Archive for December, 2007

New Year’s Resolution

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Texans of a certain age recall when families commonly spent time together outdoors. Today, though, individual demands on time—coupled with the rapid proliferation of affordable personal technologies—keeps everyone busy indoors, and in different rooms.

We are out of touch with one another and with nature. Next month we begin a new year, with renewed opportunities to discover why life is better outside. For your health and for your peace of mind, resolve to go outside and to play on your own, or with family and friends in tow, for at least one hour a day.

Enjoy a walk in your neighborhood, or a nearby state park, and remember what it is like to take long purposeful strides and to breathe deeply of air neither artificially cooled nor heated.

Leave the cell phones and MP3 players at home and listen instead to the voices and music of nature: birdsongs, squirrels skittering along the ground and in tree branches, the sound of the wind, and the howls of coyotes.

Skim a flat rock across a lake, and watch the sunset from its banks. When you reconnect with nature, you reconnect with a deeper level of yourself.

That’s our show for today…Happy New Year from all of us at Passport to Texas: Joel Block, Kate Lipinski, Bill Harwell, Kim Conner, Philipp Hubner, and Benjamin Jansen…Remember: Life is Better Outside.

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

TPW January Magazine Preview

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

As far as Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine is concerned – it’s a brand new year, with brand new opportunities to discover why… life’s better outside. Managing editor, Louie Bond, shares with us a story about how technology – often blamed for alienating us from nature — can actually play a part in connecting us with the outdoors.

We’ve discovered that outdoor oriented websites and list serves are helping to bring together all kinds of nature lovers – taking them from the cyber world to the great Texas outdoors.

Katie Armstrong gives us the lowdown on five of these services, which are rapidly gaining popularity with anglers, hunters, birders, really anyone who likes to get outside.

And also in this issue, photographer Wyman Minzer not only shares some of his favorite wildlife action shots, he spills the beans on what it takes to capture that one perfect moment.

And Cheryl Smith Rogers, who is known around Blanco as the “spider lady,” followed Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, Mike Quinn, to take a closer look at the Lake Tawakoni spider web that captured the imagination of people around the world. Finally, we have a piece on staying warm, so you can curl up with the January issue and figure out how to beat the cold.

Find a link to the award winning Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine when you visit

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

Best Texas Hikes With Dogs

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

You know, I think my dogs like me more now since I took them on all those hikes.

Melissa Gaskill hiked over three hundred miles with her dogs while conducting research for her book, Best Hikes with Dogs Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast.

I really love the Lake Georgetown Trail. I also love the Hill Country State Natural Area. That one was really great. And then, some of the East Texas trails in the Big Thicket, in the National Forests. You get into deep thick woods and you find all kids of swampy areas.

Some of her favorite hikes were in Texas State Parks.

In my experience, all the hikes that I made in state parks – it was really easy to stay on the trail. You know there’s lots of nice amenities, the staff is always really helpful. They’re always really excited you’re there and willing to share what they know. And there’s so much variety. I hiked in Galveston Island State Park, which is basically just walking through a coastal marsh – tons of wildflowers and you see waterfowl. Nice vistas, they had a viewing tower that you could climb up. And then, you know, you hike in Enchanted rock and you’re climbing a giant rock.

Gaskill says Texas has a lot of variety to offer hikers and their furry friends.

Among these trails, there’s just about anything you could want from flat coasts to mountains and everything in between.

Find more about hiking with your dog at

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Kate Lipinski… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Best Hikes with Dogs:

Hike With your Dog Website:


Hiking With Man’s Best Friend

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

For everyone out there who has ever had trouble finding a hiking companion, Melissa Gaskill suggests you may want to consider recruiting your dog.

It’s just great for the dog. I mean so many people have dogs and the dogs don’t get enough stimulation and exercise and interaction; and rather than having to do something like take them to a dog park where you’re just doing something for the dog – this is something for both of you.

Gaskill is the author of Best Hikes with Dogs Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast. She says it’s easy to start hiking with man’s best friend.

You don’t need any special skills really. If you haven’t done it, don’t start with a twenty-five mile overnight. But for the most part, if you can carry a backpack with some water in it and you’ve got some shoes on – you can go.

Before heading out, to a state park, Gaskill recommends doing some research to make sure that dogs are allowed and that the trail is right for you.

Every park has some management. Whoever is in charge of it, whoever owns it, and they’ll have their own rules. You just have to ask. One thing that I would recommend is talking to the people at the park when you go for a variety of reasons. Ask them about the conditions of the trail. You might ask them what sorts of hazards there are. You can ask them about the weather. You know, people at the parks are really knowledgeable, they’re there and in general, they love to talk to you.

Dogs are welcome in state parks across Texas but leashes are required.

Melissa’s favorite trails tomorrow.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Kate Lipinski… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Christmas Bird Count: The Event

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

The four counties of the Rio Grande Valley; Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy. There are more bird species have been recorded in those counties, than in 46 of the 50 United States.

Joshua Rose is a Natural Resource Specialist at the World Birding Center at the Bentsen Rio-Grande Valley State Park The Center is hosting a Christmas Bird Count on January 2nd.

Everyone that wants to conduct a Christmas Bird Count, they submit to the National Audubon Society. They draw out a circle and if they circle doesn’t overlap with any other count circle, then the Audubon Society approves it. Each circle is supposed to be fifteen miles in diameter. We divide the circle up into different zones and then we recruit a whole bunch of volunteers and we assign those volunteers each to one of those zones in the circle.

Birders can make the count as competitive as they want.

When we divide up our zones for the count and assign our teams, we also tend to assign the different teams different amounts of time. So certain teams will have a smaller area; they can cover the whole area and count all the birds in five or six hours. Where as the really hardcore, borderline insane people, like myself, will start before dawn and keep going until after dark.

More information on Christmas Bird Counts available at

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Kate Lipinski… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.