Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

The Ecosystem Functions of Wildlife

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

This is Passport to Texas

Golf courses, cemeteries, creeks, parks and greenbelts, all common in urban areas, provide habitat for wildlife.

In a typical greenbelt [for example], you’ll find owls and hawks and songbirds and lizards and snakes and coyotes and bobcats. And all of those put together form a functional ecosystem that only exists in those urban areas.

Richard Heilbrun is team lead for the urban wildlife technical guidance program. These biologists work with communities to ensure humans and wildlife coexist comfortably.

Most people recognize that seeing wildlife is a great thing, and they feel fortunate to see that wildlife. Every once in a while we get folks who are nervous, but once they talk to our urban wildlife biologists, and are told this is a good thing, they change their perception fairly quickly. So, someone that might be nervous about seeing a coyote, when they call an urban wildlife biologist and are told that coyote populations perform an ecosystem function – they keep those rats at bay, or they make sure that the skunk populations don’t go haywire. So, when they realize there’s a benefit, their perception changes fairly quickly.

Find your urban biologist when you log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and helps fund Wildlife technical guidance and assistance to urbanites of Texas.

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

Trash to Treasure

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
It's Your World -- let's make it beautiful.

It’s Your World — let’s make it beautiful.

This is Passport to Texas

A project in El Paso, has HS students and the local art community turning roadside trash to treasure.

It’s called It’s Your World, and it’s a really, really cool project.

Nicole Roque, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife, based in El Paso, heard about El Dorado HS art teacher, Candace Printz who, with her students, created the project to improve their community.

She started It’s Your World, and what they do is they go into the community and they do cleanups. They adopted a portion of highway and they went out a few months and cleaned it completely. And they kept statistic on what they found, and then they took all this trash back to their school, they cleaned it up, they separated it, and then used it as art supplies.

It’s Your World compliments AmeriCorps’ mission of improving the human condition. Nicole partnered with the project to develop art workshops.

And they’ve created some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. They recently had an art exhibition; I went to go see it, and it floors you to look at some of these really amazing things [made from trash]. And one of my favorite things that Candace told me is they opened their portable where they had all the supplies, and local artists were coming in to collect supplies for their art, and people were fighting over the trash.

One man’s trash…. Learn more about It’s Your World…we have a link to their website at

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


Some of the students working on art projects made from trash collected along a two-mile stretch of road in El Paso.

It's Your World workshop.

It’s Your World workshop.


TPW TV — Parks Ranch, a Lone Star Land Steward

Friday, September 15th, 2017
Parks Ranch -- Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

Parks Ranch — Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

This is Passport to Texas

Before we domesticated livestock, the land and water belonged to wildlife. Cattle took a toll on this habitat; but thanks to the efforts of landowners like David Crow, cattle and conservation coexist.

The ranch is our factory. The cattle are a part of the factory. The wildlife’s part of the factory. And everything has to click together.

Crow operates the 5,600-acre Parks Ranch in Goliad County, and keeps the needs of wildlife top of mind.

I think one of the biggest detractors to wildlife is fragmentation of habitat. To be able to hold this ranch together is extremely important.

A 2016 Lone Star land Steward award-winner in the Gulf Prairies & Marshes region, Crow uses a variety of techniques to create greater density of native grasslands, which supports better diversity of native wildlife.

I’m pleased that my son has chosen his career in this business as well, because that means at least we’re good for another generation.

Witness the success of Parks Ranch on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Texas Brigades Inspire Careers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image:

Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image:

This is Passport to Texas

To categorize the Texas Brigades as “summer camp” is like calling a mountain lion “a kitty cat”.

This is not a normal summer camp. This is meant to be a lot more than that.

Writer, Aubry Buzek wrote a story about the Brigades for the October  issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The editor of the magazine said, I want you to go to this summer camp and write about it. And I was thinking: Okay. There’s going to be fun stuff happening; I get there and it’s in the middle of a session on how conservation groups work in Texas….and conservation and hunters ethics. And I was like, Whoa!

The 5-day, cell-phone free, camps for youth build confidence and camaraderie with projects, public speaking and debates on conservation issues.

There are some really amazing instructors who come to this camp. There are instructors there who are wildlife biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife, other private hunting ranches, water control authorities…just the gambit of [conservation] organizations in Texas. The kids get to meet people not easily accessible. Every instructor that I talked to said that they want these kids to pick up the phone and keep in touch with them. They want to help them grow now and into the future.

Aubry Buzek’s story on the Texas Brigades appears in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW Magazine — Texas Brigades

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Brigades is a wildlife and natural resource focused leadership development program for youth, 13 to 17.

Texas Brigades has been around for 25 years. It started out as Bobwhite Brigade back in 1993, and then it just kind of morphed.

It’s morphed into is eight summer camps, each with a different conservation focus. Aubry Buzek [Byu-zik] wrote about the Brigades for the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

What was really interesting is that these camps are not necessarily about learning about one particular species. At Bobwhite Brigade, they were learning a lot about quail—and they had biologists there teaching them about quail. But that wasn’t the overall goal of the program. It was about being comfortable with public speaking, comfortable talking with their peers. Debating.

These five-day intensive camps incorporate military marching and cadence, and introduce students to experts and activities that challenge and

I talked to a lot of parents after graduation and they were like, ‘Who is this kid?’ I saw it too. That confidence. A lot of parents said they didn’t expect their kid to know just so much. But, in addition to that knowledge, these kids are loud, and they’re marching, and they make a lot of friends. It really is a transformative camp.

Read Aubry Buzek’s story about the Texas Brigades in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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