Archive for June, 2008

Beginning Caving

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Longtime caver, Rae Nadler-Olenick, stopped by our office recently to offer advice to beginning cavers.

The first step is to find some other cavers, because cavers are very helpful and generous in getting new cavers started.

Always go caving with a buddy, wear a hardhat, and bring three sources of light. Don’t forget water and snacks. Oh, and dress appropriately.

I would recommend the layered approach. There are various kinds of silks and different kinds of underwear, and just all different things. I dress in layers. If I expect to be cold, I might use a thermal undershirt, and then stack some t-shirts, a flannel shirt, a sweatshirt. As far as the layers are concerned, I like to wear things that can be easily tied around the waste.

Caving is a physically and mentally demanding sport; you have to think on your feet even when you’re crawling on your belly.

A lot of people in the Austin area get introduced to caving through Airman’s cave, which is an uncomfortable stoop walk much of the distance. And you’re always hearing of people getting stuck in that cave for awhile, but you don’t hear of anyone getting hurt of killed in it.

We have a list of caving groups at (see below)

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

Aggie Speleological Society

Bexar Grotto

Cowtown Grotto

Dallas/Ft. Worth Grotto

Greater Houston Grotto

Lubbock Area Grotto

Maverick Grotto

North East Texas Cavers

Permian Basin Speleological Society

Underground Texas Grotto

Outdoor Safety: Saving Your Skin

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Now that summer is here, you’ll be spending more time outdoors, wearing less clothing. We say—cover up—with sunscreen.

We know that skin cancers are caused by excessive skin exposure, and not even excessive sun exposure in fair complected people. It’s important to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancers in the future.

Dermatologist Toni Funicella (foo-ni-sella) says Texans should apply sunscreen daily since our state boasts nearly 300 days of sunshine a year.

The sunscreen people should wear in this part of the country should begin with an SPF or sun protection factor of at least a 30.

If you must wear sunscreen—and you must—Dr. Funicella says experiment until you find one you like.

What people need to look for in a sunscreen is one they’ll wear and find one they like. That is, they like the way it goes on, feels, smells and they won’t mind applying it more than once a day.

Find more outdoor safety tips at

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

The Lives and Loves of Frogs

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Amphibians are a remarkably unique life form.

Texas State University Biologist Dr. Mike Forstner says if you’ve ever wondered about the love lives of amphibians, he can help.

Amphibian or amphibios is a two-stage life. Those dual lives reflect water and land. When we think about the mating process or the management of the toad we have to take both in account the water and the land. All frogs and toads call. They make a unique advertisement call.

You’ve probably heard male leopard frogs and bullfrogs [bullfrogs sfx] advertising their intentions and didn’t realize it. On the eastern edge of Central Texas, Forstner says there is an endangered species that really knows how to pitch woo. [Houston toad sfx]

… further into the forest in Bastrop, we begin to hear a high-pitched trills that lasts a long time, up to 15 seconds for the Houston toad.

All calls allow the females to hone in on potential mates.

And the females will hop toward the male call that they think is the most attractive. So there is female choice- not very different from what happened in the human world.

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

CLICK HERE to go to a page where you can see images, and hear the songs, of Texas frogs and toads.

Rules of Frogging

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

[chorus of frogs] Have you ever been frogging?

It’s what we call when you just get out at night and you start listening for frogs and see what’s living out there around you.

Lee Ann Linam coordinates the Texas Amphibian Watch program in which volunteers go frogging at night to collect information on amphibian species they hear. These citizen scientists follow rules while “on duty.”

When we suggest that folks do something kind of unusual like that, we like to give them some guidelines to keep them safe, and to keep the frogs safe, and to respect the rules around them. So, that’s what the rules of frogging are for.

Some rules include bringing a buddy along, and knowing the terrain and wildlife species in your monitoring area. Volunteers must also obtain permission before accessing privately owned land. Finally, consider the safety of the amphibians.

Amphibians are sensitive to things like insect repellents that contain Deet, which many of them do. Things like sunscreen and other chemicals that might be on your hands. And so we always say to people, before handling frogs, make sure that you wash your hands, keep your hands moist. And then the other thing we say is to go ahead and wash up afterwards because some frogs have compounds on their skin that protect them from being eaten.

And those compounds can be irritants. We have a link to the complete rules of frogging at

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

Audubon Texas Quail Initiative, 2

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Texas Chapter of the Audubon Society unveiled its quail and grassland bird program in 2003.

Audubon became interested in getting involved in quail and quail management at the state level due to [the fact] grassland birds on the whole have been declining at an alarming rate range wide.

Kyle Brazil is leader of the Audubon Texas quail and grassland bird program, which helps landowners develop plans to manage quail habitat.

Quail like a mixture of woody, herbaceous, or grass cover—also mixed with forbs, or weeds, and bare ground. And they like that interspersed over the landscape. They like to have every component of their habitat within a stone’s throw.

For a long-term, sustainable quail population, Brazil says quail need 3 to 5thousand acres of quality habitat.

That being said, you have to work with what you have. And so managing as much area as possible for quail habitat is what you need to do. Specifically managing for nesting habitat, which is the major limiting factor across the range. Nesting habitat is made up of native bunch grasses. Here in Texas we typically think of little bluestem.

Landowners are vital to quail’s survival, and the reasons landowners have for preserving quail habitat varies.

The economic element is part of it. The other part being that quail, in Texas, are also very culturally important—it’s part of our history. And Texans, as you know, like to maintain their history.

Learn about quail management at

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