Archive for May, 2016

Get to Know Purtis Creek State Park

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
Long shot of fishing pier at Purtis Creek State Park in East Texas.

Long shot of fishing pier at Purtis Creek State Park in East Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

Popular among residents of Dallas, Tyler and Houston, Purtis Creek State Park, 15-hundred acres of east Texas splendor, offers visitors a scenic and peaceful getaway.

When they first roll up, they’re going to see a beautiful hardwood forest that’s interspersed with some little savannah grassland.

Now that’s how to set a relaxing mood. Mendy Davis is park superintendent. She says the park offers camping—primitive or with amenities—a children’s play area, a swimming beach, miles of hiking trails, and plenty of catfish, crappie and bass in their 35 acre lake.

The lake was actually built as an experimental bass fishing lake. Our black bass are catch and release only because we’re trying to grow the larger size fish. So, if they have to throw back the black bass, are there fish there that they can take and maybe cook at the campsite? The crappie, as long as they are ten inches. You can only take five catfish a day, but they can be any size. That was created so that any child that catches their first catfish can take it home if they want to.

We talk more about this gem of an East Texas state park tomorrow, including volunteer opportunities.

We’re kind of looking for that birding person who wants to come out and lead a birdwatching hike for us.

That and other opportunities at Purtis Creek State Park tomorrow.

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

Birding from Fifty Yards Away

Monday, May 23rd, 2016
Roseate Spoonbill nestlings and parent.

Roseate Spoonbill nestlings and parent.

This is Passport to Texas

The Texas Gulf Coast buzzes with bird life year-round. And while it’s tempting to get close to them when visiting the beach…

Fish, swim and play from fifty yards away. It’s an idea that we want to relay to folks.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford says this slogan is a catchy reminder to keep your distance from our feathered friends.

Especially in the nesting season. You want to keep your distance when you’re fishing, birdwatching, boating—keep fifty yards between you and the birds.

Fifty yards is considered a safe distance so that you don’t spook birds from their nests.

When people get too close they notice—oh, all the adults are flying off the nests. And the hot sun cooks the little nestlings. Well, that is bad stuff.

Cliff adds that while it may be fun to bring your dog to the beach, keep it fifty yards away and on its leash.

That dog might love running after those flocks of birds, but in migration, some of those birds like red knots, could have flown hundreds and hundreds of miles and that’s their resting spot. That’s their refueling spot. And that’s disruptive on a bird during its long journey. So, keep the dog leashed, and remember to fish, swim and play at fifty yards away.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Managing Giant Reed in the Texas Hill Country

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Arundo, photo courtesy, kathelma

Arundo, photo courtesy, kathelma

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo Donax—or giant reed—may not be public enemy number one, but this non-native grass, which covers an estimated half million acres in Texas, shows up on Parks and Wildlife’s most (un)wanted list.

This is an invasive plant—especially when it gets into areas along rivers and creeks.

Monica McGarrity studies aquatic invasives for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and says thanks to recent increased legislative funding, the agency can expand management efforts of arundo to the Hill Country.

One of the reasons why we’re focusing on the hill country is because these are some of the headwaters areas, they’re really important, for some of our native fishes that are imperiled; including our state fish—the Guadalupe bass. And when it gets into these narrow streams and creeks and headwaters, it can just have some devastating impacts.

Such as bank failure, decreased water quality, and habitat disruption. McGarrity says the plan includes using EPA approved herbicides and revegetating banks with native species.

This project seeks to manage the arundo to minimize impacts on these imperiled fishes, and improve habitat quality and diversity and support these conservation initiatives.

Learn more about Arundo donax at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Landowners Key to Controlling Giant Reed

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
arundo donax

Arundo donax, Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA website

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo donax, or giant reed, isn’t all bad. In some parts of the world it’s used as a biofuel, and even to make reeds for woodwinds. In Texas, where it covers a half million acres of land, it’s a pest. This non-native cane doesn’t provide food or nesting habitats for wildlife – but outcompetes native plants that do. Plus it disturbs aquatic ecosystems along riparian areas where it grows. TPW works with landowners in affected areas to manage the species.

These are private waters and landowners are able to come in and tell us what problems they’re seeing with the arundo, how it’s affecting them. They’re out there to monitor over time—let us know when they see native plants coming back, or if they see any re-sprouting popping up.

Monica McGarrity, with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says strategies used to manage the pest include: Pull. Kill. Plant. Pull up young plants, use EPA approved herbicides to kill mature plants, and repopulate with native vegetation. It’s worked in the Nueces River Basin.

So we’ve been working in the Nueces River Basin with the NRA for a number of years to manage arundo. And it’s been rather effective. There’s a huge partnership that includes landowners and a variety of techniques to manage the arundo and to replant some native plants. And now we’re able to expand this into the Pedernales Basin and into the Blanco River as well.

Monica McGarrity returns to talk about that tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Best Management of Giant Reed

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
arundo donax

Spraying EPA approved herbicide on Arundo donax. Image courtesy of

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo Donax, or giant reed, is an invasive plant found along rivers and creeks. While it spreads through underground rhizomes, it can also multiply when cane fragments travel downstream.

You cut it, you mow it, you get fragments into the creek—each fragment can create a new plant.

This is why mowing or otherwise breaking up the cane is ill-advised. Monica McGarrity who studies aquatic invasive for TPW, says of the methods used to manage giant reed, herbicides are most effective.

We do use herbicides that are labeled for aquatic use. We take extreme care to minimize overspray, and any damage to non-target plant; we just be really selective when we hit the Arundo. And then, that allows the canes to die and remain in place. So, we’re not destabilizing the entire riparian area.

When the canes die, they provide protection for emerging native plants.

So, when you have young, native plants that start to come up, then deer and things are going to come out and munch on them. So these canes kind of create a nursery area to allow them to come back. And so that’s really important. Planting the natives alone [without first using herbicides], they haven’t evolved to compete with this huge, vigorous invader.

Landowners are vital to managing this invasive plant. Find out why on tomorrow’s show.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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