Flowers, Boxes, and Bees. Oh My!

August 29th, 2016
Looking for pollinators on backyard flowering plants.

Looking for pollinators on backyard flowering plants.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife developed a new protocol that addresses land management for pollinators. While the protocols focus on acreage, urban dwellers can still manage for these species in their backyards.

One of the biggest things that urban residents can do is simply plant more good quality flowering plants.

Michael Warriner is non-game and rare species program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says native plants are best, but noninvasive nonnatives are also useful. He adds that if you’re serious about helping pollinators—scale back your lawn.

And having more flowering plants. Also, another thing is offering nest sites. And especially with our native solitary bees that nest in dead wood, urban folks can put up native bee nesting blocks.

If you’re worried about putting up nesting boxes because of the close proximity it puts you to bees—don’t.

Because solitary bees don’t defend their nest sites, you don’t have to worry about these bees flying out and defending their nests and getting stung. Let’s say like honeybee colonies do. Or, paper wasps. You know, insects that are social.

By planting more flowering species in your landscape, and by hanging bee nesting boxes in your public outdoor spaces, you are not only providing food, shelter and breeding sites for important pollinators, you’re also creating a more beautiful setting for yourself. Win-win.

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

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

NOTE: October 7 – 16, 2016 participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz. Learn more when you click here.

TPW TV – Betting on Butterflies

August 26th, 2016
One of the many butterfly species you'll find in the Texas Rio Grande Valley

One of the many butterfly species you’ll find in the Texas Rio Grande Valley


This is Passport to Texas

A diverse array of wildlife viewing opportunities can be had in Texas. Especially in the Rio Grande Valley, where visitors—like David Dauphin—travel to see butterflies.

You can see more species of butterflies than anywhere else in the United States. It’s just another aspect of the wildlife watching that’s so fantastic in the valley.

During the week of August 28, the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS airs a segment called Betting on Butterflies, which looks at this relatively recent wildlife viewing obsession.

Butterfly field guides didn’t really start coming out until the mid-90s, I guess. And like birding, you eventually start checking them off a list, and that sort of thing. Butterfliers are really birders that have gone over to the dark side. It’s just a progression.

Many people visit the valley to add new butterfly species to their list, yet, locals, like Kay Cunningham, find joy in an old favorite—the monarch—during its fall migration.

It’s always a big thrill when they start coming in. This part of Texas is kind of plain. But, there is a beauty in this country that you have to be patient and wait for. And the monarch are one of those.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of butterflies the week of August 28 with the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS, Check your local listings.

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

Milkweed for Monarchs

August 25th, 2016
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the iconic monarch butterfly during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at passporttotexas.org.

Find an article about milkweeds by Jason Singhurst in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Leasing Land for Angler Access

August 24th, 2016
Here's what river access can get you.

Here’s what river access can get you.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife has expanded angler access to some of the state’s 191-thousand miles of rivers through a lease program.

We’re trying to bring in private landowners to help be a solution to open up angler access to rivers.

Tim Birdsong is chief of habitat conservation for Texas Parks and wildlife. Landowners who participate in the program receive monthly lease payments and even funds for site improvements.

Such as trails, or parking areas. If there’s an interest, we support habitat improvements…addressing, sometimes, erosion issues, or maybe loss of vegetation along the stream bank that’s resulting in some kind of bank instability. So, there are a lot of things we can do at these sites to help benefit not just their general management of the site, but also provide for a better user experience.

Birdsong says users ought not to expect a family-friendly parklike setting.

This is more about showcasing a natural, functional, healthy river system. This is for folks that are experienced paddlers, and anglers that really know how to [navigate and] fish a river. Rivers are inherently dangerous and somewhat unforgiving. But we do want to provide an opportunity for people to experience what a natural, flowing river is.

Find more information about the program and river ecosystems on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Landowners Key to River Access for Angling

August 23rd, 2016
Landowners are the key to river access for angling in Texas.

Landowners are the key to river access for angling in Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

As 95-percent of Texas land is privately owned, angler access to rivers is challenging.

Our laws are such that many of the larger rives in the state are publicly navigable, so anglers—the public—have a right to recreate in those river segments. But, accessing those rivers is very difficult, because you have to cross land; often that land is under private ownership.

Tim Birdsong is chief of habitat conservation for Texas Parks and wildlife. Through leases with landowners, Texas Parks and Wildlife has expanded angler access along the 191-thousand miles of rivers in Texas.

The program is intended to be a win-win scenario for landowners and for anglers. If they have a property that’s a good fit, and really does expand bank, wade and kayak fishing in the state, and they’re interested in making some money off of that, then what they do is participate in this lease program. We provide some funds for a monthly lease payment. We also provide funding for site improvements such as trails or parking areas. If there’s an interest, we will support habitat improvements.

Angler access improvements in Texas are funded primarily through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

Find additional information about angler river access and how to get involved in the program on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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