Archive for the 'State Parks' Category

The Dark Skies of Texas

Monday, April 24th, 2017
South Llano River Light Pollution Map. The park is at the crosshairs.

South Llano River Light Pollution Map. The park is at the crosshairs.


This is Passport to Texas

An International Dark Sky Park is similar to a wildlife refuge. But instead of providing protection and habitat for animal species to thrive, these parks and surrounding communities protect the ebony backdrop of the night sky so stars can shine bright for our enjoyment.

Texas welcomed South Llano State Park, located outside of Junction, as its third International Dark Sky Park. It joins Copper Breaks State Park in the Panhandle and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in the Hill Country.

Five miles from the nearest town, South Llano River State Park ranks as a “3” on the Bortle [Dark Sky] Scale, which ranks skies from 1 to 9. One includes the darkest skies and nine the least dark. The darkness at South Llano River State Park provides visitors with a spectacular view of the stars.

Regular Dark Sky programming, such as star parties will be hosted throughout the year at the park. It’s where visitors can learn about the importance of dark skies to wildlife and people. It also allows the public to view the night sky, celestial objects and constellations free from light pollution.

For more information on the dark skies at Texas State Parks, visit the dark skies program page on the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

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.

Celebrating a Pivotal Moment in Texas History

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
Reenactment

Battle of San Jacinto Battle Reenactment

This is Passport to Texas

The Battle of San Jacinto was a game changer in Texas History. On April 21, 1836, an untrained Texian militia routed General Santa Ana’s troops.

The actual battle lasted less than half an hour; it carried on into the evening with clean up. But the main assault and the main fighting was done in less than half an hour.

Justin Rhodes is Region Four Director for State Parks, which includes the San Jacinto Battlegrounds in LaPorte. On Saturday, April 22th, the historic site celebrates this momentous battle with a reenactment and festival.

If you’re planning on coming out, I would recommend you arrive early when the crowds are low. That will give you plenty of time to visit the festival and get set up for the reenactment. The reenactment will occur only once during the day.

And that happens around 3 p.m. Rhodes hopes visitors leave with renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made on the battlefield in 1836.

Ultimately we want visitors to take away an appreciation of the significance of the site, the event, the history tht brought us to where we are today. So much of what we do today and tomorrow is based on lessons from the past – from the sacrifices that these men and women brought forward. They teach us valuable life lessons moving into the future.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The reenactment is at 3 p.m. details at texasstateparks.org.

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

They Fought to Preserve a Way of Life

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
The Battle of San Jacinto

The Battle of San Jacinto

This is Passport to Texas

Six weeks after the fall of the Alamo General Sam Houston’s Texas army took less than 30 minutes to overpower Santa Ana’s militia, at what is now the San Jacinto Battleground.

San Jacinto is such a special place. It’s where we won our Texas independence. It’s where many scholars will argue that the history for not just Texas, but more so the United States — and even the world — was set with the Texian army winning that battle on April 21, 1836.

Justin Rhodes is the Region Four Director for State Parks, which includes the San Jacinto.

It’s interesting to sit down and talk to other historians and hear the “what ifs.” What if Texas did not win? Where would we be? Where would the United States be? Where would the world be without that victory that day? You know, where the battle occurred is right on – now – the Houston Ship Channel, which is one of the busier ports in the world.

The Texian Army was a rag tag crew of untrained men, battling against Santa Anna’s professional soldiers. Fighting on their home turf to preserve the lives they’d worked to achieve spurred them to victory.

Any time someone tries to take something that’s near and dear to your heart, you’re going to have that spirit that flows through to make you fight that much harder. And that was the backbone of the Texian army.

Celebrating the victory at San Jacinto is tomorrow.

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

Paddle-in Campsites on Devils River

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017
The Devils River

The Devils River

This is Passport to Texas

The 37-thousand acre Devils River State Natural Area is primitive and isolated. Visitors to the site should be prepared for a rugged wilderness experience.

The waterway, for which it’s named, is one of the state’s most ecologically intact rivers. Paddling Devils River ranks high on many people’s bucket lists.

While limited access is available for paddlers through the Devils River Access Permit system, paddling this river is not for the faint of heart. Due to its remote location, safe, reliable, and legal camp sites on the river are in short supply.

To help create safe conditions for the recreational use of the Devils River and minimize trespassing issues, the Texas Parks and Wildlife River Access and Conservation Area Program opened two paddle-up-only camp sites last month.

By adding the two new campsites, permitted paddlers can explore the river safely and maintain the high standards of river stewardship that will preserve its uniqueness.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is partnering with the Devils River Conservancy to collaborate on educational materials that will be distributed among local guides and vendors to prepare paddlers for overnight trips on the Devils River.

These camp sites are the newest additions to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s statewide network of 19 River Access and Conservation Areas, offering improved angler and paddler access to more than 100 miles of Texas rivers.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Wisdom of the Owl (pellets)

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Barred Owl

Barred Owl

This is Passport to Texas

Owls symbolize wisdom – and we can learn much from them when pick their… pellets.

It’s more dignified than digging through poo because you’ll be digging through vomit.

Amy Kocurek and I have different ideas about what’s dignified, but this interpretive ranger at Martin Dies Jr. SP, in East TX does know how to keep visitors engaged.

The kids especially, they love it. Little furry, tin foiled wrapped up presents, that they get to unwrap and see what sort of mysterious surprises await inside.

Wrapped in foil? Yes, because you can order them online.

Most of them are from barn owls that people will collect from in their bars where owls just hack up these pellets; they’ll collect them and sanitize them and sell them for teachers, mostly.

Whether pellets are fresh or sanitized for your protection, those small, furry capsules have secrets to reveal.

Because it contains these almost perfectly preserved pieces of bones and beaks and different things the owl ate, researchers can see what their man food source is in the area that they’re living, if that food source is changing seasonally…. But also, if you’re doing population studies on small mammals that will allow you to see how many different types of mammals are being eaten by owls. So, it can give you an all-round general idea of the population of animals in that ecosystem.

Dissect pellets with Amy Kocurek April 15 at Martin Dies Jr. SP; details at texasstateparks.org.

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

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