Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Becoming a Texas Master Naturalist

Thursday, January 17th, 2019
Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a training program for people with a passion for nature. It’s called the Texas Master Naturalist Program.

The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer based training program; we develop a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach and service around the state in the beneficial management of natural resources and the natural areas within Texas.

Mary Pearl Meuth (MOYT) is the program’s coordinator. They train roughly 700 volunteers annually, and have training sessions annually.

Our curriculum that is used for the training, has 26 chapters in it. So, they march through those 26 chapters all with a large context of the state of Texas, but then developed even more within their local ecosystem.

Once trained, volunteers provide 40 hours of community outreach, and take 8 hours of advanced training annually. The program’s not just about taking or facilitating classes. It’s also about discovery.

Quite a few of our Master Naturalists have identified new species of plants or new species of animals located within the state of Texas.

Are you ready to help Mother Nature, and to make a name for yourself – or a new species? The Texas Master Naturalist program can help. Find a training session at txmn.org.

That’s our show…brought to you in part by RAM Trucks. Built to Serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW TV–Trail Ranch

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Trail Ranch

This is Passport to Texas

Justin and Tamara Trail live in Albany, which is about a 10 minute drive from their 19-hundred acre ranch in Shackelford County.

Tamara and I always dreamed of having our own place to enjoy and manage and steward and then when you layer on top of that inviting people out to enjoy that, I can’t imagine anything better.

They acquired the ranch in 2009. Since then, they’ve disked, burned and sprayed their property to fight invasive mesquite, prickly pear and winter grass.

And in response, we get all these warm season forb plants.

Cattle have a role to play, too.

Over the last three or four years, we’ve re-introduced cattle back in just to try to change the grass composition from cool season winter grasses to more of the warm season plants that we’re looking for.

As 2018 Lone Star Land Steward Award Winners for the Rolling Plains ecosystem, the Trails are innovators. TPW biologist Jesse Oetgen [O-ta-gin (long O, hard G)] cites their use of a roller chopper as proof.

In a single pass he can use the dozer blade to push brush out of the way, the roller chopper to chop that prickly pear and immediately followed with herbicide application. That roller chopper – spray combination as an implement is something that nobody else around here has done and it’s really caught on in the last couple of years.

See their story the week of January 13 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

TPW Magazine — Texas Horned Lizard

Thursday, December 6th, 2018
Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard

This is Passport to Texas

With a flat, spiky body, the Horned Lizard has captivated the generations of Texans.

Everyone you meet, if you just mention horny toad, or horned lizard, they say” “Oh, I used to see those all the time when I was a kid; I would pick them up and put them into my pocket. But now I never see them. What happened to them”?

That’s a question editor Louie Bond addresses in an article for the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. To get answers, she travelled to the San Antonio Zoo to meet with director of conservation, Andy Gluesenkamp.

And he is raising horned lizards in hope of having babies in a few months, and putting them back into their historic habitats.

Which includes arid and semiarid habitats in open areas with sparse plant cover. This habitat’s been fragmented by development. But it still exists.

We’re actually tying into a whole other program at the agency, which comes from the mapping department. And we have this incredible interactive vegetative map of the whole state, broken into pretty small parcels of land. The biologists can look at the map and judge the habitat by a variety of criteria. So, they actually can rate each piece of land and make sure that it actually does have all the things that are needed there.

The horned lizard article by Louie Bond is as fascinating as the animal itself. Read this in-depth feature in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. On newsstands now.

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

The Value of Wetlands

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Cactus and wetlands along Powderhorn Lake. Photo courtesy of the nature Conservancy, Jerod Foster

This is Passport to Texas

Wetlands are the most vibrant ecosystems in nature, and play an essential role in maintaining biodiversity and water quality.

On a per acre basis, you’ll find more wildlife and organic activity in wetlands than in any other type of habitat in Texas.

As water moves through wetlands, the vegetation and organisms filter the majority of debris and other materials, as well as collect sediment.

Water comes out of a wetland cleaner than it went in; wetlands are efficient, high quality water filters.

Wetlands also help mitigate coastal flooding by absorbing excess water and reducing storm surges from hurricanes.

They also serve as nurseries for species of sport fish that have both recreational and commercial value to Texans.

Yet, wetlands are declining. Over time, this can set up a domino effect that may see future severe flooding in vulnerable areas, a reduction in clean water, and a decrease in fish for the table.

Therefore, it is vital that we understand the value of wetlands and protect and grow them in Texas and other areas where they play a dynamic role in the health of the planet.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW TV – Up on the (Green) Roof

Friday, November 16th, 2018
Austin Central Library rooftop garden.

Austin Central Library rooftop garden.

This is Passport to Texas

The new public library in Austin is an oasis in the midst of a steel and concrete desert.

[opens w/ambience] This is the, uh, rooftop garden, which we also call the butterfly garden.

John Gillum is library facilities manager. Native plants sway in the breeze six stories above busy thoroughfares.

It is a green roof. It means a roof that’s actually landscaped. We wanted to do something to help out our little pollinators. We will do anything we can to attract them. If we can come up with different plants we think will draw more butterflies, we’ll do it.

An oasis of native plants help bees and butterflies make their way through increasingly urban landscapes. It also makes for a nice spot to sit and read.

This is really the best part of the library as far as a natural setting to sit in.

Putting a park on a building saves space and lowers energy costs when temperatures soar.

As opposed to the concrete around us, this is going to be an area that really absorbs heat rather than reflects it out, so even in the kind of summers that we get here in Austin, this is still going to be a pretty pleasant place to be.

Can’t get to the library? Then get to a television. Explore the Austin Central Library rooftop garden on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS, the week of November 25th.

In an age when news about nature is not always cheery, look for some good news on the top shelf of Austin’s new library.

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