Learn to Camp–No Experience Required

February 12th, 2018
Texas Outdoor Family Workshop

Texas Outdoor Family Workshop

This is Passport to Texas

Have your kids been begging you to take them on an overnight camping trip at a Texas State Park? Have they talked excitedly about sleeping in a tent and making s’mores over a campfire, or maybe even catching a fish? If you’ve been putting them off because you’re out of practice, or never learned the skills in the first place—we can help.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers the Texas Outdoor Family program to help you to hone or to develop outdoor skills. During one or two-night workshops, state park staff lead families through the basics of setting up camp and getting the most out of their time in nature.

All camping gear and equipment required for an overnight stay at the park is included with each reservation! Just bring your family—that’s up to six people—sheets, blankets and food and you are ready for a camping adventure.

But you need to register in advance, and workshops fill fast. Workshops are scheduled in March at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Galveston Island State Park, Buescher State Park, Lake Ray Roberts State Park, and Huntsville State Park. There are more workshops in April, May and June at other state parks.

Texas Outdoor Family Workshops are always fun; you’ll leave the park with new confidence in your ability to enjoy overnight camping with your family and friends.

Find details in the calendar section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW TV – El Camino Real de Los Tejas

February 9th, 2018
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)

This is Passport to Texas

El Camino Real de Los Tejas, is a historic trail from Spanish Colonial times that shaped Texas history. Learn more on a segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

I’m Steven Gonzales. I’m executive director of El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association. El Camino Real de los Tejas is the old royal road that came up from Mexico City to establish Texas in Spanish colonial times. It’s the road that led to the founding of Texas. There are many caminos reales that make up the Camino Real. In times past these roads have different names because of the places that they were going to. The Old San Antonio Road and the Nacogdoches Road, La Bahia Road and the Laredo Road. Every Texan of note that we can think of, all the way from Spaniards such as Alonzo de Leon to Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, they all travelled along portions of the Camino Real at one time or another, and it’s really elemental to the state’s history. We think about things like the battle of the Alamo and Goliad, and we forget that those troops were actually travelling along roadways, pathways, and those were largely the Camino Real and segments of it.  So one of our goals is to make the public more aware of it.

El Camino Real de los Tejas: Tracing a Timeless Trail next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

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.

What Monarchs Need

February 8th, 2018
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

Larval monarchs have very specific nutritional needs.

Larval monarchs depend on milkweed species. Essentially, that’s the only plant monarch caterpillars consume.

Ben Hutchins, state invertebrate biologist, says availability of milkweed in Texas is vital to their survival.

As monarchs migrate north from their overwriting grounds in Mexico, Texas is one of their first stops. And this is where they begin to reproduce. And so all of the monarchs that then migrate farther north through the US and Canada, those future generations depend on successful reproduction in the spring here in Texas.

Yet, Texas is just one stop along their migration route.

Monarchs also reproduce and depend on milkweed in the Midwestern states in the united states. And, we know that in many of those states—for example, in the corn belt region—that the availability of milkweed plants has declined substantially over the last several decades. And so, there is some pretty good science that suggests that decline in milkweed availability in the Midwest, directly relates to the monarch population declines that we have seen.

We can all play a part in the monarch’s survival when we plant milkweed and other nectar producing plants.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Tree Planting Tips from Arborist Scott

February 7th, 2018

 

How to Plant and Where to Play Your Trees.

How to Plant and Where to Play Your Trees.

This is Passport to Texas

Trees provide habitat for wildlife, as well as shade and beauty for us. If you’re adding new trees to your landscape this year: know the rules.

People frequently ask how close they can put a tree to the house, because shade on the house obviously is a huge energy savings. The general rule of thumb is you go no closer to the house than the eaves are high. So, if you measure up to the eaves of your house, and they’re ten feet high, then you need to get ten feet back from the house.

Scott Harris, a certified arborist in Austin, recommends planting native trees. For your tree to get the best start in life, he recommends the following:

You always want to plant your trees at the exact level they were in the pot. Don’t dig a big deep hole, dig a big wide hole. Always use the same soil you took out to backfill. But, you can put your compost underneath the mulch, and then all of that organic goodness will dribble down in the way that nature intended.

Water your new trees infrequently and deeply; this helps them to develop extensive root systems.

If you just have a little bit of water in one area, that’s where the roots are going to go. But if you water very deeply, it’ll spread into the surrounding soil, and the roots will follow that moisture out.

A robust root system helps trees remain vigorous and able to better withstand Texas droughts.

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

Still Time to Plant Trees Before Summer Heat

February 6th, 2018
by Tree planting photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr, Creative Commons

by Tree planting photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr, Creative Commons

This is Passport to Texas

Theoretically, you can plant trees all year long. However, for the best outcome, do so while temperatures are cool.

It’s just much easier on them.

Scott Harris is a certified arborist in Austin. Although fall the best time to plant trees, the best tree planting window in Texas runs from October through March.

Getting the trees in the ground in the fall [and winter], they have the entire cool season, dormant season, to spread roots out before the big demands on roots and water start in the spring.

There’s still time to get your trees in the ground to take advantage of cool winter temperatures and spring rains. On another note: just because a tree will grow in Texas, doesn’t mean it should grow here. Harris advises we stick with natives.

The biggest thing to avoid is non-natives. Our natives have all of the features you would want, but they’ve spent thousands and thousands of years getting used to being here, and with all of the wildlife used to having them, too. It’s all a web, and you can’t tell which string you can pull out without upsetting things.

Tomorrow tree planting tips to help your newly planted tree thrive.

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