This Volunteer Helps Nature Rock Texas

May 14th, 2018

Walter Stankiewicz and the kiddos. Image: Texas Children in Nature

This is Passport to Texas

After graduating from college and working in government, Walter Stankiewicz wanted a change.

I have a degree in international business, with lots of experience regarding government and outdoor work. So, I figured: what can I do to combine those elements.

This Pennsylvania native landed in Austin, where he serves as an Americorps Vista Volunteer for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He works with the Texas Children in Nature Program, and Nature Rocks Texas.

Nature rocks Texas is a program that’s is a way to target, communicate with and engage our audiences. Mostly children, and the children’s parent, of course. The goal of Nature Rocks Texas is to highlight green space and nature and activities at nature themed places, and nature themed events.

These programs remove barriers to equitable access to nature for children and families. Access to the outdoors, says Walter, benefits everyone, especially children.

Because it makes children happier, healthier and smarter. Of course, there’s more meat to it than that. A book came out about 15 years ago called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louve. He identified and defined this term: nature deficit disorder, meaning especially children who are not engaged in nature are losing a vital element of both formal and informal education, and also they’re losing a part of growing up that renders a very healthy, optimistic and happier mindset for the rest of your life. That’s the essence of why we’re doing this.

That’s our show…. brought to you in part by Ram trucks: built to serve.

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

TPW TV- Goliad Paddling Trail

May 11th, 2018

Enjoying time on the Goliad Paddling Trail

This is Passport to Texas

Goliad State Park and Historic Site was the first park to host an inland paddling trail. The trail meanders along the San Antonio River.

It’s about 6.1 miles of beautiful pristine river. The site here in our park is the take out site. The other developed areas to get on the paddling trail is north of our park. So once you get to the park people have to get off the river unless they want to continue to float with no easy access to get off.

Brenda Justice is park superintendent. Next week the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS features the trail and the folks who love it, including Charles Clapsaddle.

The six and a half miles current trail I can make in about an hour and a half, most people take a little over two hours. We will go pretty close to downtown Goliad, a couple of blocks from the courthouse and you wouldn’t know you were near a town. You hear crickets and cicadas and birds, nothing that sounds like humans. It’s a nice friendly river.

Even people new to paddling will enjoy the Goliad Trail.

It’s a coastal stream so it has muddy banks. Grass and trees grow right down to the bank. You usually see a lot of wildlife because of that. It’s good for families. You don’t have to be a skilled canoeist or a kayaker to enjoy the river. Right now we’re just drifting, we’re floating on the current.
Get a sense of the Goliad paddling trail’s serene beauty next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

That’s our show…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

Texas Boaters: Time to Clean, Drain & Dry

May 10th, 2018

Zebra mussels on a boat motor.

This is Passport to Texas

Texans can help to protect their lakes this summer by properly cleaning, draining and drying boats and equipment every time they leave the water.

The threats to Texas’ aquatic ecosystems are many. In East Texas, the primary threat is giant salvinia – a highly invasive, free-floating aquatic fern that can make fishing, boating, swimming and other water recreation nearly impossible.

Another threat, Zebra mussels, have spread from North Texas to other lakes in East and Central Texas. These mussels can ruin shorelines with sharp shells, impact recreation, hurt native aquatic life, damage boats and clog water intakes.

If boaters take a few minutes to properly clean, drain and dry everything that touches the water before they leave, they become part of the solution. These simple steps can make a huge difference in our efforts to protect and preserve Texas lakes for future generations.

If you need incentive: the transport of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble for boaters, and it is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation.

Learn more about giant salvinia, zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas at texasinvasives.org.

The Sport Fish restoration Program supports our series.

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

Effects of Drought on Bass (it’s not all bad)

May 9th, 2018

Angler Stacy Spriggs of Huntsville caught the 13.06 pound, 27 inch Legacy Class lunker during the Second Annual Stanley Burgay Memorial Bass Tournament on a Carolina rig in 8 feet of water.

This is Passport to Texas

Lake Travis is the site of this year’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest May 17-20th.

Just a few short years ago the lake was at historic low levels due to extreme drought. However, Dave Terre, chief of fish management and research at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says, the drought contributed to improvements in the fishery.

During those low water years, what happened is a lot of terrestrial vegetation grew up into the lake bed, or on the edges of the lake. Then, in 2015, when we caught all that new water, it flooded all that terrestrial vegetation, creating an immense amount of fish habitat at the lake. Then, TPWD came in there and stocked Florida largemouth bass into the reservoir; plus we had a lot of natural spawning of bass also at the same time, and the bass population just took off wildly. And now, we’re just seeing the result of that increased fish production. And these strong year classes of fish up pushing through. And fishing has really been amazing on Lake Travis. And now is a great opportunity with the Toyota Bass Master Texas Fest to showcase this great fishery to a worldwide audience.

It’s free to attend the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, May 17-20th, on Lake Travis. Find details at bassmaster.com.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

It’s Back: Toyota Texas Bassmaster Texas Fest

May 8th, 2018

Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest

This is Passport to Texas

Excellent management has made Texas a destination for bass fishing. And more than a hundred of the nation’s top professional bass anglers will be at Lake Travis, May 17-20, for the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest.

Well, what’s so cool about this event in its 12 fabulous years is we’ve gotten the opportunity to showcase our fisheries all across the state.

Dave Terre is chief of fish management and research at TPW, and helps to coordinate the event for the agency.

The event is really a benefit event for Texas Parks and Wildlife, to help the department raise funds to benefit our youth fishing activities; including the neighborhood fishin’ program, the state fish art contest, and other programs that get youth involved in fishing.

An Outdoor Adventures Area will provide visitors a chance to meet pro anglers and participate in outdoor activities.

Where the weigh-ins happen, there’ll be an onsite expo. Families can come, learn how to cast, meet a fisheries biologist, learn how to camp, learn about our state parks. You can learn about how we do our fisheries management business. You can learn all about the outdoors in our Outdoor Adventures Area. So it’s a great time to come and get the kids involved, and we hope everybody will come and enjoy this.

It’s free to attend the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, May 17-20th, on Lake Travis at Jones Brothers Park. Find details at bassmaster.com.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.