Archive for September, 2010

Native Plant Database

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

This is passport to Texas

Fall is the best time to plant trees, woody shrubs and perennials in the landscape. Yet, before you break ground, there are several questions you should have answered:

10—Is it drought tolerant? Is it saline-tolerant? Is it alkaline-tolerant? Does it propagate easily? What’s it beneficial to? Horses, wild game or other types of livestock, is it pollinated by honeybees? Fire-tolerant?

Kathy Boydston is the Coordinator for the Wildlife Habitat Assessment Program at Texas Parks and Wildlife, which is the home of a comprehensive online Texas Plant Information Database.

09—Most of them are natives; some of them are what we call naturalized plants. There is a list of 150 attributes for each plant that is in that database.

Users of the database, found on the Parks and Wildlife website can determine what plants will be the most beneficial to wildlife, which are best for a certain soil and what plants grow better in the heat of the Texas sun…

17—Trying to get people to plant more wildlife-friendly plants, rather than a lot of exotic species. We’re trying to get people to find other alternatives for lets say, grass species in their lawn, or we’re trying to encourage people to xeriscape more, use more native plants that use less water.

To learn more about the Texas Plant Information Database, log on to our website, at

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet…building dependable, reliable trucks for more than 90 years. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife Hikes

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

After spending the summer indoors in self-imposed air-conditioned exile, the promise of cooler fall temperatures is sure to call you outside again.

Hiking in a state park is a simple and enjoyable way to reengage the great outdoors, and experience our state’s abundant natural resources.

Many parks have more than one trail, offering varying levels of difficulty.

A hike is not a race. So, slow down and take time to appreciate your surroundings. Trails are as varied as the parks they’re in. Some follow streams or take you into the woods, or onto rocky ledges; they can be shaded or sun-drenched. And wildlife viewing opportunities while hiking are abundant.

When hiking, dress for the weather. Always wear comfortable close toed shoes. Use a hat and sunscreen to save your skin. Insect repellent is always a good call when hiking in heavily wooded and wet areas. And don’t forget to bring water.

Experts recommend you have eight ounces of water with you for every hour you plan to be on the trail.

Remember, whatever you pack in—pack it out. Leave no trace.

Find trail information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet…building dependable, reliable trucks for more than 90 years. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Franklin Mountains State Park

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

The Franklin Mountains, site of the country’s largest urban state park, keep watch over the people of El Paso, who, in turn, enjoy the park and its growing network of trails.

Our SP guide, Bryan Frazier explains.

What we have discovered is parks that are in urban areas are great opportunities for day use, and Franklin Mountains State Park is right there in the middle of El Paso. And, it’s the largest state park in an urban setting, at about 24,000 acres, and there are already two trail loops that get a lot of use. But we looked at the usage plan, and with a combined effort with volunteer and park staff and other organizations, trying to really have an ambition goal of increasing that trail network by some 80 miles of multi-use trails: hike, bike, equestrian and so, when it’s all said and done, we’re looking at more than 100 miles of multi-use trails inside Franklin Mountain State Park, and I think that would be a great benefit to the park and the people of the area.

Thanks Bryan.

That’s our show… Remember: Life’s Better Outside…
For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW Magazine–Venison Do-It-Yourself

Monday, September 27th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

The October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine has hunting on the menu, as well as a story about cooking wild game… by yours truly. Editor Louie Bond.

The next step after hunting, of course, is preparing the meat for the table, which is, of course, my favorite part of the season. And, we have a great article well, by you Cecilia Nasti, this month on how to get that venison from the field to the table in the most delicious way possible. Can you tell us something about it?

Jesse Griffiths is a great chef here in the Central Texas area. And he taught a class of six people—both hunters and non-hunters—how to deconstruct a deer after you get it, and how to make that game taste absolutely delicious and not gamey at all.

You know, Cecilia, you’re a well-known foodie around these parts. And I know you’re into natural food, and especially local food, and so this is a perfect combination of these passions for you. I

’m very concerned about the quality of food: what goes into it how is it produced. It’s one thing to get food in a hermetically sealed package. It’s another to go out there and actually harvest it yourself. So, yeah, I mean, it was a whole, new eye-opening experience for me.

Well, I have a feeling, Cecilia, when you and I sit down at the table this fall, it’s just going to be a whole different experience for us.

You’ve got that right, Louie.

That’s our show… we receive support from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Woodpecker Damage–One Solution

Friday, September 24th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

[woodpecker pecking]

As a rule, woodpeckers excavate cavities in dead trees, called snags, which they then live in. The exception to the rule occurs when in their home building zeal, they mistake dark colored, or cedar house siding, for a snag. When they do—homeowners have problems.

And it looks like cannon balls have been shot through the house. Maybe two or three; and we’ve seen some with fifteen, sixteen holes.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says woodpecker damage occurs most often in urban and suburban areas where homeowners removed dead wood from their property.

What we recommend people to do with problems with woodpeckers is to put a nest box. If you’re familiar with a bluebird box, it’s just a larger version of that custom made for woodpeckers.

Visit for a link to information and free blueprints to make your own woodpecker nest box.

People can build this in a couple of hours on the weekend, and put it up on the side of the house, and in all cases that we’ve done this – it’s worked. And the woodpecker stops chiseling on the home, and goes to this next box, and is very content.

[woodpecker pecking]

That’s our show for today… Remember: Life’s Better Outside…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti