Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Taking Texas Rivers on the Road

Friday, May 26th, 2017
Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve fished, paddled or even picnicked along a Texas river, you know how special they are. Take that appreciation on the road with a new Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

It’s a really beautiful view of a Hill Country river with a kayaker and a fly angler off in the distance. It’s just a really scenic landscape that points to the values that we all have for Texas rivers and rivers in general.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist.

There are all these different aesthetic, and ecological and recreational and economic values tied to rivers, whether it’s water supply, or flood abatement, or bank, wade or kayak fishing. Tubing. You name it. There are reasons we value rivers. And Parks and Wildlife works to conserve Texas rivers.

Fish and wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and bank access for recreational use. The new Texas Rivers conservation plate helps to support it all.

The sale of the license plate will generate $22 for the department for every plate sold. And, that’s non-federal funding that’s really important in matching federal grants that we’ve been able to tap to support these programs. So, if you love Texas rivers, you can show your support, and support of Parks and Wildlife’s river conservation programs by purchasing a plate.

Find the Texas Rivers conservation plate and how the money’s spent at conservationplate.org.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Texas River Access

Thursday, May 25th, 2017
Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

This is Passport to Texas

Legal access to Texas Rivers can be challenging.

Texas is a private land state. Over 95% of the land in the state is privately owned, and that’s reflected in ownership of banks along rivers.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s paddling trails program works with communities to create access to some of the 191,000 miles of Texas Rivers. Currently, we have 70 trails in the system.

Seventy trails, 191,000 miles of rivers—that’s a drop in the bucket. There are lots of high quality river segments that aren’t accessible because of this preponderance of private lands ownership. So, we look for opportunities to bring landowners into the mix, and provide a win-win scenario where we can provide a cost share arrangement; provide payments to landowners to lease private lands for public access to rivers. And this is real similar to our public hunting program that we’ve had in place for years.

This partnership with local landowners allows Texans to more fully enjoy the natural beauty that our rivers have to offer.

We began leasing these private lands for access to bank, wade and kayak fishing in 2012. And now, we’re up to 19 different lease-access sites statewide on 10 different rivers.

Texas Parks and Wildlife seeks landowners with riverfront property strategically positioned to expand current Texas Padding Trails, connect to parks, or provide connections to other public river access areas. Find program details on the TPW website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

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.