Archive for March, 2012

State Parks: Interpretive Programs

Friday, March 30th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

You’ve heard the expression that every picture tells a story. Well, so does every state park—with the help of interpretive programs. Bryan Frazier explains.

62—I think what people find when they go to any state park is that that particular state park has a unique story to tell. And one of the most popular things at a state park is maybe one of the most undersold—and that is our interpretive programs.

And that’s everything from a birding hike, or a tour with a master naturalist about the native plants. Things that give education and enlightenment, but that are also really enjoyable for park visitors to just simply find out more about what’s going on in their state park.

And I do have to say that our state park staff here in Texas do an outstanding job. Almost all of these programs are listed on the parks’ individual websites under the calendar of events so you can plan it weeks or months out.

Sometimes these programs are free, and sometimes there’s a modest fee for these interpretive programs. But either way, I just really want to encourage people that when they’re outside and enjoying the state parks and the beauty of nature and getting out for spring—try to find out what interpretive programs are going on.

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.

Gear: Choosing Hiking Boots

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

While it’s tempting to wear flip flops and sandals when visiting state parks and natural areas, if your goal is to hike trails or tread through other wooded or rocky terrains, you’ll need something sturdier and safer on your feet.

Choose the right shoe for the activity. If ambling along a relatively smooth, well maintained trail is your speed, then a light hiking shoe may suffice. They’re a more robust version of a running shoe, with great support and a flexible mid sole for comfort.

Next up is the hiking boot. These can be mid or high cut and take a little time to break in. Both mid cut and high cut boots wrap around the ankle. High cut boots provide greater stability and support. Overall, hiking boots are good to wear on day hikes when carrying light loads. If you commonly carry 40 pounds or more when hiking, a high cut boot will give you the best support.

Backpacking boots are the next boot in the lineup when it comes to support and durability. They generally have a stiff mid sole and may be mid to high cut to help prevent ankle roll when carrying heavier loads.

The sturdiest boot is the mountaineering boot. This is outdoor footwear at its most tough, supportive and durable. They’re heavier boots made to help you carry heavier loads. They’re also able to accommodate crampons should you find yourself scuttling up a glacier.

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

Nature: Why Wildflowers?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will be awash in colorful wildflowers soon. Dr. Damon Waitt, senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the built landscape as well as nature’s landscape.

61—Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators.

They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use. In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment.

There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape. That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at

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

Boating: Boater Education

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

The weather is beginning to warm up, and Texans are making plans to get out on the water. But before setting foot on deck, consider taking a boater education course.

15—There’s a lot more people on the water. We’ve seen a major increase in canoes and kayaks. So people out here have to share the waterways. And the rules are different than they are for rules of the road when you’re driving your vehicle. So, it’s just a good idea to know some of those rules and the differences.

Texans learn those rules and differences in boater education classes. Tim Spice, who oversees the program for Texas Parks and Wildlife, says while training is beneficial for everyone who plans to operate personal watercraft, or vessels over 15 horsepower, or wind-blown vessels over 14 feet—it is mandatory for some.

15—If you were born after September 1, 1993, you are required to have boater education certification with you to operate one of those boats we’ve mentioned. The easiest way right now to get that class is online. We have an online provider—Boat Texas—very good program.

Find a schedule of classes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

15—You can get on there, take the class, take the test, and then [if you pass], receive a temporary certification and you can go right out and immediately use the vessel legally. We have courses all over the state at our website, so you can come to our website [and sign up for a classroom instruction] if you prefer having an instructor help you out.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

TPW MAGAZINE: The Best of Texas’ Natural World

Monday, March 26th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

The April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine introduces readers to the best our state’s natural world has to offer… through the eyes of those who protect it. Editor, Louie Bond.

62—We’re doing our Annual Best of Texas feature, and we search out all the best natural things in Texas, whether it’s a kind of insect, or a kind of animal or a place to go or a great activity.

Last year we put in about two dozen of our [magazine] staff’s favorite picks. And this year we expanded to the entire Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and solicited ideas from employees out in the field: biologists, accountants, everybody who works at Parks and Wildlife.

And we’ve picked through and found some really great entries this year. So, there will be lots of suggestions for our readers to go out and find new places and have great new experiences.

We’re also featuring a great article by Russell Roe, our managing editor. He’s explaining how weather radar is now used to track wildlife like birds and bats and insects, and how they can track migration patterns, the affects of climate change and weather.

So we hope now that it’s spring and warm outside that everyone will get outside and visit some of these great places and learn more about the wild world.

Thanks, Louie.

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