Restoring the Past

August 14th, 2018

Mule Deer Buck

This is Passport

Found in the Trans Pecos and Panhandle ecoregions, mule deer is an iconic Texas species. Biologist, Shawn Gray, says populations cycle up and down over the years.

A long, long, long time ago, we used to have a lot of mule deer up in the panhandle before European settlement. But, through different range practices, and different land use practices and unregulated hunting, we depleted the mule deer population up there. But through years of better management and restoration efforts, it seems like the population up there is doing pretty well now.

Gray is the state’s mule deer program leader. Texas has an estimated population of 285,000 mule deer…that’s despite a decline in the Trans Pecos population at the Black Gap WMA during the last drought.

In 2011, we reached almost an all-time low in our mule deer herd from the 70s. So, when you look at that 2011 number to today, we’re looking a lot better, for sure.

Through focused population management, including translocation of animals to these areas, as well as habitat improvements, the state’s mule deer population is stable to increasing.

There’s not very many places that really need a lot more mule deer. And hopefully we’re beyond that [translocation] with our last translocation to the Black Gap, if everything’s working in our favor.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mule Deer restoration in Texas.

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

2018-2019 Drawn Hunts

August 13th, 2018

Hunters in the field

This is Passport to Texas

If you’re a hunter who enjoys a game of chance—apply for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Drawn Hunts. This year about 9,500 permits in 49 hunt categories are up for grabs… for drawn hunts on public and private lands. Apply online.

New this season: hunters may draw special permit hunts for exotic Sambar deer, as well as for white-tailed deer on the new Powderhorn Wildlife Management Area. Also new this year: a youth archery deer hunt through an e-Postcard drawing at Palmetto State Park.

You can also apply for hunts managed by other entities, including almost 2,200 deer and exotic hunt positions on four U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in Texas and 2,500 antlerless deer permits for U.S. Forest Service properties in East Texas.

Then there’s the program’s highly-popular private lands dove hunt permit category, which features almost 150 hunt slots at seven prime locations around the state. These permits are for dedicated hunt positions with quality dove hunting outfitters. Application fee is $10 with no additional hunt permit fees for this category.

Application deadlines are the first and fifteenth of each month. Entries cost $10; Youth Only category entries are always free. All applications, fee payments and permit issuance is handled electronically.

Find more information and view interactive maps on the Texas Parks and Wildlife drawn hunts webpage.

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

Back to School Week: Outdoor Adventures

August 10th, 2018

Learning orienteering with Texas Outdoors Tomorrow’s Outdoor Adventures Education programs

This is Passport to Texas Back to School Week

The Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation partners with Texas Parks and Wildlife to bring Outdoor Adventures Education to middle and high school students.

We promote the outdoor adventures education program across the United States, and primarily in Texas.

Scot McClure is Education Director for the organization.

There’s not another curriculum like it in the entire United States. Although our program has expanded beyond Texas, we are primarily a Texas Parks and Wildlife education program.

The Outdoor Adventures course offers one or two semesters of daily lesson plans that may include Angler Education, Boater Education and Hunter Education. Students who complete these classes earn certification. There’s also Dutch oven cooking, orienteering and more. McClure says these classes count as physical education.

Any student can take this class as a PE class if the school offers it. Every school in the state of Texas can offer Outdoor Adventures. It is 100% available to every single student in Texas. If their local school doesn’t have Outdoor Adventures, then they need to find the right decision-maker; maybe it’s the principal, maybe it’s the curriculum coordinator, or the school board. And say: We want Outdoor adventures in our school so our children can learn these skills and enjoy them [for a lifetime].

Find a link for the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation at passporttotexas.org.

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

Back to School Week: Aquatic Science

August 9th, 2018

Texas Aquatic Science Teacher Handbook

This is Passport to Texas Back to School Week

Of all the things that students study this year when they return to the classroom, Texas Aquatic Science may be among the most important.

Texas aquatic science is the study of anything aquatic. Whether it be the habitat, the plants, or the animals that live in it.

Melissa Alderson is the conservation education manager with Texas Parks and Wildlife. For most living things, water is life.

So, it’s really important that we look at water as a resource and protect the water that we have here.

Melissa and her team train middle school and high school teachers in this hands-on aquatic science curriculum. Educators impart the information to students both in the classroom and in the field.

And if they don’t have any water in their backyard, they can always contact a certified field site. Those are agencies that have programs that do water quality monitoring, watershed activities…where they can take a field trip to do Texas aquatic science.

The benefits of Texas aquatic science curriculum are far reaching.

If we get the kids, at a young age, to protect those resources through science investigations, games, models, internet projects, then when they get older, they’re going to be the ambassadors for the water here in Texas.

Bring Texas Aquatic Science to your classroom; learn how when you click the Education tab on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program Supports our series.

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

Back to School Week: Texas Children in Nature

August 8th, 2018

Children connecting with nature. Image: www.texaschildreninnature.org

This is Passport to Texas Back to School Week

Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” in his 2006 book, Last Child in the Woods. Three years later, the Children in Nature Network formed.

And the real work began: to reconnect children and families with nature around the state.

Jennifer Bristol coordinates the Texas Children in Nature program at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We work with over 500 partner organizations to look at how does the education, the conservation, the built environment, the faith communities, the different youth development communities, health community—all work in tandem to make sure that we are doing our very best to connect more children and families with nature.

Children spend between 7 and 11 hours indoors with media. Health experts attribute this sedentary lifestyle to a rise in childhood obesity and behavior issues.

When they’re not connected with nature, those things are more prevalent. Versus if they’re outdoors and they’re active and they’re enjoying playing in nature—those are healthy life choices that stick with them for their entire life.

Teachers can help improve the future of our youth.

What I talk to teachers about all the time is any lesson can be taught outdoors. It’s very beneficial; they’re more engaged while they’re out there. And most teachers that take that step out the door see good results.

Find classroom resources on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website—click the Education tab. And, the Nature Rocks Texas website points families to nearby nature-based activities.

Our series receives support from RAM Trucks; built to serve.

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