City Nature Challenge

February 22nd, 2018
Photo: iNaturalist.org

Photo: iNaturalist.org

This is Passport to Texas

Game for some friendly competition? Then join teams from 60 cities, on six continents, to compete during the City Nature Challenge—April 27-30th. Teams will attempt to document more plant and animal species in their regions than competitors in other regions.

And we are using a format called iNaturalist, which is a real easy way of collecting data. All you have to do is take pictures of things. You don’t even have to know what it is.

Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist and Austin area challenge coordinator, Marsha May, says they need more experts to help verify data.

Professionals. People who know their plants. People who know their insects. Their invertebrates. Any of these organisms, to help us verify the data. You don’t have to live in any of the regions. Go to iNaturalist—especially those who use it regularly—because we need to get the data verified for it to count towards the contest.

Seven regions in Texas are hosting teams. Find them on the Nature Trackers page of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

It would be a good idea in advance, if people would check out iNaturalist.org. And join iNaturalist and see what it’s all about—practice it. And then when the time comes, they would just join the project as they’re collecting their data.

How the City Nature Challenge works… tomorrow.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Habitat for Monarchs and other Pollinators

February 21st, 2018
Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly on milkweed.

This is Passport to Texas

For as long as biologists have been studying the iconic monarch butterfly, they’ve come up with more questions than answers about its biology and basic needs. The biggest question: do land management practices, like controlled burns and reseeding with native plants improve monarch habitat?

We have lots of questions about patch size, too.

That’s Ben Hutchins, the state’s invertebrate biologist. So, what is patch size?

When I say ‘patch size’ what I mean is, how far will a monarch travel to get from one plot of nectar producing plants to another? How big of a prairie do we need to support healthy monarch populations? How many milkweed in it? What density do we need across the landscape to promote healthy breeding populations?

Expansive patches of prairie are best, but hard to come by due to urbanization. Having said that—all is not lost.

Even urban environments have lots of potential for habitat for monarchs moving through; so you have urban corridors. So, there’s no property that’s too big or too small to help out monarchs and other urban pollinators.

That means even planting native nectar producing plants and milkweed in empty lots, on building rooftops, or in containers on your downtown balcony—you are playing a role in supporting monarch and native pollinators.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Questions About Monarch Butterflies

February 20th, 2018
Monarchs

Monarchs-Photo by Monika Maeckle

This is Passport to Texas

Here’s what you need to know about scientific discovery: it starts with a question. And that leads to—not answers —not immediately, anyway. It leads to more questions.

They just keep coming.

Ben Hutchins, the state’s invertebrate biologist, has been asking a lot of questions lately about monarch butterflies.

That’s right. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. And so, many of us that are involved in monarch conservation have been to a number of conferences, meetings, workshops, symposia. And a big emphasis is on all of the questions that we still have about monarch biology. I think the biggest question, particularly, for conservationists for natural resource managers is: what can we do to make the landscape good monarch habitat. How can we be good stewards of the land to make sure monarchs are getting what they need?

See what I mean?

We have lots of questions about how particular land management practices, like using controlled burns, or reseeding with native plants—how those practices can best be used to produce good monarch habitat. We have lots of questions about patch size, too.

And if your next question is: what does Ben Hutchins mean by patch size? You’ll have to listen next time to find out.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Feel the (Prescribed) Burn

February 19th, 2018
Prescribed burn underway.

Prescribed burn underway.

This is Passport to Texas

Man mimics nature when he uses fire as a land management tool. He does this with controlled burning, and with prescribed fire.

David Riskin, director of natural resources for state parks, says there is a difference between the two.

Controlled burning is a term that people use that you start at part A, and you burn until you get to part B. Professional land managers use the term prescribed fire because you have specific objectives, you have specific outcomes, you burn under very specific conditions. And so a prescription is a planning document… you lay everything out ahead of time and you then implement it with very specific objectives in mind.

Those objectives naturally have to do with land management, as well as a range of various objectives a landowner may hope to achieve.

There can be a whole series of objectives. From very simple things like fuel load reduction. You can have specific habitat objectives…to change the vegetation structure and composition to support waterfowl, or to support antelope, or lesser prairie chickens…or Houston toads for that matter.

Learn more about prescribed fire on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Reel in a Lunker and Get Some “Loot”

February 16th, 2018
angler with bass

Angler Larry Mosby with his 13.06 pound ShareLunker! Entry #567

 

This is Passport to Texas

This year, the Toyota Sharelunker program expanded to include largemouth bass eight pounds or more. Anglers may submit data year-round into one of four classes: Lunker, Lunker Elite, Lunker Legend and Lunker Legacy.

And anglers can submit a fish into one of those four classes through our mobile app or our web based form.

Kyle Brookshear oversees the program.

Our mobile app allows an angler to enter the data field, such as the date and time that it was caught—the weight the length. And then document those with a photograph and submit those to us. And once they’re reviewed and confirmed, they’ll be entered into the program.

Lunker Legacy class permits anglers to submit their data and loan 13+ pound lunkers caught during the January 1st—March 31st spawning window.

For entering, an angler in any of those categories receives a catch kit. In addition to that, everyone who enters into one of those four categories, is included in a grand prize drawing of a $5K shopping spree at the end of the year. Those anglers that enter the Legacy Class program are in an additional drawing for another $5K shopping spree.

Find details about the program changes as well as the items found in each catch kit, and how to submit your catch data at texassharelunker.com.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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