Conservation: Tanksley Land Company

July 24th, 2014


This is Passport to Texas

A family ranch since the 1920s, the Tanksley Land Company’s goal is to leave their 25-thousand acre property in Far West Texas in better shape than they found it.

05— It’s all about water out here: preserving and directing it to your benefit.

1989 when Betty and her late husband Ben took over management, creosote and tarbush dominated the landscape; grasses and water were scarce.

16—Ben’s vision was to preserve water and to direct the water to the benefit of the ranch. He was building some small dams and
some large dams and did a lot of what we call divots. Little small defilades.

These methods supported better water infiltration and runoff capture, and also created numerous small oases of green grass and forbs for wildlife. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mike Janis says the Tanksley’s innovative management helped them win a regional Lone Star Land Steward Award.

18—We’re recognizing the Tanksleys for this award not because they did a great job implementing lots of things that we recommended at Parks and Wildlife. The roles are really kind of flipped in this situation. We’ve been able to take things we’ve learned that Ben was willing to try and share that information with other landowners who are interested in accomplishing similar goals.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and provides funding for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Programs.

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

Conservation/Food: Eating Bugs to Save the World

July 23rd, 2014

A handful of roasted crickets. Photo by Cecilia Nasti.

A handful of roasted crickets. Photo by Cecilia Nasti.



This is Passport to Texas

Experts predict the world’s population will increase to nine billion people by 2050. That’s two billion more mouths to feed. And Robert Nathan Allen says an eco-friendly protein to help nourish the masses is insects.

07— Compared to say a cow, where we can only really eat about forty percent of the cow, with insects; we can eat most if not all of them.

Allen founded the nonprofit Little Herds to educate the public about insects as a nutritious alternative food source. Insects are high in protein and rich in fiber and micronutrients. Currently 70% of agricultural land supports meat production, which limits the industry’s future growth.

15—So, with insects, we can raise them in a modular fashion vertically on a fraction of the land as traditional livestock, with a fraction of the water, with a fraction of the feed, and end up with more nutritional valuable protein.

It’s a huge leap from eating burgers to bugs. For the brave ones, Allen recommends obtaining edible insects from farms that raise them for human consumption.

11—That way we can assure that they’re raised in a hygienic, safe, clean environment. We can make sure that there’s no risk of diseases and parasites, and we can make sure tht they’re eating a clean, wholesome diet.

According to a UN report, over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects. Intrigued? Learn more about edible insects at littleherds.org.

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

Wildlife/Food: Eating Insects

July 22nd, 2014

Robert Nathan Allen, founder of Little Herds, with a container of roasted crickets at McKinney Falls State Park, photo by Cecilia Nasti.

Robert Nathan Allen, founder of Little Herds, with a container of roasted crickets at McKinney Falls State Park, photo by Cecilia Nasti.



This is Passport to Texas

Bugs have a way of showing up just as you unpack your picnic. But what if you welcomed their presence? No, not as guests… as snacks.

04— They really do have a crunch [crunches]; really similar to roasted nuts.

That’s Robert Nathan Allen, who was just then crunching a toasted cricket. He’s founder of the Austin, Texas based nonprofit Little Herds (www.littleherds.org).

08—And we focus primarily educating the public and particularly children about edible insects and why and how we can adopt them into
our diet.

We call eating insects as food Entomophagy; it’s commonplace among 80% of the world’s population. But we westerners steer clear.

19—Once western societies started becoming very agriculturally based, particularly in northern climates, it just became ingrained in our society that insects are dirty. And so, that idea has continued to be passed down generation to generation in these western cultures. Whereas in the tropical environments where the habit has continued, it’s just another food source.

The thing is, we already eat more than 400 insects a year without knowing it. Allen says by intentionally swapping insect protein for animal protein we can feed ourselves and help the environment. That’s tomorrow.

We record our series at The Block House in Austin, Texas, and Joel Block engineers our program…

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

Camping: Affordable Family Fun

July 21st, 2014

Family Camping in Texas

Family Camping in Texas



This is passport to Texas

Before the school bell rings for the fall semester (it’s closer than you think) gather the family for a camping getaway—or two. With parks in every region of Texas, your destination is only a short drive away.

Most state parks have campgrounds, and some of those have water and electric hook-ups. Several parks also accommodate RVs for those who wish to bring the comfort of home with them to the great outdoors. Before hitting the road, though, check to see if RV connections
are available at your chosen park’s campsites.

For the pampered camper, check out state parks that offer cabins and lodges. Historic landmarks and secluded ranches make for a relaxing getaway.

When tent camping, remember to properly dispose of food waste to discourage unwanted animals visitors; and always pack out what you pack in.

Another reminder: you are not just a visitor, you are part of the natural world, and as such, it is your responsibility to keep it healthy and inviting to others. Play nice.

If you’ve never been camping before, and feel somewhat unprepared for what’s ahead, go on and sign up for one of our Texas Outdoor Family workshops. TPW staff will school your family on outdoor basics in a fun-filled weekend. Class is in session.

Find more outdoor opportunities at texasstateparks.org.

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

Wildlife: Become a Bumblebee Watcher

July 18th, 2014

Texas Bumblebee Poster, Mike Warriner

Texas Bumblebee Poster, Mike Warriner



This is Passport to Texas

Do you like the idea of bird watching, but don’t have the patience to learn about every bird species? Then, maybe you should try bumblebee watching, instead.

12— Bumblebees could be a new kind of hobby for folks. Birdwatchers have to learn hundreds of birds. There are only nine bumblebees [species] in Texas. And so it’s just a matter of learning their color patterns.

Michael Warriner is an invertebrate biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, and curates the website texasbumblebees.com.

18— In Texas, we have nine bumblebee species. And, fortunately, bumblebees are large bees; they’re pretty noticeable because they have a pattern of black and yellow. But, each one of the nine differs a little bit in terms of how much yellow they have on – let’s say – on the front part of their body versus the rear….

Tracking these insects – and reporting back to biologists like Warriner – can provide needed information about the status of bumblebees in Texas. What you may not know is …these native bees are facing threats.

16—They’ve lost habitat. Pesticide use is another concern. And also, there’s been the importation of bumblebees from Europe into this country, which has brought in parasites and diseases that may be impacting them. So, there’s a lot of concern how they’re faring in North America.

Find a chart on bumblebee identification and where to report sightings at Texasbumblebees.com.

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