Dark Skies Over the Devil’s River

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.

Time to Get Your Birding Team Together

March 12th, 2019
Great Texas Birding Classic

Great Texas Birding Classic

This is Passport to Texas

Now in its 23rd year, the statewide, Great Texas Birding Classic remains one of the premier birding events in the world. It offers tournaments for every skill level.

[Like] the general naturalist who’s just getting started and knows a few birds could easily do the Big Sit. There are people that are really avid birders and keep lists and travel for birding, and they might choose to do a Big Day or a Big Week. There are youth tournaments for the kids who are just getting started and have some mentors who are helping them along the way. And then there are some mixed age tournaments that I think are a lot of fun for families to do. So there truly is something for everyone.

Shelly Plante oversees nature tourism at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Find details about the tournament at birdingclassic.org. The Classic runs from April 15th through May 15th. Money raised from fees goes to fund habitat conservation projects.

We have funded acquisition projects. We have funded restoration projects—which is invasive species removal and restoring habitat back to its natural state with native species. We’ve done enhancement projects for birders, which is putting in boardwalks or bird blinds or pavilions. So, we have done a lot of projects throughout the state of Texas.

Sign up at birdingclassic.org for updates; register your team by the April first deadline. Do it for the birds.

We receive support from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve

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

TPW TV–Blanco River Recovery

March 7th, 2019

TPWD TV week of March 10, 2019

This is Passport to Texas

When a forty-foot wall of water thundered down the Blanco River on Memorial Day weekend of 2015, it claimed 13 lives, destroyed hundreds of homes, and ravaged the land along the banks. The recovery process for humans and nature continues.

The flood of 2015 caused massive devastation to the Blanco River landscape, there was a loss of a lot of vegetation, a lot of trees, a lot of soil scour, and what we see here is an eco-system in recovery.

Ryan McGillicuddy is a Texas Parks and Wildlife conservation ecologist with Inland Fisheries.

Healthy native stream-side vegetation provides a number of ecological functions including bank stability, because its roots are deep and strong.  It also provides a water quality function by filtering run-off and pollutants, but also, importantly, this healthy stream-side vegetation is also an extreme benefit to our fish and wildlife populations.

Healthy stream-side vegetation benefits our fish and wildlife populations, including the Guadalupe Bass. At one time this fish had been pushed completely out of the Blanco River system by non-native small mouth bass. But through management and restocking, it’s rebounding.

We’ve been able to document that the fish that we’ve stocked are now reproducing in the wild, so it’s been a pretty remarkable success story.

Experience the story of the recovery of a community, a river and wildlife on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series the week of March 10 on PBS.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

A Coveted Culinary Experience

March 6th, 2019
Chef Jesse Griffiths.

Chef Jesse Griffiths.

This is Passport to Texas

Llano Springs Ranch, an award-winning property at the headwaters of the South Llano River, is the site of a coveted culinary retreat with chef Jesse Griffiths.

We’ve partnered with Jesse and Explore Ranches to offer an opportunity to learn about foraging and preparation of wild game on the South Llano River.

Jay Kleberg is Director of Conservation Initiatives at Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the non-profit arm of Texas Parks and Wildlife. Anyone who becomes a foundation member by March 8th is entered in a drawing for the retreat.

On this particular retreat we’re actually going to harvest that animal before the group comes, but it will be fresh. And then all the additional items that we’ll pair with both axis deer and with fish from the Llano River, we’ll harvest while we’re there on the property.

The culinary retreat is April 24th – 26th.

If they don’t win this particular experience, they have the opportunity to be entered into raffles for future experiences [in 2019]. The dollars that they’re contributing to become members are going to projects that benefit all Texans and wildlife and wild places.

Become a foundation member by March 8th to be entered in the drawing for a culinary retreat with Chef Jesse Griffiths. Details at wewillnotbetamed.org.

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

Something Bigger Than Yourself

March 5th, 2019
Paddling at Llano Springs.

Paddling at Llano Springs.

This is Passport to Texas

As the non-profit partner of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation raises funds to support agency initiatives to preserve the state’s wild places and wild things.

Like conserving Texas rivers, and restoring pronghorn to the plains of West Texas. And, we led the effort on the acquisition of Powderhorn Ranch.

Jay Kleberg is Director of Conservation Initiatives at Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation . The Powderhorn Ranch acquisition, alone, was a 50-million-dollar project to preserve 17-thousand acres along the Texas coast; land that will become a state park. They’re able to do this important work with a dedicated membership base that is passionate about the outdoors.

In Texas, people are passionate about wildlife and conservation and water and open spaces. And so, I’m really proud of all of the members we have. And this year, we’ve started a membership awareness campaign and through We Will Not Be Tamed, and our website wewillnotbetamed.org, folks can join as members of the foundation.

Become a member by March 8th to be entered into a drawing for a coveted culinary retreat at Llano Springs Ranch with celebrated Chef, Jesse Griffiths, and his New School of Traditional Cookery.

Details at wewillnotbetamed.org.

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