Archive for December, 2013

Texas History: Christmas Trees in Texas

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Christmas Tree inside Saur-Beckmann State Historic Site

Christmas Tree inside Saur-Beckmann State Historic Site

This is Passport to Texas

The custom of decorating trees for Christmas took root in German villages during the sixteenth century.

07—A lot of Germans, as you know, settled Texas. And they brought a tradition with them of the tabletop Christmas tree.

Cynthia Brandimarte is program director for Texas historic sites.

12—When you look at interior photographs of Texas houses, you see many tabletop Christmas trees ornamented for the season, particularly in German households in the late nineteenth century Texas.

Ornaments were handmade then, and small gifts often dangled from branches. Eventually, the tabletop conifer gave way to larger trees that became “floor models,” and the decorations sometimes mirrored the day’s events.

22—You saw more and more seven or eight feet trees that were placed on the floor. And because we had just ended the Spanish American war in victory, there was a fashion in the early part of the twentieth century to decorate trees with a few American flags here and there. We have photographic evidence for that.

If you celebrate Christmas, we wish you a joyous holiday. And if you do not, then it’s the perfect opportunity to spend time in nature, because Life’s Better Outside.

That’s our show… we record our series at the Block House in Austin, Texas.

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

TPW TV: The JA Ranch

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

JA Ranch

JA Ranch

This is Passport to Texas

Andrew Bivins uses technology to manage his land.

11— He can tell you what kind of method they used. He can tell you how much it cost per acre. The amount of information he’s been able to incorporate into his databases is unheard of.

Bivins is managing partner of the historic JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle, founded by Charles Goodnight and Bivins’ ancestor, John Adair. Texas Parks and Wildlife TV’s Ron Kabele produced a segment for the series about this fifth generation rancher.

05—When it comes to using computers and new technologies – Andrew gets it.

Bivins, a 2013 Lone Star Land Steward Award winner uses available GPS technology to keep track of his work on the property. This includes removing invasive woody species and prescribed burns to return the land to the prairie habitat it once was.

17—It’s a very long-term strategy. It will be my lifetime of working on it – and it will be my son’s lifetime of working on it. And hopefully, our grandchildren will have a ranch that’s more of a prairie than what my son and I will have.

Bivins has a detailed database of brushwork done on the ranch. Each acre he reclaims for prairie habitat translates into untold savings in water.

08— Everything out here is in competition for the little water we get. Pulling the woody invasive species out allows more water for the grasses.

This segment airs on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series the week of December 29.

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

TPW Magazine/Invasives: Eating Lionfish

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Lionfish, photo by CHASE FOUNTAIN TPWD 2013

Lionfish, photo by CHASE FOUNTAIN TPWD 2013

This is Passport to Texas

Popular among saltwater aquarium enthusiasts, the beautiful and venomous Lionfish – native to reefs in the South Pacific –ended up in South Atlantic waters where no predators exist.

06—Mainly nothing eats them because their coloring and their appearance says ‘danger’ to other animals.

Melissa Gaskill is a science and travel writer living in Austin. Considered invasive, Lionfish – known as voracious eaters and prolific breeders—outcompete and eat native gulf species. Gaskill says it’s time humans make short work – and dinner—of Lionfish.

08—This is one of the few fish where authorities encourage you to catch and eat as many as you can. There’s no limit; the more the better.

Florida holds Lionfish derbies where people remove the fish in bulk from gulf waters. Gaskill says if you bring one to shore, steer clear of the venomous fin tips. She says if you want to eat lionfish without the risk…

21— Well, the easiest way is to get a commercial fishery going and order it in a restaurant. And I think that will eventually happen – and it’s delicious, so that will be a good thing. In the meantime, certainly most of the derbies people spearfish; and actually lionfish are really easy to spearfish because they don’t dart away. You know, they’re top of the food chain type behavior and they just sort of sit there looking at you saying like, ‘Yeah. Bring it on.’

Melissa Gaskill’s article on lionfish appears in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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

TPW Magazine/Invasive: Lionfish

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Lionfish, CHASE FOUNTAIN, TPWD ©2013

Lionfish, CHASE FOUNTAIN, TPWD ©2013

This is Passport to Texas

Since 1986, scientists have followed the spread of Lionfish from the south Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico.

04— So far their effect in the Gulf has been minimal; but that will change.

Melissa Gaskill is a science and travel writer living in Austin. She wrote an article about the potential problem of Lionfish for the December issue of TPW Magazine, on newsstands now.

11—They’re very voracious eaters, and they eat everything and anything. They eat all kinds of fish; they’ll eat anything that can fit in their mouth. And they’ll eat and eat and eat, and just grow and grow and grow. And nothing eats them.

We may have saltwater aquarium enthusiasts to “thank” for the current Lionfish situation.

07— Someone probably got fed up with their pet lionfish eating all of their other pet fish and just decided to dump them in the south Atlantic.

In addition to the species’ voracious appetite, it’s also a prolific breeder.

23— They spawn more often than most reef fish; they also spawn in pairs. And when they reproduce, their little fishies drift on currents; so it’s inevitable they’d end up in this part of the Gulf given prevailing currents. And scientists and divers have been able to watch this gradual and not so gradual spread. They were first seen out around the Flower Gardens, and now they’ve been seen closer to our coast.

Tomorrow: managing this invasive species with butter and lemon.

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

Angling: Winter Fishing

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Jetty fishing at sunrise

Jetty fishing at sunrise

This is Passport to Texas

Saltwater anglers don’t have to keep their gear in storage until summer.

06—Texas has year-round saltwater fishing and it’s very productive, even in the worst of weather.

While the majority of saltwater anglers cast for redfish, flounder and speckled trout, professional fishing guide and outdoor writer, Danno Wise, recommends casting a wider net, so to speak. He says there are plenty of different fish in the sea.

40—Down here in the Rio Grande Valley is the only place in the continental United States outside of South Florida there’s a fishable population of snook year round. They’re sensitive to cold so they’re going to go into the deeper portions of our bay systems, but because the fish will be concentrated, we have excellent snook fishing during the winter time. We also have a substantial amount of beachfront fishing which is kind of overlooked. Whiting, which is a simple kind of fish, and the pompano. Very tropical looking species; in Florida, they’re targeted very heavily. Fish such as those are plentiful and good eating, and if you want to target going out just to get out of the house, relax, and catch a few to take home to eat, those are excellent choices.

Grab your gear and some warm clothes and head to the coast this winter to reel in more than the usual suspects.

That’s our show…we receive support from the Sport Fish Restoration program…funded by your purchase of fishing equipment and motor boat fuel…. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.