Archive for September, 2017

Understanding the Roll of an Urban Biologist

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Commonly found urban wildlife.

This is Passport

You may not think there’s a much need for urban wildlife biologists in cities…

People hear “urban wildlife biologist” and they assume grackles and squirrels.

But Richard Heilbrun says they are much more than nuisance wildlife experts.

Urban wildlife biologists work in all of our major metropolitan areas throughout the state, and they work with municipal decision-makers on land management.

Heilbrun is team lead for the urban wildlife technical guidance program.

One day we might work with a parks department on which new property to acquire that’s best for wildlife diversity. The next day, we might work with the City Council in alleviating some conflict between people and wildlife. And the third, day we might work with a home owners association to manage their greenbelt for maximum wildlife diversity.

The urban landscape is more diverse than you know.

So, in a city you might have golf courses, cemeteries, creeks, greenbelts, rivers, city parks, state parks, vacant lots. And then all those corridors that connect those neighborhoods together are usually really great wildlife habitat.

Find an urban biologist in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and helps fund Wildlife technical guidance and assistance to urbanites of Texas.

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

Trash to Treasure

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
It's Your World -- let's make it beautiful.

It’s Your World — let’s make it beautiful.

This is Passport to Texas

A project in El Paso, has HS students and the local art community turning roadside trash to treasure.

It’s called It’s Your World, and it’s a really, really cool project.

Nicole Roque, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife, based in El Paso, heard about El Dorado HS art teacher, Candace Printz who, with her students, created the project to improve their community.

She started It’s Your World, and what they do is they go into the community and they do cleanups. They adopted a portion of highway and they went out a few months and cleaned it completely. And they kept statistic on what they found, and then they took all this trash back to their school, they cleaned it up, they separated it, and then used it as art supplies.

It’s Your World compliments AmeriCorps’ mission of improving the human condition. Nicole partnered with the project to develop art workshops.

And they’ve created some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. They recently had an art exhibition; I went to go see it, and it floors you to look at some of these really amazing things [made from trash]. And one of my favorite things that Candace told me is they opened their portable where they had all the supplies, and local artists were coming in to collect supplies for their art, and people were fighting over the trash.

One man’s trash…. Learn more about It’s Your World…we have a link to their website at passporttotexas.org.

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

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Some of the students working on art projects made from trash collected along a two-mile stretch of road in El Paso.

It's Your World workshop.

It’s Your World workshop.

 

A Brighter Future Starts Outdoors

Monday, September 18th, 2017
Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

This is Passport to Texas

They say you can never go home again. Just don’t tell that to Nicole Roque. After graduating college, she moved back to El Paso; in March, she took a job as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

AmeriCorps is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty.

Headquartered at Franklin Mountains State Park, Nicole says a question she usually gets is:

How are you alleviating poverty [via] parks?

Research supports the theory that people who engage the outdoors 30 minutes to one hour a day are happier, healthier and smarter.

Kids do better in school, they have higher self-esteem. They’re just more confident in general. It’s more than just going out and hiking.

A solid education, a high level of confidence and good self-esteem are all tools that help people to move beyond barriers and to lean into success.

We’re definitely looking to help kids feel more welcome by environmental science careers and STEM careers in general – and strengthen them in that way.

Tomorrow Nicole tells us about a program where El Pasoans turn trash into art while learning about environmental stewardship.

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

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

TPW TV — Parks Ranch, a Lone Star Land Steward

Friday, September 15th, 2017
Parks Ranch -- Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

Parks Ranch — Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

This is Passport to Texas

Before we domesticated livestock, the land and water belonged to wildlife. Cattle took a toll on this habitat; but thanks to the efforts of landowners like David Crow, cattle and conservation coexist.

The ranch is our factory. The cattle are a part of the factory. The wildlife’s part of the factory. And everything has to click together.

Crow operates the 5,600-acre Parks Ranch in Goliad County, and keeps the needs of wildlife top of mind.

I think one of the biggest detractors to wildlife is fragmentation of habitat. To be able to hold this ranch together is extremely important.

A 2016 Lone Star land Steward award-winner in the Gulf Prairies & Marshes region, Crow uses a variety of techniques to create greater density of native grasslands, which supports better diversity of native wildlife.

I’m pleased that my son has chosen his career in this business as well, because that means at least we’re good for another generation.

Witness the success of Parks Ranch on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Landscaping for the Birds

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard—or balcony.

You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Find a list of native species that do well in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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