport to Texas

The Battle of San Jacinto was a game changer in Texas History. On April 21, 1836, an untrained Texian militia routed General Santa Ana’s troops.

The actual battle lasted less than half an hour; it carried on into the evening with clean up. But the main assault and the main fighting was done in less than half an hour.

Justin Rhodes is Region Four Director for State Parks, which includes the San Jacinto Battlegrounds in LaPorte. On Saturday, April 22th, the historic site celebrates this momentous battle with a reenactment and festival.

If you’re planning on coming out, I would recommend you arrive early when the crowds are low. That will give you plenty of time to visit the festival and get set up for the reenactment. The reenactment will occur only once during the day.

And that happens around 3 p.m. Rhodes hopes visitors leave with renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made on the battlefield in 1836.

Ultimately we want visitors to take away an appreciation of the significance of the site, the event, the history tht brought us to where we are today. So much of what we do today and tomorrow is based on lessons from the past – from the sacrifices that these men and women brought forward. They teach us valuable life lessons moving into the future.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The reenactment is at 3 p.m. details at texasstateparks.org.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.