Archive for December, 2012

Outdoor Resolution: Healthier

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Image courtesy of Children and Nature Network

Image courtesy of Children and Nature Network

This is Passport to Texas

There’s big push to get children outdoors. But kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from fresh air and sunshine. Survey says: People of all ages – young and old – can achieve a better quality of life by spending time in the wide open spaces…as well as the forested spaces…or watery spaces…or even urban spaces with a patch of green. Outreach and Education director, Nancy Herron, shares some thoughts.

38— When you spend time outdoors you can be healthier, happier and smarter. What do we mean by that? Well, actually there is a lot of research that’s out there that shows that people of all ages actually do have benefits from being outside in nature, and that does include improvements to your health, your stress level, your sense of self esteem and confidence. Even being more cooperative. Can you believe that? Communities are more cooperative; families bond better in the out of doors. These are interesting things that we now know that we took for granted, and we just didn’t realize. That there’s a whole bevy of benefits from being outdoors.

Nancy Herron returns next week to offer New Year’s resolutions that will get you outdoors and help to make you and yours healthier… happier…and smarter.

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

Resolutions: Healthier…Happier…Smarter

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Image courtesy of Children and Nature Network

Image courtesy of Children and Nature Network

This is Passport to Texas

Healthier…happier…smarter: That’s what Texas Parks and Wildlife Outreach and Education Director Nancy Herron says you will be when you commit to spending time outdoors.

03— There’s a whole bevy of benefits from being outdoors.

Over the next several days Nancy joins us and suggests resolutions you might embrace for a healthier, happier, and even smarter New Year. Today we focus on health.

60— One of the most fun resolutions is to get a little dose of “vitamin N” every day – and that’s vitamin Nature. Being outdoors in nature, even 30 minutes a day, will make a big difference. If you get outside and take a nice walk, a stroll in the park. If you break it up even in three ten minute chunks, it just helps in a lot of ways physically. It reduces your stress. I have seen you taking a little stroll around the building before. I do try and take a little break. And you know we actually know that little walk around the block – wherever it is – there’s nature everywhere. There’s nearby nature in a city block. Just getting outdoors, just getting a little fresh air – even if you’re checking out the sky and making some shapes out of the clouds: it’s a good break for you and gets you physically moving. And that’s the biggest problem we have is we’re just not moving around. So, let’s get outside and move. And it’s as simple as thirty minutes a day, three ten minute breaks. Give yourself some recess and have fun.

Tomorrow it’s a brand New Year, and we get happy.

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

Wildlife: Quail Decline, 2

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Quail Habitat

Quail Habitat

Passport to Texas with support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

When it comes to quail, TPW biologist, Robert Perez, says they’ve had it rough. Habitat fragmentation and drought beat them up in Texas. Working with adjacent landowners to manage their properties for quail is helping to address fragmentation – but what about drought?

26— Where it’s dry, what you can do is be proactive. And so you have proactive strategies for drought, which is leaving residual cover; leaving standing grasses; leaving standing vegetation and not mowing it down; shredding it, or putting cattle on it or other livestock that will remove that vegetation. So you have to have something standing there for them, which is difficult to do in a drought. But there are areas that you can protect. And those quail will kind of hole up in those refugia until things turn around.

Thanks to a new grant from the Wildlife Restoration program, Robert Perez says the agency can now monitor the recovery efforts to help these native game birds.

20–By monitoring I mean you need to go in and count how many animals there are on the front end, and then you have your treatment or your improvements. You then continue counting and seeing if there is actual response by that species. So, we just got a grant from the Pittman Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act Fund – a federal grant – to go in and start measuring the impacts of our works at three different locations in the state over the next four years.

And we’ll follow along and report on their progress.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series and funds diverse conservation programs throughout Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Wildlife: Quail Decline, 1

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Bobwhite quail, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Bobwhite quail, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Passport to Texas with support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

The northern bobwhite quail may have the largest range among the four quail species found in Texas, but it is also the most threatened.

07— Bobwhites are the big concern as far as our constituents go for parks and Wildlife, and its populations have been in decline range wide.

TPW biologist, Robert Perez, says population decline isn’t new for the bobwhite.

17–In recent history in the 40s, for instance – in the 1940s post WWII – bobwhites were very abundant in east Texas. But since that time they’ve all but disappeared from east Texas and other pine woodlands across the SE United States. And that big decline has continues as you go west across Texas; little by little as time goes by.

If you were to draw a line along the I-35 corridor from Dallas to San Antonio, quail habitat east of that line is highly fragmented.

13– A lot of the native types of grasses and prairies have been replaced by other things; either concrete or by exotic grasses like Mexia or Bermuda, things that quail don’t live in. So, that’s really the main reason of decline in those areas of the state.

Quail need a minimum of 1,000 acres of appropriate, un-fragmented habitat to maintain a viable population. West of I-35, plentiful habitat that includes the bunchgrasses quail need, still exists… but years of drought has taken its toll on the land and the birds.

04– Quail just don’t have that longevity where they can wait through those long drought periods.

More on that tomorrow. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series and funds diverse conservation programs throughout Texas.

History: Texas Time Off

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Fulton Mansion, image from

Fulton Mansion, image from

This is Passport to Texas

We have something in common with early Texans.

06 – Christmas and the month of December—in large part—was the time when Texans gathered.

Cynthia Brandimarte is program director for Texas historic sites. Unlike today when a short trip by car or plane will get us to our holiday destination, travel was difficult for early Texans.

09 – And so when you traveled, you tended to stay. People had time at Christmas to do that—to travel and spend weeks.

Which makes the few days that most of us get off at Christmas seem like a rip off. And early Texans made good use of this block of time.

08 – It was then that they celebrated not only Christmas, but other special events, and planned weddings for the month of December.

Since Texas was mostly rural in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, and there wasn’t a lot of farming that could happen in December…

15 – It almost gave 19th Century and early 20th Century rural Texans an excuse not to work. And thus to play a bit more, and socialize a bit more, than they had time to do many other months of the year.

How will you spend your time off this holiday season? How about making a little time to enjoy the great outdoors?

From all of us at Passport to Texas, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.