TPW Magazine: Exploring Beaumont, Texas

December 19th, 2014


Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.

Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum. Photo by Richard Nowitz.

This is Passport to Texas

Beaumont never seemed like a destination to me. Yet, after reading Sheryl Smith-Rodgers’ article about it in the December issue of TPW Magazine, I’ve reconsidered.

05— I guess I was surprised that there are many museums there.

There’s the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, the Energy Museum, the Fire Museum, the Art Museum of SE Texas, the McFaddin-WardHouse Historic Museum and many others. Plus, there’s good grub.

10 – They have Cajun there since they’re so close to the Louisiana border; Cajun food’s real big there. Seafood – being so close to the Gulf – they have really great seafood.

They have nature, too, and a lot of it, including the Cattail Marsh, a 600-acre manmade wetlands.

30 – It was constructed to treat the effluent from the city’s wastewater treatment plant. But it’s also become a hotspot for birders. They’ve got more than 240 listed bird species there. And, when I was there visiting, just during the course of maybe an hour, it was amazing how many birds that we saw. There’s alligators that have migrated over from the bayou into these wetlands. It’s just a really cool place.

Beaumont. Who knew? Learn more about this town with a little something extra when you read Sheryl Smith-Rodgers Three Days in the Field article called Mixing Oil and Water, in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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

Hunt | Food: Doing your Own Processing

December 18th, 2014


Processing venison at Feral Kitchen

Processing venison.

This is Passport to Texas

Chris Houston of Austin is a hunter and home cook; he butchers and processes what he harvests; but that’s not always been practical.

05—We have a decent sized [kitchen] counter space, but certainly a limited area and limited equipment.

Hunters, says Houston, go to processors because of limited workspace, equipment, and a lack experience. He adds processors are decent folks who provide a good service – but he still wonders what comes back to him.

06—Am I getting back my animal in the sausage? Am I getting all the meat that I had taken in there?

Chris Houston taught himself to butcher and process, and excels at it now. To empower others to do the same, he offers a fully equipped commercial kitchen and his knowledge as Feral Kitchen, a wild food workspace.

23—Butchering and sausage-making tends to feel complicated. However, it can be really simplified. And so, we really want to pass on that education and that confidence to others. We’ve been offering some classes on general game butchering, and some other classes on sausage-making to kind of help people take that step in the learning curve to doing it themselves. And, really, to just try and simplify the entire process.

Learn more about butchering and processing wild game on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and at

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Survey Results to Guide Parks and Communities

December 17th, 2014


Lost Maples State Natural Area, Photo by Amanda Key

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Photo by Amanda Key

This is Passport to Texas

A survey of Texas’ 95 state parks, historic sites and natural areas by Texas A & M University indicates park visitation brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the state’s economy annually.

08—We collected that data at 29 actual park locations, which we then extrapolated to the rest of the parks in the system.

Kevin Good, with state parks, says the survey looked at where survey respondents were from, how long they were visiting the park, and where they spent their money, among other things.

12—Because the economic impact of a visit to a restaurant, perhaps, might be different than spending dollars at a gas station. So, we wanted to see where their money was being left behind in the community.

The agency will use the data for the betterment of parks, their visitors and the communities they serve.

35—Local park management will be able to use it to educate their community on the value of that site, and how the state’s investment in that park actually pays multiple returns to the local community [including job creation]. It will also be used internally to help us evaluate where some parks may need some additional marketing input, or looking at how parks relate with their local community, and to some extent, where perhaps we may need to invest in additional facilities.

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

Parks: Survey Sez Parks are Valuable to Texas

December 16th, 2014


Palmetto State Park

Palmetto State Park

This is Passport to Texas

A recently completed survey of state parks reveals they provide meaningful economic value to Texas and Texans.

24—State parks are a good economic value for Texas. Overall, the state park system had an estimated increase of 774 million in sales to the state economy. That represents value added of 351 million dollars. Overall, that resulted in an additional 202 million dollars into the pockets of Texans.

Texas has 95 parks, historic sites and natural areas, with 91 of those open to the public. Kevin Good, with state parks, says the survey, headed by Dr. John Crompton of Texas A & M University, reveals state parks created 58-hundred jobs statewide.

15—Caprock Canyons, for instance, was estimated to create 14 jobs; now 14 jobs does not sound like a whole lot until you think of the context of Quitaque, Texas, which is a small community in the Panhandle. And that type of impact is certainly noticeable in a small town.

Nearly 4 percent of the Quitaque population earns a living working at Caprock Canyons. Good says parks conserve habitat and history, provide recreational opportunities, and bring money into communities. And the best way to support them?

03—The best way for people to support state parks is to go out and use them.

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

Parks: State Park Ambassadors

December 15th, 2014


State Park Ambassadors at Colorado Bend State Park.

State Park Ambassadors at Colorado Bend State Park.

This is Passport to Texas

Karen Zimmerman loves Texas state parks so much that she became a volunteer state park ambassador. Today she coordinates the program for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

15—The ambassador program is a team of hand-picked, dedicated outreach volunteers that mainly target the young adult demographic, and are just here to spread the word about the benefits of outdoor recreation and everything that Texas State Parks has to offer.

The program casts a wide net, with a particular interest in attracting young adults aged 16 to 28.

07— That demographic makes up 14 percent of the Texas population and only four percent of Texas State Parks visitors…

…thus creating a generational problem in Texas, said Zimmerman.

13—If you don’t go camping as a kid, it’s harder for you to learn to appreciate that as you get older. And, if you make it past that young adult age range without being exposed to how great that can be, then it becomes even harder.

The 16 – 28 age range is the last “entrance point” before possibly losing them altogether. Ambassadors reach out to these young people, speaking their language, using their technology and once they get them to sample the outdoors…

08—State Parks sell themselves. Usually all we have to do is just tell them what’s out there, how easy it is to get there, and how much it costs. Young adults are curious.

Read an in-depth article about the State Park Ambassador program in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

That’s out show. Funding Provided in part by RAM Trucks. Guts…glory…RAM.

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