Archive for March, 2019

Renew or Buy State Parks Pass Online

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Buy or renew your Texas State Parks Pass online.

This is Passport to Texas

Parkgoers can renew or purchase a Texas State Parks Pass online thanks to improvements in the online reservation system. Thomas Wilhelm is the marketing and branding manager for Texas State parks.

People have made it clear that they want the ability to either purchase their park pass online or renew their park pass on line for a long time. The advantage to purchasing in advance now, with the new reservation system, is your park pass discounts get applied when you make your reservation. So, you’re getting those benefits immediately. When you’re paying in advance for your campsite or your entrance fees, you’re getting those parks pass benefits upfront. You have the ability now to renew your park pass as well, which you can do, I think it’s up to five months in advance of your park pass expiring. One of the big advantages we’ll see with the new park pass system, and the new system with it…is that currently with the park pass you get four camping discounts for half off your second night. With the new reservation system, we’re eliminating that restriction on the number of discounts you get. So, with your park pass it’s unlimited half off your second night of camping when you stay two or more nights.

Purchase or renew your Texas State Parks Pass on the Texas parks and Wildlife Website.

We receive support for our show in part from Ram Trucks. Built to Serve.

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

New Park Reservation System: Save the Day

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Visitors to Enchanted Rock SP, relaxing because they “saved the Day”.

This is Passport to Texas

Ditch the “will I or won’t I get in” guessing game that often comes with visiting Texas’ most popular state parks. Now parkgoers can “Save the Day”. Thomas Wilhelm is the marketing and branding manager for Texas State parks.

[Thomas] So, what we’re calling “save the day” is essentially paying your entrance fees in advance. And by doing so, you’re guaranteeing access to a park. We have some parks that are super popular in that they fill up and we have to turn people away because of the limitation of the number of people allowed in a park. So with the Save the Day pass, you essentially pick a time slot that you are going to arrive at the park, pre-pay your entrance, and you’re guaranteed access to the park. So, you don’t have to worry about showing up and being turned away because the park is full.

[Cecilia] Well, you know, you might get there, but you might be behind a line of cars. Will there be another entrance for these people who have their pass?

[Thomas] We’ll have to work through those. Depending on the site, we may be able to create dual entrance lines. There will be a learning curve for both our employees and our customers. But, I think, in the long term, it will really speed up the process. Not just for guaranteed access, but also for getting you into the park faster and onto the fun.

Make your reservations on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. Tomorrow: Buying and managing your Texas State Park Pass online.

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

New Park Reservation System: Pick Your Site

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
State Park Campsite

State Park Campsite

This is Passport to Texas

Overnight visits to Texas State parks are easier than ever to plan, thanks to improvements in the online reservation system, including picking your own site.

We’ve been listening to our customers for a long time. And some of the things that we’ve heard that are most wanted by our customers is site specific reservations.

Thomas Wilhelm is the marketing and branding manager for Texas State Parks. Before this new online reservation system, overnight campers could reserve a type of site, but not a specific site.

Pick your site is a huge boon for the system. When people show up at a park, they want to know that they’re getting into a campsite that will work for them. So, whether its because they have a larger RV, or they want to guarantee that they’re near their friends and family, they want to know which site they’re going to be in before they get there. There’s nothing worse than showing up at a park, having your reservation, and realizing the only sites left available to you are ones that don’t really work for your equipment. With the new system, they’ll have the ability to go online, look at pictures and descriptions of every single campsite in the system, and then pick the campsite that works for them. And then they know exactly where they’re going when they get to the park.

Make your reservations online on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. Tomorrow: The Save the Day Pass.

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

Identifying Good Horned Lizard Habitat

Thursday, March 21st, 2019
Horned lizard

Horned lizard

This is Passport to Texas

Urbanization and invasive species are two impacts that’ve led to the decline of the iconic Texas horned lizard. The San Antonio Zoo plans to eventually release lizards from its captive breeding program into the wild.

Management is the first step in this process.

Andy Gluesenkamp is Director of Conservation at the zoo. He says he and his staff will consider environmental factors before releasing lizards onto a property.

One is: are they within the historic range of the species. Two is: are there horned lizards there now? This is a really important question. Because if there are horned lizards on that property, then that’s really a matter of managing existing populations. And I tell landowners that they are much better off than having to try and start anew and establish a population where one doesn’t exist. Other criteria are the size of the parcel; is there enough habitat for the lizards that—if we get a population established—that it will not just persist. The idea for them is to metastasize out into other habitat. And so, we’re putting lizards back onto the landscape, and not just on parcels of the landscape.

Andy Gluesenkamp says he uses high-resolution satellite-based maps from the Texas Parks and Wildlife GIS department to help assess whether areas have quality habitat for newly minted lizards.

We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve

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

Horned Lizard Decline

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
Horned Lizard

A very handsome Texas Horned Lizard.

This is Passport to Texas

Once a common sight in Texas, horned lizards are in decline. The past three decades of urban development coincide with their disappearance.

Not a coincidence at all. And although there’s no single smoking gun in the decline of horned lizards, generally urbanization is a common factor.

Andy Gluesenkamp is Director of Conservation at San Antonio Zoo, where he developed and oversees a horned lizard breeding program. Urbanization is just one impact.

There have been other, less obvious impacts. Like the introduction of non-native invasive grasses. [It] fundamentally changes the landscape from a lizard’s perspective. A lot of the grasses that we would look at and think that’s perfectly normal Texas grassland habitat, is kind of like an impenetrable bamboo thicket for these guys.

Such habitat changes mean lower diversity and density of arthropods, the lizard’s prey base. And then, there’s the red imported fire ant.

Although they’re not a deal-breaker for horned lizards, they’re not good for horned lizards. And a lot of places where horned lizards used to occur, there are now too many red imported fire ants for them even to get stablished in those places anymore. The red imported fire ants tend to eat the young as soon as they hatch out of the eggs.

Horned lizards from the San Antonio Zoo breeding program will be released back into the wild. But that takes planning. Details next time.

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