Archive for January, 2012

Invasives: Zebra Mussels

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

There are two types of aquatic mussels in Texas: those that belong here, and those that don’t.

Texas Parks and Wildlife aquatic habitat enhancement director Earl Chilton says native mussels indicate when rivers and lakes are healthy.

10—Native mussels often have pretty strict environmental requirements, and you can tell whether a system is healthy or not by the kind of native mussel population it has.

Invasive species like zebra mussels aren’t native to Texas. Because they have no natural competitors here, they reproduce quickly. And large numbers of zebra mussels can clog pipes and even kill native mussels.

14—Unlike native mussels, zebra mussels have byssal threads they use to attach to various objects. They also can attach to native mussels and when enough of them attach to a native mussel they can actually suffocate that mussel.

So how can you tell the difference between these good and bad mussels?

07—Zebra mussels are small and they’re going to attach to things. If you see a mussel attached to something it is a non-native mussel.

But native freshwater mussels don’t attach to anything. Now that you know the difference, you can find out how you can help stop the spread of zebra mussels and protect the native species

That’s our show… the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program supports our series… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

State Parks: Campfires Allowed

Monday, January 30th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Starting a campfire in a state park this past summer wasn’t just a bad idea, it was terribly dangerous given the drought, and so it was banned. But now that winter’s here and we’ve had some rain, we can start to cozy up to campfires again. Our State Park Guide Bryan Frazier has details.

48— With the drought that we had in Texas, most people are understanding that that affects everything we do. And at the end of the summer—at the apex of that drought—we had burn bans in more than 200 counties here in Texas.

But now we’ve had enough rain in the fall and the early part of the winter that a lot of those burn bans have been lifted.

The campfire is an undeniable part of our tradition of sitting around it and not just cooking and roasting marshmallows and telling stories, but it really becomes the social centerpiece of the camping experiences around the campfire. In the wintertime, you know, it helps to keep you warm, too.

And so it’s a nice natural place to gather. So having those burn bans lifted in most of our counties is really good news for a lot of people who want to get out and enjoy an old fashioned campfire for their camping experience.

Thanks Bryan.

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet, supporting outdoor recreation in Texas; because there’s life to be done.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife: Year of the Lizard

Friday, January 27th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

The non-profit Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, or PARC, designated 2012 as the Year of the Lizard.

06—Lizards are a group of organisms that scientists have said: you know, we really haven’t paid much attention to what’s going on with them.

Biologist, Leeann Linam, oversees the Texas Nature Tracker program for Parks and Wildlife. When lizard populations are thriving—or not—chances are they are mirroring the environmental conditions in which they live. Because of this, they deserve our attention.

Leeann says putting the spotlight on these cold-blooded creatures may help us warm to them.

14—if you stop and watch a lizard, they’re really an interesting creature. And I think that’s what the challenge is for us—to spend enough time outside to really observe them. If you zoom in on them, and take a closer look, they’re just really fascinating—like mini dinosaurs.

So how does one best observe the year of the lizard?

14—At Parks and Wildlife we we’ve got some ways for people to participate. For example, our Texas Horned Lizard Watch asks people to become partners with us in monitoring what’s going on with our state reptile—the Texas Horned Lizard—and the other two horned lizard species that are found in the state.

Find links to information about the Year of the Lizard, and the Texas Horned Lizard Watch at

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

Wildlife: Herpetology

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Herpetology is a branch of zoology concerned with amphibians and reptiles. Although scientists classify both as herps, Leeann Linam says differences exist.

16—Amphibians are the species that are associated with water in their life-cycle. [They’re] smooth skinned, and usually lay their eggs in water and often have a larval stage such as a tadpole for a frog. So frogs, salamanders, and an interesting creature called the caecilian are amphibians.

Leeann is a biologist with Parks and Wildlife. Reptiles are those species that have scales and tend to lay their eggs on land in dry nests, and have hard-shelled eggs.

13—And so we have several divisions of reptiles as well. We have the turtles, we have the lizards, and we have the snakes… And then there are a few other groups. The crocodilians and some others that are kind of unique.

Of the reptiles, says Leeann, scientists agree they need to give them more consideration.

14—Lizards are a group of organisms that scientists have said: you know, we really haven’t paid much attention to what’s going on with them. They are mostly eating insects in the environment, and so one can perhaps think of them as being sensitive to things like pesticides and habitat loss, as well as direct persecution, or killing, as areas are changed in terms of their use.

Tomorrow: The Year of the Lizard.

That’s our show with support from the wildlife restoration program…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW Magazine: Digital Fishing Issue

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

If you fancy yourself a fisherman, or think it’s time you found out what all the fuss is about, Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine has a treat this February. Editor, Louie Bond explains.

60—You know, we’re really excited this February to offer our readers something new and different.

We’ve cut down to ten issues this year, but to replace those two printed issues, we have two new digital guides, and the first one is coming out this month, and it will be all about fishing. And, unlike our usual print issue, which combines a variety of articles on different topics, this is all about fishing and is available only online.

And, we’re excited to have Steve Lightfoot writing a fishing forecast for us for the first time this year. Especially with the drought this year, we wonder what are our local fishing holes going to be like. And Steve looks at the positive side of drought, which—believe it or not—there’s quite a positive side for many anglers; there might be some really great fish caught this year.

We’re also taking a look at underwater structure, which attracts a lot of great fish, and we’ll also have some handy tips on how to avoid bringing those nasty invasive plants to your local lake and fouling it up for future fishing.

So, this is the beginning of a new tradition for Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. We hope everybody will check in on the fishing guide this month, and then back again in the fall for our hunting guide.

Louie says the online digital guide is accessible to everyone.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series with funds from your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

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