Archive for July, 2013

State Parks: Paddling Trails

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Paddling Trail, Image courtesy

Paddling Trail, Image courtesy

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is home to more than 50 inland and coastal paddling trails – some of which are in state parks.

10— We took one at Caddo lake last summer. It is a swamp-like creature. It is neat, though. And then, I’ve been down to some at the coast; those are nice down there, too.

Terry Rodgers is park superintendent at Inks Lake State Park in the Hill Country; arguably one of the most popular parks in the system. He says its 831 acre lake is not yet part of the TPW paddling trails system, but – he adds — that doesn’t leave would-be paddlers high and dry.

13— We stay busy at Inks trying to educate people. We have a canoe clinic, where actually we teach people how to paddle and then we take them out on a little interpretive tour of Devil Waterhole and some of the different areas there.

The paddling trails team is identifying potential trails on Inks Lake. Meantime, there are opportunities for paddlers of all skill levels to get on the water at this scenic park – day or night.

17— We have a program that is just really neat. We call it the moonlight paddle; we take people out at night. Those are for the more experienced canoers and kayakers. You have to be 18 years [old] and we prefer [you] to be experienced. And so, it is a blast; it’s very educational, too.

Registration is required for these paddling programs.

Support provided by Ram Trucks. Doing what’s right and good regardless of the degree of difficulty — takes guts. Those are the people who build Ram trucks. RAM.

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

Fish/Conservation: Value of Artificial Reefs

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Divers exploring artificial reef in Texas Gulf

Divers exploring artificial reef in Texas Gulf

This is Passport to Texas

We call outdated oil rigs, decommissioned ships and other materials placed in the Gulf of Mexico (where they become marine habitat) artificial reefs.

06— Smaller type of organisms will attach to that and begin the basics of a food web.

Dale Shively oversees the Artificial Reef program for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Small marine organisms — which are always in the gulf, but diffuse — become concentrated on reefed materials, which in turn attract a variety of fish species.

06— So, you’re basically giving the marine environment a base, or foundation to get started on.

Artificial reefs – in federal and state waters – create improved angling and diving opportunities; that brings dollars to coastal communities.

13—By creating artificial reefs, we’ve helped to increase those populations of marine life, and basically give divers and anglers more opportunities to experience those types of things out in the gulf.

These man made reefs will last for many decades, enhancing the ecosystem and angling for generations to come.

11— Unless they’re a migratory species, once fish and marine life have acclimated to that area, and start to reproduce, then they’ll stay there and will spend most of their life in that one particular area.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series and is funded by your purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.

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

Fish/Conservation: Artificial Reef Program

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Fish inhabit reefed oil platform.

Fish inhabit reefed oil platform.

This is Passport to Texas

All year long we’re highlighting milestones achieved by Texas Parks and Wildlife during its 50 year history as an agency. Today, we recognize the Artificial Reef Program.

09— The program officially started in 1989 when the Texas Legislature tasked Parks and Wildlife to preserve marine life out in the gulf of Mexico.

Program leader, Dale Shively, says the Artificial Reef program started in earnest following approval of its management plan in1990.

14—An artificial reef is an environment where we take man made materials like concrete and steel, ships and oil platforms…and position those within a reef area to mimic a natural reef environment.

Artificial reefs provide hard substrate otherwise lacking in the gulf. The materials immediately attract marine life.

16—In most cases, marine organisms will attach and create an ecosystem within a few days. In some cases such as oil platforms, those platforms have been out there for thirty some years. So, they’re pretty well covered with marine life before we do anything to them.

Artificial reefing benefits sport fishing and the Texas economy – that’s tomorrow.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series and is funded by your purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.

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

Recreation: Nature Tourism

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Bastrop State park, Image by Robert McCorkle

Bastrop State Park, Image by Robert McCorkle

This is Passport to Texas

When you engage the outdoors — whether camping, paddling, bird watching, hunting, fishing, or any number of activities – you’re participating in nature tourism.

07— Nature tourism, quite simply, is going out and traveling based on natural resources.

Shelly Plante oversees Nature Tourism for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

16— Nature tourism in Texas is booming. Wildlife viewing has been skyrocketing; people are doing more and more bird watching, people are doing wildlife photography, camping at our state parks, hiking. We’ve become so urban that I feel people are really just looking for a way to reconnect with the outdoors.

Plante says city squirrels, pigeons and community pools just don’t cut it anymore for urban dwellers. That’s good news for people in rural communities.

20— These nature tourism opportunities give rural communities a way to step in, market themselves, make activities available and easy for people to do: everything from paddling trails and wildlife trails, to photography opportunities on private ranches. Texas has it all, and it is definitely great income for private landowners, and great for the income of local businesses.

Find nature tourism opportunities on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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.

Foraging: Stalking the Wild Harvest

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Wild Mustang Grapes, Image Aggie Horticulture

Wild Mustang Grapes, Image Aggie Horticulture

This is Passport to Texas

Before trudging into the woods with dreams of foraging wild persimmons or mustang grapes, remember: leave some for the wildlife.

09—When you’re a gatherer, it’s kind of like being a hunter: you should only take what you think you can use; although, I have been known to get fourteen gallons of wild grapes.

Dyanne Cortez writes about gathering and using wild Texas fruit for the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

15—Well, a lot of things grow in pretty wild places. So, you need to be aware of snakes; wear boots; be aware of your surroundings. You’re out in the field. There’s going to be sun; there might be poison ivy. You’re really out stalking the wild harvest.

Learn about edible Texas plants before going out; the Native Plant Society of Texas and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center are great resources for that. Cortez, meantime, advises about where to find wild fruit.

24—It is not legal to collect any plant or plant part in a state park or a national park. It can be a challenge because you see this stuff in the parks and it’s very tempting, but you don’t do that. Go for private land; look in your own backyard. Ask your friends. It’s so much fun when it’s all done. It’s just really worth it, and it’s so neat to know what nature has to offer.

Dyanne Cortez’ article about gathering and using wild fruit is in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

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