Archive for May, 2009

Caprock Canyons State Park

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Visitors to Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway, in the Texas Panhandle, leave with a better sense of Texas’ rich natural and cultural heritage than when they arrived.

It’s one of the unique Texas treasures that everyone should see.

Deanna Oberheu (O-bur-hew), former park manager, said that in recent years, the park added an overlook for viewing the state’s official bison herd and a new visitor’s center. The installation of interpretive exhibits this past November further enhances the visitor experience.

Really, this is the most important part of the process—is getting the exhibits installed. It’ll showcase to people what they might see if they get out in the park, and teach them a little bit about the geology, the plants, the animals and the past people of Caprock Canyons.

The relationship between Native Americans and bison is a recurring theme in the exhibit.

The thread of Caprock Canyons is that people have been there and occupied the site at since, at least, ten thousand years ago. So, out exhibits focus a lot on how the native people used plants, and how they used the bison, and really just how they interacted with the landscape.

Find more information about Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway at

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

Bois d’Arc Trees (Osage Orange)

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

This tree is easily spotted by its fruit.

When you come up to a Bois D’Arc tree, you’ll see the fruit, which most people call horse apples. It’s a yellowish color and will get as large as grapefruit. I always kinda joke with people it can be kind of a hard-hat area.

Lee Ellis is Park Manager of Bonham State Park, where the Bois D’Arc can be seen in large numbers. Of course, the apples are not edible to humans, but Ellis says that people have found them useful for other purposes.

Some people actually still use bois d’arc apples to put around their homes. There’s food for thought out there that it’ll actually keep spiders and other insects from getting to your house.

But more valued than its apples, is the Bois D’Arc’s wood.

Especially before the invention of barbed wire, people would use it as hedges. The bark actually has spines on it, so it acted as a natural barrier. And the wood itself is very durable, very hard, and very elastic also, and it turned out to be very resistant to termites and other insects. So they would use it, the early settlers, for everything from fence posts, grave markers, foundations for houses. Matter of fact, at one time, the only way to get a loan for a house in Texas was if the foundation was made out of Bois D’Arc.

One gentle reminder: the wood, nor its fruit, can be taken from the parks. The animals need them too!

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

The Water at Lost Maples

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Passport to Texas From Texas Parks and Wildlife

Just seeing all those maple trees in one location and when the weather changes it’s just so beautiful up there.

Which state park this visitor is talking about?

I’m Kevin Barker and I visited Lost Maples over there in the Hill country Area.

This gorgeous park got its name from the rare pocket of Big Tooth Maples that fill the area. But hike around, like Kevin, and you’ll find plenty other natural gems!

What I also enjoyed was finding little pockets of springs where the water was coming up through the aquifer and just kind of dipping in. You know, when you’re walking around in 90 degree heat on top of the mountain, it was real nice to kick off your shoes and kind of jump in with your bathing suit and cool off a little bit. So it was real neat.

Beyond the inviting refreshment of its pools, Lost Maples Park Superintendent, John Stuart, says those same waters quench the thirst of Central Texans…and it’s like drinking ancient history.

We’re right at the head waters of the Sabinal River and it comes out of springs out of the sides of the hills and caves and then it flows on down and most of the water drops into the Edwards Aquifer and then goes back over towards Austin. And they say it takes a thousand years for the water to get from here to there. Geologically speaking that’s just a blink, but it’s quite a long time for a man.

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

Texas Legacies: Joe Moore

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Passport to Texas Legacies …from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Joe Moore is an educator and former Executive Director of the Texas Water Development Board. He understands the importance of freshwater inflows to the health of bays, estuaries and to us. Getting others to understand has been a challenge.

You cannot imagine the reaction you get from an audience in Lubbock when you tell them that instead of pumping the water to Lubbock, you’re going to let it flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

A major engineering consulting firm was meeting with an advisory group one time, and we were talking about freshwater inflows. He suddenly realized we were talking about assuring freshwater inflows, and he said, ‘You mean you’re going to give the water to a fish before you give it to people?’ They didn’t understand the economics of freshwater inflows.

There was a 1957 conference on this campus [Texas Tech] in which waste was described as a bucket of water that escaped into the Gulf of Mexico. The objective at that point was to dam every river in Texas so that there was not a drop of water that went out of a Texas river into the Gulf of Mexico. So the Trinity would stop flowing before it got to Galveston Bay. Every river in Texas would be so controlled that no water would quote, be wasted into the Gulf of Mexico, end quote. That’s how little understanding there was of the significance of freshwater inflows.

Protecting freshwater inflows protects out future.

Our show is produced in cooperation with the Conservation History Association of Texas. Visit them at

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

TPW Magazine June Preview

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine has a great adventure lined up for readers this month as they go deep underground into karst caves. Managing Editor, Louie Bond.

The way they were created geologically is that the bedrock dissolves, and what you have forming is a sink hole on top, and underneath you have these caves and these wonderful springs. And what’s really special about these formations, I think, are the wonderful creatures that come to live there. And there’s a whole “genre” of species that are called troglobites.

And troglobites are these creatures that have evolved within the cave. They never leave. So, they have these special attributes. Some of them don’t have eyes; they have paler pigments because they’re never out in the light; their appendages change. And, so a lot of these fascinating creatures are never seen.

And, I think some of the most fantastical creatures are the cavers who are obsessed with these caves. And they go down and they map them and they explore them, and they photograph them. And, I think most importantly, from our perspective, is they keep an eye on these special little creatures, because they’re sort of the canaries in the coal mine as to how we’re doing with our springs, and these really delicate ecosystems.

And once we start losing these species, we realize something’s wrong and we need to do something about it. So, this is really important work, as well as being just an incredible adventure for our readers.

Thanks, Louie.

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