Archive for the 'State Parks' Category

State Park Trails

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

Mountain Biking at Big Bend Ranch State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife’s recreational trails program develops new pathways in the state through a competitive grant program. Trails allow visitors to enjoy scenic vistas, pursue recreational sports, escape find solace and explore areas that might otherwise be inaccessible.

We fund everything from natural surface single-track mountain bike trails to twelve-foot-wide concrete trails that are accessible to everyone.

Erick Hetzel is the State Park Trails Coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife

That’s a really important aspect of the program. We want to serve a broad spectrum of the population of Texas.

Trails provide access to natural environments in an increasingly urban landscape.

They’re providing recreational trail experiences for people who need them. And the population of Texas needs them. We don’t have a lot of public land and we’re able to drop these little recreational trail experiences into these sometimes small communities that really need a trail around the local woods.

Trails also provide connection.

They can have experiences with nature and experiences with the outdoors right in their own community. And, that’s one of the biggest positives about our program.

There are over 1,100 miles of state park trails waiting for you to explore.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Hikes and Walks in Texas State Parks

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Takings a perky pup for a walk with the family in a state park.

This is Passport to Texas

Hiking opportunities at Texas state parks are varied. There are 1100 miles of trails and dozens of daily organized treks. Some of them have added elements to intrigue and delight.

Show up at the Davis Mountain State Park Interpretive Center on Thursday mornings and hike with a homeless dog. Help these hopeful rescues enjoy the trail as they await a forever home; you’ll get some puppy love and exercise.

Exercise caution before nibbling native plants. Although many are edible, a lot are not. Find out which native plants are nibble-worthy on ranger-led hikes, available in some of our state parks.

Does tippling interest you more than nibbling? Dinosaur Valley State Park provides the perfect place to explore how early Texans distilled, hid and sold moonshine during the Prohibition-Era.

If exploring is your thing: become a Galveston Bay explorer. Scout the salt marsh wetlands with naturalist guides and investigate the critters, fish and birds that inhabit Galveston Bay. The hike includes a hands-on-seining opportunity.

Visitors to Estero Llano Grande State Park have an opportunity to take part in their Friday butterfly and dragonfly walks. Some of these beautiful insects are found nowhere else but South Texas.

For a comprehensive list of all state park hiking opportunities go to our website, click the calendar tab and then choose Hikes and Nature Walks.

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

State of Texas Longhorn Herd

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Texas Longhorn

Texas Longhorn

This is Passport to Texas

The longhorn is a true Texas icon. This distinctive breed has played a role in Texas’ heritage.

In the early 20’s Frank Dobie and a couple of other ranchers decided that the longhorn was so important that the state needed a herd.

Jim Cisneros is park superintendent at San Angelo State Park where a portion of the herd lives.

They took about 10 or 12 years and they went around all over Texas – down into old Mexico until they put together a good enough herd of historically correct animals as they could. And they gave the herd to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

In 1969, the Texas Legislature officially recognized the State of Texas Longhorn Herd. Currently the herd numbers about 200 animals. Groups of them are located at various state parks and historic sites.

We work real hard on getting the right bulls to keep them historically correct.

Bill Guffey is the herd manager at San Angelo SP.

The state herd is managed just like anybody else would. We breed them, vaccinate them, brand them and cull them just like any other place.

Get to know the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd at San Angelo State park.

We provide a tour. We call the cattle up to the gates and we talk a little about the cattle where they come from, the history, their importance, and how they shaped Texas.

Learn more about Texas Longhorns on the TPW website. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Using Nature to Nurture Young Minds

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Learning is even more meaningful when it happens at a state park.

This is Passport to Texas

Nature and nurture join forces when home-schooled children use state parks as their classrooms.

I started doing home schooling because I like to keep my job challenging.

Amy Kocurek is an Interpretative ranger for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Children aren’t the only ones who enjoy class.

After doing the second home school class, I just started noticing how rewarding it was. I felt just so incredibly, I guess, thankful that I was doing these classes. And, I felt like I was making a really positive impact on these children. Who knows if they would have learned the importance of conservation and preservation in addition to all of these other topics that I’m teaching them.

And, it reminds me that’s the point of being an interpretative park ranger is that your making these impacts on people every time that you talk to them. You don’t always think about and sometimes you forget about it if you’ve been doing the job for a long time. Then you have these moments and you see the light kind of ignite.

When students use the parks and the ranger’s expertise in learning, bonds develop between staff and students.

For me, for the home-schooled class, I can see this light in their eyes and I just know I’m making them think about things that maybe they would never have thought about before, I know that I’m making a difference, an impact. And, it’s just incredibly rewarding.

Life…and learning…is better outside.

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

The Outdoor Classroom

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
homeschool

A homeschool student enjoying his outdoor classroom.

This is Passport to Texas

Imagine a classroom without walls; one that, instead, is in the middle of nature. You don’t have to imagine. State parks welcome a growing number of home-schooled children annually.

I try to do at least one or two home school programs a month

Amy Kocurek is an Interpretative ranger at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. She says students who come to her park do more than sit, listen and memorize.

[We are] a little more hand on. That’s how I think students really learn. When they do something themselves or they experience it in nature. That’s what I try to facilitate – having that one on one experience.

Rangers like Kocurek create learning opportunities where students work on their own and with classmates to explore and understand the complexities of the natural world.

A lot of programs I do for them are programs that I do on the weekend. But, with the home schoolers, you can add a little bit more of an educational sort of classroom component and you can take a lot longer with them.

Classes range from one to three hours and, when possible, make use of the park’s unique features. Topics are wide-ranging and may include reptile studies, Monarch butterflies and fall leaf chemistry.

It’s a little different from regular park visitation or field trips. The home schoolers keep coming back. You build bonds with these kids.

Life… and learning… is better outside. We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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