Archive for the 'Nature Tourism' Category

Wet and Wonderful Paddling Trails

Thursday, November 7th, 2019
Paddling Lady Bird Lake in Austin

The Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail is approximately 11 miles long and features multiple public access sites and recreational opportunities. The Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail provides an excellent venue for the novice and experienced paddler alike.

This is Passport to Texas

Nature tourism fostered the development of many trails statewide. On land and water.

Parks and Wildlife has the Texas paddling trails program we kicked off in 2006 with our first inland trail.

Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife

Here we are now in 2019 and we have 76 trails throughout the state of Texas. We have coastal trails, inland trails. Some are on rivers. Some are on ponds or bijous. Some are on bays. We give information about the local canoe and kayak rentals or who provide a shuttle if you have your own. So, we try to make it as easy as possible to get out on the water and enjoy nature from a different perspective.

Canoeing and kayaking offer distinct benefits over traditional hike or bike trails.

Paddling on a trail just gives you a different view of nature. You’re quieter, you’re able to sneak up on the animals a little bit so they don’t fly off as much or run away and you can see things in their natural habitat.

The nature tourism movement has made a positive impact on both rural and urban communities throughout the state

Paddling trails aren’t just at state parks. We have them all over. They require community partners so, they’re in stretches of river outside small towns like Seguin or lulling. Austin has one. San Antonio has one called the Mission Reach and it goes right through the cultural district around the missions.

Find Texas paddling trails on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Variety Defines Nature Tourism

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019
Preparing for a star party, image Chris Oswalt, TPWD

Preparing for a star party, image Chris Oswalt, TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

The term “nature tourism” has evolved to include a diverse range of outdoor activities. Advancements in new tools and technologies enhance the outdoor experience.

Nature tourism is any kind of tourism that allows people to connect with nature and provide economic impact to the local economies of rural communities especially but it can be big cities as well and this would include things as varied as camping, wildlife photography, wildlife viewing and birding, stargazing, any number of things that are a way to connect to nature.

Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife

The things I think are possibly new to nature tourism beyond birding which everyone is fairly familiar with would include wildlife photography and butterflying. I think both of those have become really big. One thing with butterflying is, butterflies stay still, unlike birds. They do flit around but they stay in one area. You can have your field guide right in front of you.

In addition, access to smart phones and apps like iNaturalist allow explorers to snap photos and get immediate help identifying their observations.

Butterflying is easier than birding in many ways and it’s a great introduction to noticing the outside world.

Start planning your next outdoor adventure with the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Texas: Blazing Trails in Nature Tourism

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
Hawk Tower Bird Watching.

Hawk Tower Bird Watching.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife brought the nature tourism movement to Texas in the 1990’s.

Madge Lindsay worked with a couple of other people and developed this idea of a birding trail.

Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager.

No one had ever linked together sites that were drivable distances from one another to say, here’s a marketing platform of ways that people can come to your area and enjoy nature. Wouldn’t it be great if we worked with local communities on this concept of nature tourism and developing the sites they already have and telling people about these wonderful birding sites because right now bird watchers know that they exist but people that just like nature may not realize it.

Local knowledge wasn’t always reliably shared.

So, let’s put them together in one big map and they can go from site to site to site and see a variety of habitat a variety of birds and have enhancements there that make it easy for them like boardwalks to viewing blinds, that sort of thing. So, there was a grant and they got it and the great Texas coastal birding trail was born out of that. We were the first state to do a birding trail.

More than 40 states now have birding trails.

It was really great timing and really great people at the right place at the right time made this amazing thing that’s been a boon for rural communities all over Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti…reminding you that life’s better outside.

Dark Skies Over the Devil’s River

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Devils River State Natural Area – Del Norte Unit. Photo: Jerod Roberts

This is Passport to Texas

If you haven’t already heard, let me tell you: Devils River State Natural Area was designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association.

It is the only Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas, and only the sixth International Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world! Let that sink in a moment. Devils River SNA is one of the darkest and most ecologically fragile sites on the planet.

The designation brings further awareness to the Devils River and its surrounding landscapes as irreplaceable resources that should be preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Located in southwest Texas, Devils River SNA is far from cities and is home to one of the most pristine rivers in the state. It lies in the cross section of three ecological regions making the site a biologically diverse habitat for plants, fish and native wildlife—including a rare salamander and several protected fish species.

It joins Big Bend Ranch State Park, Copper Breaks State Park, South Llano River State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, as the fifth park to hold a prestigious IDA Dark Sky designation in the Texas State Park system.

Learn more about the dark skies of Texas on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Where to see Bald Eagles

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Bald Eagle at Lake Texoma. Image by: Hilary Roberts

This is Passport to Texas

After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing. It was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007.

The symbol of our nation got its name from an old English word “piebald”—which means white faced.

You’ll find bald eagles in every state but Hawaii; the largest US concentration thrives in Alaska.

These impressive birds also spend time in the Central and East Texas. Want to see one?

You’ll have the best luck finding eagles on lakes and rivers during peak season, which is October through March. Start your search at a Texas State Park.

Visitors to Fairfield Lake State Park, southeast of Dallas consistently spot bald eagles. They’ve also been seen at Martin Creek Lake State Park, near Longview.

There’s a bald eagle nesting site at Lake Texana, 35 mi. northeast of Victoria. Visitors can see them from the viewing stand on the east side of the parking lot.

In Central Texas, folks often spot the birds around Lake Buchanan, which is 70 miles northwest of Austin.

If you see bald eagles this fall or winter, document your observation at the Texas Eagle Nest project on

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