Archive for January, 2019

Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

One of the many natural features at Gus Engeling WMA

This is Passport to Texas

The countryside that greeted east Texas settlers in the 1800s looked different than it does today. Known as the Post Oak Savannah, this region once covered 8 million acres between the Pineywoods to the east and the Blackland prairies to the west. Yet two centuries of farming, grazing and timbering took their toll.

A small patch of land exists today that offers us a glimpse of this vanished habitat. It’s the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management area, located in Anderson County, 21 miles northwest of Palestine. This nearly 11-thousand acre site was purchased from 1950 to 1960, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program funds.

The WMAs primary purpose is to function as a wildlife research and demonstration area for the Post Oak Savannah Ecoregion. The area is comprised of 2,000 acres of hardwood bottomland floodplain and almost 500 acres of natural watercourses, 350 acres of wetlands, marshes and swamps and nearly 300 acres of sphagnum moss bogs.
Anglers and hunters need only possess an Annual Public Hunting Permit and valid hunting license to gain access on designated days during the appropriate season.

Visitors may enjoy nature viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking, camping and the general beauty of nature. Learn more about the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management on the TPW website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

The Right Shoe for Outdoor Adventures

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
A family hike at Garner State Park.

A family hike at Garner State Park is more fun when your feet don’t hurt from ill-fitting shoes.

This is Passport to Texas

Your feet take you on outdoor adventures. And the greatest kindness you can show them is to wear shoes that fit properly.

Sean Bibby is the community outreach coordinator for Whole Earth Provision Company in Austin. Before that he was one of their shoe guys. He shares tips on getting the right fit for your adventurous feet.

[Sean] All size tens are going to fit differently from brand to brand, for example. You can feel the difference when you’re walking five miles in them. And that is a big deal. So, you want to pick something that fits right at first and that consistently supports your foot in the arch, the heel the width of the toe box, the height of the toe box…the ankle support.
[Cecilia] And so how should a well-fitted shoe feel on one’s foot?
[Sean] Combined with the right socks—that’s a huge part of this—you don’t want to have any slipping around. You don’t want you heels sliding up and down too much. You don’t want your toes moving forward when you’re going downhill. Hiking downhill is often what gets people in trouble in a new pair of shoes. And so you want your foot to be generally locked in with not too much movement. You want to make sure you find a brand that works with the volume of your foot. Um, you want to be able to take your shoes off after four hours of wearing them the first day and not have any big hot spots.

Time spent outdoors is more fun when your feet don’t hurt.

That’s our show. We receive support in part from RAM Trucks…built to serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPWD Kills and Spills Team

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Spill on Sabine River with containment booms

This is Passport to Texas

If thousands of fish were to wash up dead on the Texas coast, biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Kills and Spills Team would be dispatched to the scene.

The Kills and Spills Team is a program in the Resource Protection division of the department, and is responsible for responding to fish kills, wildlife kills, oil spills and hazardous chemical spills. The goal is to protect fish and wildlife from impacts caused by man-made pollution

While large fish kills attract the most attention, uncovering sources of ongoing low-level pollution is just as important.

Some of the most common fish kills that occur near communities are often small—sometimes associated with leaking sewer lines or overflowing manholes. These are segments of the waste-water collection and transport system that can fail. But not all fish kills are caused by pollution. It’s not uncommon to see dead fish when temperatures suddenly drop. Although the majority of fish kills we see are due to natural causes, pollution may be a factor.

TPWD encourages the public to call anytime it sees dead fish in the water and along shorelines. Doing so allows the agency to send out biologists to assess the situation.

The Sportfish Restoration supports our series

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

Clean Climbing

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Rock Climbing at Lake Mineral Wells State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Some of Texas’ best rock climbing spots are in our state parks, including Hueco Tanks, Lake Mineral Wells and Enchanted Rock.

As the sport’s popularity has increased, so, too, has the potential for overuse and abuse of these natural resources. Over time, the practice of “clean climbing” has gained traction among devotees of the sport, who are committed to preserving the integrity of the rocks they scale.
Clean climbing is climbing without items—such as bolts—that get left behind. It takes more effort and thought, but those who engage this practice find it fulfilling.

When you do a clean climb, you ensure that those who come after you do not see signs of a previous climb. It’s similar to Leave No Trace.

This method of climbing involves more of a commitment, and works best with multiple climbers. When employing this style, the first climber is responsible for placement of protection gear like camming devices and slings. The climber who follows then removes those items on their way up.

Clean climbing is another way to enjoy unspoiled nature and not spoiling it for those who come after you, either.

That’s our show…we receive support in part from RAM Trucks…build to serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Overcoming Outdoor Anxieties

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Eco-therapist, Amy Sugeno. Image from her Facebook page.

This is Passport to Texas

Did you know that spending time outdoors may be the cure for people who are anxious about spending time outdoors?

There are ions that come up out of the soil and tend to have these effects—like calming the nervous system.

Former TPWD biologist, Amy Sugeno is a licensed clinical social worker and eco-therapist. She says medical researchers studied earthing, which involves direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth. Among its benefits, researchers found it produced feelings of well-being.

Something as simple as gardening without gloves. Barefoot walking is kind of becoming more popular. You can just sit in your backyard, take your shoes and socks off, and just put your feet onto the grass, or onto the ground.

Anxiety about spending time outdoors is common.

Back when I was working for Parks and Wildlife and would take groups of children out, it would not be uncommon for a child to say, well wait a minute, are there skunks out here? Are there snakes out here? And I would be surprised because I’m so used to being out in the field. But it would remind me that there are anxieties for people.

Other anxieties develop around whether one has the necessary skills to stay safe outdoors. Eco-therapist Amy Sugeno addresses the topic of outdoor anxiety and how to manage it during a segment in our new long-format podcast called Under the Texas Sky.

Find it at or wherever you get your podcasts.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti