Archive for May, 2012

State Parks: Calendar of Events

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

This is the time of year when everyone wants to be outdoors. And our state park guide Bryan Frasier says you can find out what opportunities await you at parks when you visit the online calendar of events.

52—One of the most visited parts of the state park website is the calendar of events. People simply want to know what can I do with my family once I get to the park. Yeah, we know where there’s great hiking trails, and the campsite are big with great scenery and great backdrops right along the lake or the river and the trees. But there’s a whole other list of things to do once you get to the park. And a lot of these are lead by park rangers and park staff or park volunteers or even master naturalists. And they range, everything from fishing programs with a park ranger, nature hikes, birding tours, and night walks through the park. And once we get into May an on into the summer, we have those just about every weekend in lots of parks. So, we encourage people to go to the calendar of events on the state parks website—that’s—and find out just what’s going on. You might be surprised.

Thanks Bryan. Make reservations when you log onto

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.

Bats and Agriculture

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Millions of Mexican Free-tailed bats are back in Texas where they will bear young and eat tons of pesky insects.

05—The Mexican free-tailed bat in particular is really valuable for agricultural purposes.

Meg Goodman is a bat biologist.

13—Current research has shown that these bats can save farmers up to two sprays of pesticides per year because of all the insect pests that they’re eating. They’re eating things like the corn earworm moth and the cotton boll worm moth, among other crop pest species.

In addition to eating their weight in crop pests and other annoying insects, their nightly flights from inside caves and under bridges attract tourists.

14—Just their numbers and nightly emergences bring in a lot of tourist dollars to a lot of small communities and big communities like Austin. It’s one of our top tourist destinations right here in Austin. But they do provide a lot of dollars through nature tourism through a lot of our smaller communities throughout the state.

The Ann Richards Congress AV Bridge in Austin is home to more than 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats.

Beginning in late spring, people line the bridge to witness adult bats emerge about sunset and head to the agricultural land east of Austin where they begin their nightly feeding.

Our show receives support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program…which funds conservation projects throughout Texas.

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

Bats are Back

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Some people will always be afraid of bats no matter what.

04—A lot of people fear bats because of a lot of myths and superstitions associated with them.

Meg Goodman is a bat biologist. She says bats will not intentionally entangle themselves in your hair, or do any of the other bad bat behavior for which they receive blame.

08—We do a lot of work to get the message across that bats are actually very, very beneficial for us, and they’re very gentle creatures and very interesting to learn about and learn from.

Good news for bats is that people are slowly beginning to appreciate them. In fact, certain bats such as the Mexican free-tail that winters in Mexico and summers in Texas, have a following of fans in certain cities statewide.

12—The Mexican free-tailed bat is probably one of our most common bats in the state, and people know it because it lives in such large numbers in places such as bridges and caves and makes nightly emergences that many people can come out and watch.

Tomorrow Meg Goodman returns to talk about how bats can save farmers money on pest control.

05—The Mexican free-tailed bat, in particular, is really valuable for agricultural purposes.

That’s out show. The Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration program supports our series and funds conservation project throughout Texas.

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

Plan Bee

Monday, May 28th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Once twin sisters Markley and Louisa Ehrlich (UR-lick), seniors at Austin High in Austin, learned about colony collapse disorder—a phenomenon that causes the death of honeybee colonies—they wanted to do something to help.

05—So, I decided to call Texas Parks and Wildlife and they connected me with him.

“Him” is invertebrate biologist, Michael Warriner. Markley says they originally wanted to build a hive for European honeybees as a class project. But Warriner suggested an alternative.

05—I steered them more toward making bee blocks in that it helps native bees.

Native bees do not use hives or make honey. Some, called solitary bees, will use the bee blocks—hefty pieces of untreated lumber drilled with holes—in which to lay their eggs. Louisa Ehrlich says bee blocks are safe in suburban backyards as solitary bees won’t defend their nests; plus, they’re an asset to agriculture.

07—And so, it really surprised me that there were these local solitary bees that, in fact, are heavier pollinators than the honeybees.

In a one acre orchard, for example, two hundred solitary bees are more effective pollinators than 10,000 European honey bees. The girls, with the help of their brother, made and marketed two dozen bee nesting blocks. They’re donating the money they raise to pollinator conservation through the Houston Zoo.

Make your own bee block. Find out how at For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

State Parks: Longhorn Cavern

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This is Passport to Texas

Nature provides recreational opportunities above ground and below. Our State park guide, Bryan Frasier, tells us about one park that’s underground, but still on the radar, thanks to some renovations.

57—Longhorn Cavern is a real special place; it’s been popular for thousands of years. The history is colorful because it has everything that included outlaw Sam Bass, all the way into the Civil War it was used as a shelter. And Longhorn Cavern State Park was built and renovated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s; it opened as a park in 1932. And it’s been needing some renovation, and we’ve renovated the lighting in heat and restored some of the CCC stuff. It’s a guided tour down into these caves and caverns. You get the full insight into what happened and why those caves are there in central Texas. It’s right near the Highland Lakes-it’s not far from Inks Lake State Park. So check out Longhorn Cavern State Park. And it is a unique state park. Most people think of state parks as things that happen above ground, but this one is a nice 68 degrees year-round, underground. And a great place to take the kids to see the cave features and the tour there. It’s a favorite of a lot of people and for good reason.

Thanks Bryan. Make reservations when you log onto
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.