Archive for March, 2016

The Birding Classic is Back for Year 20

Thursday, March 24th, 2016
Birding Classic Poster 2016

Birding Classic Poster 2016

This is Passport to Texas

Calling all twitchers, listers and dudes…The 20th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic invites you to form a team to watch birds.

 It’s a really great win-win, where people are able to go birding with their friends or family. And then they’re raising money for a really great cause: conservation right here in the state of Texas.

Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager, says teams go into the field and ID bird species from a checklist over the course of a few hours or even a few days. Tournament winners determine which avian habitat conservation projects receive preservation and restoration grants.

And the more habitat we’re able to preserve here in the state, the more birding opportunities there are going to be for birders.

Birders of all ages and skill levels that register at by the April first deadline may participate in this statewide series of tournaments.

Go online. Fill out your registration form. Pay online. And then you’re ready to go. Everything I do is through email: I’m going to email you updates; I’m going to email you how to submit your checklists to be in the running for the prizes; I’m going to let you know who won, where the award ceremonies are. So, it’s all done online to save on costs so as much of this money goes to habitat conservation as possible.

Celebrate 20 years of great birding with The Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 through May 15, is for beginners and advanced birders.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Texas State Parks Official Guide

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016
Texas State Parks Official Guide

Texas State Parks Official Guide

This is Passport to Texas

Most of us are within an hour’s drive of a state park. And when you download the new app for the Texas State Parks Official Guide to your phone or device, your next park getaway is within your reach.

17— It will allow them to do what we call a ‘filtered search’ to find the perfect park for them that they’d like to explore. And we’re hoping that not only will it make people more inclined to discover more parks, but really bring some younger people and more diverse people to the parks. It’s a really exciting resource that we’re now able to offer.

Texas Parks and Wildlife marketing director Darcy Bontempo says not knowing which parks are nearby, or what activities and amenities are available, may keep some folks from visiting parks. The app can change that.

15— This is just going to remove those obstacles and make them feel like they’re the expert on state parks. They can get that information easily and quickly. They can even look at videos of the park. Photos of the park… I think what’s going to be exciting is for people to almost customize the park experience. And that can change. In fall you might want to go hiking, and in summer, you might want to go swimming. It just puts the power right there in your hand in terms of you figuring out where you want to go.

Using the new app—which is available for apple and android devices—you can even create a “favorites list” of parks you’ve visited or want to visit.

07—We’re all about making it as easy as possible for people to get to parks and enjoy parks.

Download the Texas State Parks Official Guide at

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

Volunteer to Count Critters

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

A tarantula visits Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Photo by Cecilia Nasti

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife is recruiting citizen experts to volunteer for biological inventory teams to monitor four species groups on private lands.

We’re wanting to put together teams of experts throughout the state to work within each wildlife district to monitor four groups of species: one for herps, one for plants, one for invertebrates and then, also, one for birds.

Biologist and program coordinator, Marsha May, says the data Biological Inventory Teams collect will become part of the Texas Natural Diversity Database.

That database includes information on rare species throughout the state—their locations—and that information is used by various entities. Well, that database has a lot of holes; we’re hoping to fill in a lot of those holes with information collected by these volunteers.

Anyone with expertise with the previously mentioned species groups may volunteer. Individuals will participate in an orientation, and may choose the counties they wish to work.

We would have a training to give them information on what is expected, what type of monitoring that would be required. The protocol involved each group of species.

Find complete details on volunteering for biological inventory teams on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website under Texas Nature Trackers.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Citizen Scientists Take Biological Inventories

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.

Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.

This is Passport to Texas

With the help of biological inventory teams of citizen scientists, Texas Parks and Wildlife monitors plants… herps…

Which are the amphibians and reptiles…

…birds and invertebrates…

…and that would mainly be: butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, bumblebees and such….

…in Texas’ 8 wildlife districts; Biologist Marsha May oversees the program. She says she’s recruiting experts statewide to join these monitoring teams.

Mostly, we’re looking at hobbyists; people who have joined herp societies. They know their herps. As well as birders. There’re people involved in Audubon Society that know their birds. So those are the types of people [as well as those with expertise in native plants and invertebrates] that we’re looking for, for these projects.

These biological inventory teams will monitor species on private land.

So, my plan is to start with organizing teams throughout the state. And once we get good, solid teams in place, then we’re going to go out there and open it up to the landowners, and let them know that these teams are available to come and do surveys on their property.

Knowing what’s on the land helps landowners become better stewards. Find out how to volunteer when you log visit the Nature Trackers page on the TPW website.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

The Wonder of Wildflowers

Friday, March 18th, 2016
Wildflowers at LBJ State Park

Wildflowers at LBJ State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will be awash in colorful wildflowers soon. Dr. Damon Waitt, former senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and current Director at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, says these and other native plants have a place in the built landscape as well as nature’s landscape.

Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators. They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use. In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment. There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape. That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at

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