Archive for June, 2014

TPW TV: Tent Revival

Monday, June 30th, 2014

This is Passport to Texas

When Ryan Spencer worked for Texas parks and Wildlife, he connected people with nature via the Texas Outdoor Family Program.

05— I work out of a trailer and we go all over the state. It’s a unique office, but I really love it.

Ryan currently manages the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin. But when he was with Texas Parks and Wildlife, he would…

04— …go from park to park and show people how to go camping for the first time.

Studies show that when children spend time outside with their families they are healthier, happier and smarter. In addition, the family bond grows stronger.

08— They have better family cohesion. So that means, that children who spend more time with their parents outside, become nicer teenagers when they grow up.

And it all starts with engaging the outdoors as a family.

12— We teach about “Leave No Trace” and how to protect the environment while you’re out there enjoying it. We want to give them some skills that they can repeat on their own when they come back from the state park. So, things like cooking on a camp stove; setting up a tent.

To find a Texas Outdoor Family Workshop, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

And tune into the Texas parks and Wildlife PBS TV series this week to see Ryan Spencer in action teaching families about the outdoors. Check your local listings.

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

Angling: Value of Artificial Reefs

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Beauty of artificial reef

Beauty of artificial reef

This is Passport to Texas

An article by Melissa Gaskill in the June issue of Texas parks and Wildlife magazine, explores the value of artificial reefs. These are retired structures like oil platforms that create much-needed hard substrate in the gulf. She asks whether the reefs increase marine populations, or simply aggregate existing populations.

07— The first thing that happens when you put any kind of structure in the water is that fish species will congregate around it; they’re attracted to that.

Dale Shively is Texas Parks and Wildlife program leader for artificial reefs. He says congregating is just the beginning.

20— There also is production that goes on. Once you get that marine life growing, you’re creating an ecosystem. You’re not only bringing fish species in, but they stay there, live there, they spawn there. You can find the juveniles on there. That doesn’t mean that some of those fish species don’t migrate away at times. But they actually use it for various life stages.

Through a monitoring program, Shively says they’re attempting to quantify various fish species by relative abundance.

21— There is also a debate about how valuable are oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. There are a lot of fishermen who claim that you remove these and you’re destroying the red snapper population. There’s another school of thought that the red snapper were here originally without the oil platforms. But, there’s no doubt that the red snapper population has increased since we have more structure out there.

Read about this debate in the June issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our Series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Angling: Artificial Reefs

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Diving near an artificial reef.

Diving near an artificial reef.

This is Passport to Texas

What do concrete, decommissioned ships and retired oil platforms have in common? They’re all materials used to create artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. But if you ask Dale Shively which is best material for creating this marine habitat, he says: it depends.

04— We have all of those materials in our program, and they all serve a different purpose.

Shively is Texas Parks and Wildlife program leader for artificial reefs.

27— Farther off shore, we have mainly petroleum platforms. They’re solid, stable, and durable. They’re massive structures that give a lot of area to invertebrate growth and bring in a lot of fish species. Ships that we put out are good habitat, but they’re also primarily to bring in diving opportunities. And then as you move in closer to shore, in our near shore reefs, we use a lot of concrete – bridge rubble and things like that – that are good for fishing.

The reefs create habitat for marine species, and this leads to better angling and diving opportunities.

12— What we’ve seen with the Texas Clipper project, is that economic returns for angling could be over a million dollars a year back to the local economy. Whereas diving could be several million.

Find an article on the value of artificial reefs in the June issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our Series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Invasives: Clean, Drain and Dry

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Box of zebra mussels.

Box of zebra mussels.

This is Passport to Texas

Arriving in the ballast of ships from Eastern Europe, zebra mussels reached the Great Lakes in the 1980s.

05— They’ve been pretty steadily moving across much of the eastern and central portion of the United States.

Inland fisheries biologist Brian Van Zee says they arrived in Lake Texoma in 2009; and occupy waters of 6 lakes in north and Central Texas.

10—They’re primarily moved from water body to water body by boaters, who don’t take the time to clean, drain and dry when heading from an infested lake to a non-infested lake.

As filter feeders Zebra Mussels impact the aquatic food chain and compete for plankton. They clog water intake pipes of municipal utility districts, causing significant increases in maintenance and operational costs. It’s vital boaters clean, drain and dry their boats after every outing.

19—We recommend boaters dry their boats for at least a week before they go from one lake to the next. If they pull the plug out of the bottom of the boat, lower the engines down, and make sure there’s no water in them, and make sure the live wells are empty, and open those compartments up and let them dry in between going from one lake to the next, you really reduce that risk of moving zebra mussels from one lake to another.

At this time, clean, drain and dry is the law in 47 Texas counties, and could expand to statewide. [NOTE: Since the program was first produced, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission met and approved a new regulation requiring that all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained before leaving or approaching a lake or river to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. The new measure takes effect July 1, 2014.]

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Paddling: Kayak Safety

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Safety first when on the water.

Safety first when on the water.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting others first is a selfless act, but when it comes to being on the water, Rob Owen says: you are number one!

03— Look after yourself first, and be safe about your decision-making.

That just means if you’re going out on a canoe or kayak be prepared, aware and set a good example. Owen works on the Parks and Wildlife Texas Outdoor Family and Texas Outdoor Education team.

17— Take along with you what you need for your day. Taking water is especially important. Sunscreen also; there’s nothing worse than a beet red sunburn on the end of a paddle trip – I’ve been there. Additionally, a life jacket and a whistle are two very important pieces of equipment for being on the water.

Having a lifejacket on board is one thing; wearing it while you’re underway is another.

10— As we like to say: Nobody’s Waterproof. You never know what’s going to happen when you fall out of the boat. So, it’s always a good idea to have that insurance policy. So, have that lifejacket on at all times [when you’re on the water].

Log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to find safety information, paddling 101 workshops, and where you can rent paddling gear.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

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