Archive for December, 2010

Conservation: Texas Water Documentary, 2

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

One of the most pressing issues facing decision-makers when it comes to the Gulf of Mexico may be how they ultimately balance economic priorities with ecological needs. Producer, Lee Smith, addresses these and other issues in the latest water documentary from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

07—These contradictory interests have to be balanced and dealt with as we go forward.

Smith says this summer’s devastating oil spill in the gulf brought the issues of economics and ecology into the public consciousness as never before and helped him to tell the gulf’s story.

16—To have the BP spill happen you know, was almost—I hate to say this—fortuitous in many respects, because there’s a lot of exposition that I don’t have to do. People are now funded in a lot of these issues.

The documentary doesn’t focus on contentious issues, and it doesn’t take sides about whether we do or don’t want certain industries utilizing the resources of the gulf.

09—We’re getting more into the effects of what’s going on with the activity, which is here and has always been here and will be here for the foreseeable future.

Whether that activity is offshore drilling, fishing, recreation, or even natural disasters… The documentary airs early next year on PBS stations across Texas. Find a station near you at

We receive support from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to educate Texans about conserving water for humans and wildlife.

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

Conservation: Texas Water Documentary, 1

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

I had a chance to sit down with Lee Smith last month. He produces the water documentaries for Parks and Wildlife.

06—The next water documentary is going to be on the Gulf of Mexico. That’s kind of like saying “the universe” in many ways.

This is the fifth water documentary in the series; and as Smith says telling this story is no small feat.

15—It’s probably the largest scope for a water documentary that we’ve attempted so far—which is one of the things I’m grappling with. We’re going to try and describe what makes it so unique and so valuable to protect.

Nearly a year and a half into his planning and filming, the British Petroleum oil spill dominated the news and gulf ecosystem.

18—I’m not going to try to retell the story of the oil spill. And in many ways, what it does is it affords us an opportunity to discuss in a much more relevant way the kind of contention between the ecology and the economy.

We’ll have more on the upcoming documentary tomorrow.

The Gulf of Mexico water documentary airs early next year on PBS stations across Texas. At the time we produced our show, the exact date was unavailable.

We receive support from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to educate Texans about conserving water for humans and wildlife…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Nature: Winter Shell Collecting

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Before you sell seashells by the seashore, you first have to find them. Surprisingly, summer beach combing may not yield the results you desire.

I feel the best time to go shelling is in the wintertime.

Paul Hammerschmidt, with coastal fisheries, is a lifelong and—admittedly obsessive—shell collector. He says winter storms churn up the Gulf bottom, sending marine critters and their calciferous containments onto the beach. To improve your chances of finding a variety of intact shells, Hammerschmidt says stay clear of crowded beaches.

If you get a chance to go to some more isolated beaches, like down on Padres island, or something like that, where the population of humans is not quite so thick, you’ll have a much better chance of finding some really unusual shells.

Such as a pretty little shell called baby ears—which looks like…well…baby ears. Or, there’s another special shell worth searching for called spirula.

And it’s a coiled, snail-like shell. But it doesn’t belong to a snail—it belongs to a little squid. And it’s inside the squid, and when the squid dies, that little thing has a lot of chambers in it with gas, and it floats and washes up on the beach. Those are very pretty, bright white, and they’re very fragile, so you have to be careful with them.

This winter, instead of heading to the slopes for skiing, head to the beach for shelling…you can still have hot cocoa when you’re done.

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

Nature: The Shell Game

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Nobody thinks twice about collecting shells from the beach. But I started to wonder if it’s really okay since beaches are public land.

It’s okay to collect shells. The ones that are broken and come apart, they create the sand that’s out there, but there is no law against it [collecting].

Paul Hammerschmidt, with coastal fisheries, is a lifelong shell collector. He says collect responsibly to avoid creating problems for the environment or marine animals.

I highly recommend that you only take shells that are from dead animals—not live animals.

How can you determine if something is still alive? In the case of the popular sand dollar, small spines cover the shells of living animals…so look for smooth, spineless shells. If, like me, you’ve never found a sand dollar on the beach—there’s good reason for it.

I think it’s because everybody wants to get a sand dollar. And, too, they’re another very fragile shell. And when the waves are strong, they’ll get broken up, and you’ll just see fragments of them. A lot of times, the best time to find a sand dollar, is after a storm—and then very early in the morning—before anybody else gets out on the beach.

More tips on when and where to go shelling tomorrow. Continue this story online at

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

TPW Magazine: Photography Issue

Monday, December 27th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

We pick up magazines as much to look at the pictures as to read the articles. The January issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine let’s you embrace this guilty pleasure. Editor Louie Bond is here to tell us about the second annual photography issue.

Oh, I think our readers really loved it last year. Except that one reader who called and asked if we’d run out of stories to tell. And I can assure our reader that we haven’t, but we do like to take a month and display some of the best photography in Texas, And this year’s theme is forces of nature, which , of course, ties into everything we do here at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Our photographers have a job that we often envy, but I think sometimes we don’t always think it all the way through. They get up well before dawn to catch that marvelous first light. When a hurricane comes, instead of heading the other direction, they run right towards it, and hunker down with the game wardens, and go out and document all the devastation afterward. So it’s equal parts of charm and luck and courage. I think, that keep our photographers going. And this year we’re going to have a special emphasis on our own photographers. Our chief photographer Earl Nottingham, our assistant art director, Brandon Jakobeit, and our great parks and Wildlife photographer Chase Fountain, as well as a few of our wonderful freelancers. And I know our readers love to take their own pictures, and share them, and we’d love to see theirs on our website as well and on our Facebook page.

Thanks, Louie.

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