Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Government Canyon: The Nearby Wilderness

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017
Government Canyon

One of the many wild spaces at Government Canyon State Natural Area.

This is Passport to Texas

Comprised of more than 12-thousand acres of mostly undeveloped land, Government Canyon State Natural Area, outside of San Antonio, is not a state park.

Although we’re part of the Texas State Park system—we’re actually a natural area. So, our focus is primarily natural and cultural resource management. However, we do provide recreational opportunities here. We have about 40 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Superintendent Chris Holm says guests experience something entirely unique when they visit the site.

It is a unique experience, as we’re so close to the city of San Antonio. But yet, when you get out here and start hiking or biking into what we call the backcountry area, you think you’re out in the great wilderness of the North or something.

Open for visitation Friday through Monday only, Government Canyon frequently reaches maximum site occupancy on weekends.

Almost every weekend we’ll have a capacity closure because we get too many people coming out. We want people to experience Government Canyon. We want them to develop a love of the place. Stewardship. But at the same time we don’t want it to be destroyed [from overuse]. And, so, there’s a balancing act.

Tuesdays through Thursdays, site staff focus on resource management. There’s more info on Government Canyon at texasstateparks.org.

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

Green Habits to Begin This Earth Day

Monday, April 17th, 2017
Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day every day.


This is Passport to Texas

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment…and thus began the annual celebration of the planet called Earth Day.

2017 marks the 47th Anniversary of Earth Day, and millions of people worldwide are gearing up for it. It’s more important now than ever before to take personal responsibility for the care of our environment.

What kinds of things can you do to pay it forward for Mother Earth? Pick up and dispose of trash you find in parks or other public places. That’s simple. Plant native plants that use less water; they also provide food and shelter for wildlife. You could always properly dispose of monofilament fishing line so it doesn’t harm aquatic life.

When camping, leave your campsite in better shape than you found it. Or, your stewardship goal might be to spend time with your family outdoors instead of inside with the television—because a butt print in the sofa cushion offers no value to nature.

Mix it up, and regularly add new earth friendly activities to your list. As for me, I am going to do better with respect to composting kitchen waste and repurpose newspaper and cardboard as a weed barrier in my garden beds.

What will you do?

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

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

TPW TV – Prescribed Fire

Monday, April 10th, 2017
Ignition operations on an RX-burn at the Matador WMA. Image: Verble Fire Ecology Lab.

Ignition operations on an RX-burn at the Matador WMA. Image: Verble Fire Ecology Lab.

This is Passport to Texas

The Matador Wildlife Management Area offers vistas of colorful rolling plains and canyons. Texas Parks and Wildlife maintains the beauty and balance of this 28-thousand acre natural landscape with the regular use of an ancient tool.

Right now they are preparing to light a test fire. It gives us a pretty good indication of what the fire behavior is going to be like. And since it’s a test, if it doesn’t work out, we can put the fire out and go for it another day.

Chris Schenck is part of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s prescribed fire crew. A segment about prescribed fire airs next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Team member, Derreck Holdsctock, says fire is an important, natural process.

Whenever you don’t have fire brush encroaches. The more brush there is, the higher the fire danger is going to be during a dry year. So the more fire you put on the ground the less the effects of a wildfire will be and the more controllable it will be.

Prescribed fire has many jobs. It knocks back invasive plants, returns nutrients to the soil, and promotes native species, creating a balance of cover and forage for wildlife.

Every time we do a fire I feel like we’re taking a big chunk out of our management of that area. And then when you come back three months later and you have all this tall grass and you have all the wildflowers out there, it just kind of brings it all together and you realize what you’ve accomplished.

Catch the segment on Prescribed Fires this week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Wildflowers for Truth and Beauty

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will soon  be awash in colorful wildflowers. Dr. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the natural and built landscapes.

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 wildflower.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.

NOTE: Due to the rain and warm weather, spring wildflowers started popping out about a month earlier than usual. So get out there soon to enjoy them before they’re gone.

Plight of the Bumblebee

Friday, March 10th, 2017
American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas has nine native bumblebee species. Loss of habitat to agriculture, use of pesticides, as well as European honeybees competing for food, threatens these important pollinators.

And so if we have a reduction in bumblebees, that spells trouble for our ecosystems.

Michael Warriner, an invertebrate biologist, says because Texas bumblebees have evolved with native flora as pollinators, fewer native bees would eventually translate to fewer native plants, which would impact other living things…

The birds and the mammals and other insects that depend on plants for fruit, or seeds, or just the functioning ecosystem.

While we give non-native European honeybees credit for pollinating our food crops, in some instances, bumblebees outperform them.

14—Bumblebees, although they aren’t talked about a lot as important pollinators, they’re much better and more efficient than honeybees. They’re the best pollinators for things like tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, melons, and those sorts of crops.

You can find more bumblebee on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

11—And if you’re interested in being a bumblebee watcher, check out the website, and if you see any bumblebees in your garden, just send in photos. We’re really trying to learn how bumblebees are doing.

That’s our show for today…the Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti