Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Gifts for the Conservation Minded

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Give a gift of the outdoors. [Big Bend Ranch State Park]

This is Passport to Texas

Holiday gift giving season is upon us, and if you have nature lovers on your list—the giving is easy—and twice as nice.

A seventy-dollar Texas State Parks Pass is a thoughtful gift for your outdoor enthusiast. Pass holders enjoy twelve months of unlimited visits to more than ninety state parks and historic sites. They also get discounts on camping and recreational equipment rentals. Money spent on the pass supports your Texas state parks.

For thirty dollars each, you can give the drivers on your list a conservation license plate. Twenty-two dollars from every sale goes directly to help fund conservation efforts in Texas.

Give every outdoor lover on your list access to more than a million acres of public land—with the Limited Use Permit—for the ridiculously reasonable price of twelve dollars.

Permit holders receive twelve months of access to Texas’ wildlife management areas, where they can fish, hike, bird watch, cycle, and camp.

When you give one of these gifts, you delight the receiver, and help support state parks and conservation in Texas.

Of course, you can always give the gift of yourself to those you love by spending time with them outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of modern living—if only for a few hours.

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

The Secret Lives of Marsh Birds

Thursday, November 21st, 2019
Least Bittern

Least Bittern

This is Passport to Texas

Did you know there’s a secret gang of aviators hiding out on the Texas Coast?

They’re not often seen. They’re more often heard.

Trey Barron is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He’s talking about the secret life of Marsh Birds.

Marsh birds are typically thought of as species like Rails. A lot of other species that inhabit the marsh that are secretive as well, like some of the Bitterns, and they’re one that are very hard to monitor for because they spend time in habitats that you just can’t walk to or drive to. You have to be in a boat or trompin’ through the marsh.

The Marsh Bird population has steadily declined over the years primarily due to habitat loss. And while some species are doing good in Texas, their decreased population along other coastal regions may cause them to be federally protected.

There’s some species that have been proposed at the federal level, the Black Rail, as threatened. It seems to be doing quite well in Texas, but the population has declined significantly on the Eastern coast and so the more we can find out about that species the better we can provide better habitat for the rail.

Continuing to protect marsh habitats will be key to sustaining Marsh Bird populations in Texas.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Marsh Bird research in Texas.

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

Fun with Fishes at Sea Center Texas

Thursday, November 14th, 2019
Sea Center Texas

Sea Center Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Located in Lake Jackson, Sea Center Texas is a marine aquarium, fish hatchery and education center providing creative learning opportunities throughout the year.

Right now, the main educational opportunity that we have are Summer Camps. This year were doing “Wonderful Wetlands,” where they’ll go to dip-net and learn all about the species that live out there. And then, we have “Aquaria-mania, where they will learn what it’s like to work at an aquarium and, they will get to take a behind-the-scenes tour.

We spoke with Juliana Moore this past summer, before the camp started. She is an information specialist at the center.

We have three public fishing events during the year. There’s one in June one in September and the other one is in February. And, those are youth fishing days so, anyone 17 and younger, accompanied by a parent can come out and fish.

And you can have fun with the fishes this holiday season.

We have a big Santa Clause show and Santa Claus actually scuba dives in the tank. So, one of our volunteers will dress up as Santa and gets in there with his elves and they put on a little Christmas show.

Now that’s something you’ve got to see. you can find more Sea Center events on our website; just click on the Parks tab and select Sea Center.

We record our series at The Block House in Austin, and Joel Block engineers our program.

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

Passion for Water and Woodworking = New Career

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
Surfing at South Padre

Surfing at South Padre

This is Passport to Texas

As a kid, Tony Smith loved knowing how things worked and creating with his hands; he also had a passion for water.

We grew up in Houston and so we would go down and go fishing—my brothers, my parents. All the time. We just loved being around the water. Later in life, in college, I started surfing and really fell in love with that. Hence, wanting to build paddleboards and surfboards in the first place.

Today Tony handcrafts paddleboards and surfboards in a warehouse using sustainably harvested wood, reclaimed lumber and recycled foam. He built boards for personal use in his free time while working a finance job he loved. His hobby became a business; he had a foot in each world

I came here on my lunchbreak one day. Did a little bit of work, zipped back to the office, and my Admin said, ‘Dude—you have sawdust all over the back of your suit.’ And I knew then, it’s time to make that decision to go for it and haven’t looked back since.

Now he spends his days handcrafting unique paddle and surf boards, under the name Jarvis Boards. Boards that, help people enjoy their time outdoors.

It’s really taken me aback how much I’ve enjoyed connecting with the individuals that have purchased our boards. And literally seeing on Instagram somebody in California, or Michigan or Switzerland out paddling with their family and making those family memories. It’s really cool for me personally because I feel like I’m a small part of that.

Learn Tony Smith’s story at jarvisboards.com

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

The Lesser Prairie Chicken

Thursday, October 24th, 2019
Lesser prairie-chicken

Lesser prairie-chicken. Image courtesy USFWS

This is Passport to Texas

The Lesser Prairie Chicken used to roam many parts of Texas. But over the years, the wide-open grassland prairies they depend on have been greatly reduced by development and land fragmentation.

Lesser Prairie Chickens are important because they are an indicator species on the health of the grasslands.

Brad Simpson is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

When we look at Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers we look at two things. We look at numbers range-wide, because they occur in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Probably range-wide they are increasing. But when we look at Texas they are probably more stable in the last five years than they ever have been.

There are only two populations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken in Texas, but that’s not the only reason they’re hard to find.

Most people probably have never seen a Lesser Prairie Chicken because they occur on private lands. They are a delicate species that requires a specific habitat, large expanse of grasslands, so maintaining those large tracks of grasslands is critical for their survival.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently performing a species review of the grouse. A status determination is expected in 2021. Until then, management of the Lesser Prairie Chicken will be up to landowner stewardship.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Lesser Prairie Chicken research in Texas.

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