Archive for July, 2011

Geocahing in State Parks

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Most smart phones are GPS enabled. And you can use that technology to your advantage when you participate in the Geocache Challenge. Our State Park Guide, Bryan Frazier has details.

Geocaching, for people who may not know about it, combines treasure hunt and scavenger hunt with outdoor recreation. And you find either little or big caches that are hidden by using a hand held GPS device.

It’s great for families—for people old and young—to get outside, to use technology, and find these little caches, and there’s a login book that they sign. The Texas Geocache Challenge is all summer long and there are 89 State parks that are participating in this.

And for this challenge, you can download the Texas Geocache Challenge from our website and check off all of the caches that you find, and send it into Texas Parks and Wildlife for prizes like geo coins that are commemorative, or stickers, or all kinds of things—especially that kids love. It’s a great way to really marry technology and outdoor recreation.

Thanks, Bryan.

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.

Taking Down Tilapia

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

When you hear the word tilapia, you may think of a savory meal with lemon butter sauce, but you probably don’t think of the term “invasive species.”

11—The tilapia are great to eat. They’re raised as a food fish, and they’re quite tasty. They’re quite popular in restaurants. But the problem is when they’re in our natural waters they are upsetting the ecosystem.

Tilapia have been in Texas for decades. They were originally brought in as a food source to be raised in fish farms, but eventually made they’re way into Texas waters.

Gary Garrett, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist, says tilapia can be a threat to large mouth bass and other native species.

16—They build big pit nests and in doing that they stir up a lot of the settlement. And it’s been shown, for example, with large mouth bass, all that sediment stirred up and settling back down will often kill large mouth bass eggs.

When tilapia do this, they can potentially damage the entire ecosystem because of the intricate food chain.

Texas Parks and Wildlife does have state regulations for tilapia, but because tilapia are found all over the state, they are difficult to control. But if you like to fish, Garrett says you can help.

03—Don’t throw them back. If you catch them, keep them.

So next time you catch a tilapia, turn on the grill and get cooking. You’ll be doing yourself and the Texas ecosystem a favor. The SF Restoration program supports our series…and works to increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

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

A Man with a Dream

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

David Bamberger knows something a lot of us don’t.

11—Grass on the ground is the biggest single, and the least expensive, and the quickest responding conservation measure that one can do.

That’s because the root systems hold water. After 40 years, countless man hours and tens of thousands of dollars spent reseeding with native grasses—water is plentiful on the once parched 55-hundred acre Blanco County ranch. Now Bamberger has a new project.

09—The idea behind this project is to capture all the water that falls here, and to keep that little perched aquifer charged up.

This perched aquifer is almost entirely on his property. Bamberger is bulldozing depressions into the tops of his limestone hills to catch rain.

21—And so when rain falls on the tops—and these are very shallow calcareous type soils—it quickly runs off. So, what we’re doing is we’re creating what I call water pans (I want 12 miles of those), about eight foot wide and eight to ten inches deep. When rain falls, it’ll fall into that pan and can sit there long enough to soak in.

And recharge the aquifer. The octogenarian says the project includes plans for 26-miles of terraced rock berms on the hillsides to further impede runoff.

06—When I explained this to the staff here, I said it’s going to take us 10 years. When you see it, you’re going to know why.

Find out how you can visit Bamberger Ranch at

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Water from Rock

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Forty years ago a soil conservation service technician told David Bamberger he’d purchased the worst piece of land in Blanco County. But Bamberger had a plan.

06—We were wanting to demonstrate and try to develop a model that perhaps other people could follow.

Bamberger, and his late wife Margaret, created a conservation model by dedicating themselves to restoring ecological balance… including flowing water…to their fifty-five hundred acre ranch.

09—Let me tell you, there wasn’t a drop of water here. There wasn’t anything in the way of wildlife. I drilled 7 water wells 500 foot deep; I never got a drop of water.

With careful land management, including the removal of 3-thousand acres of “wall-to-wall” cedars and seeding the land with native grasses…the land revived.

18—So, over this forty years, as the habitat was improved, we got 11 springs that started to run; after 7 years we had two creeks that were running. Today we have 22 ponds or tanks that weren’t here when I came. Two of them we call lakes because of their significant size.

This award-winning octogenarian conservationist’s latest project also involves water.

09—The idea behind this project is to capture all the water that falls here, and keep that little perched aquifer charged up.

We’ll learn more about that tomorrow.

That’s our show…made possible by a grant from the Wildlife Restoration Program…supporting habitat restoration in Texas…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Get Along Little (Prairie) Doggies

Monday, July 18th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Prairie dogs live in connected underground burrows called “towns,” which have been known to encompass up to 1,000 acres of land!

These colonies are divided into social groups usually consisting of one male, up to four females, and offspring that are less than two years of age.

Pat Bales, San Angelo SP Assistant Superintendent, says the animals are active only in daylight hours.

30—They’re most active during the cool hours of the day, during that time they’ll engage in the social activities- visiting, grooming, as well as feeding of grasses and herbs. And normally whenever they are out feeding like that, they’ll have a sentry and they’ll have a lookout. And their mounds are built up high. They’re kind of unique little engineers. They’ll build one mound, end of their mound higher than the other, and an out hole. The reason they do that: it creates a high pressure/low pressure situation which enables air to continuously flow through there. And down in the burrow itself, they’ll have little compartments where they can sleep, where they can feed.

Prairie dogs were indigenous to the San Angelo area, but various factors drastically reduced their population. Yet, thanks to dedicated prairie pup lovers – they’re back.

04—Actually, we have 2 towns- we’ve established one on the north side and south side of the park.

See a video of the park and the prairie dogs on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel.

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