Milkweed for Monarchs

August 25th, 2016
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the iconic monarch butterfly during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at passporttotexas.org.

Find an article about milkweeds by Jason Singhurst in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Leasing Land for Angler Access

August 24th, 2016
Here's what river access can get you.

Here’s what river access can get you.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife has expanded angler access to some of the state’s 191-thousand miles of rivers through a lease program.

We’re trying to bring in private landowners to help be a solution to open up angler access to rivers.

Tim Birdsong is chief of habitat conservation for Texas Parks and wildlife. Landowners who participate in the program receive monthly lease payments and even funds for site improvements.

Such as trails, or parking areas. If there’s an interest, we support habitat improvements…addressing, sometimes, erosion issues, or maybe loss of vegetation along the stream bank that’s resulting in some kind of bank instability. So, there are a lot of things we can do at these sites to help benefit not just their general management of the site, but also provide for a better user experience.

Birdsong says users ought not to expect a family-friendly parklike setting.

This is more about showcasing a natural, functional, healthy river system. This is for folks that are experienced paddlers, and anglers that really know how to [navigate and] fish a river. Rivers are inherently dangerous and somewhat unforgiving. But we do want to provide an opportunity for people to experience what a natural, flowing river is.

Find more information about the program and river ecosystems on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Landowners Key to River Access for Angling

August 23rd, 2016
Landowners are the key to river access for angling in Texas.

Landowners are the key to river access for angling in Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

As 95-percent of Texas land is privately owned, angler access to rivers is challenging.

Our laws are such that many of the larger rives in the state are publicly navigable, so anglers—the public—have a right to recreate in those river segments. But, accessing those rivers is very difficult, because you have to cross land; often that land is under private ownership.

Tim Birdsong is chief of habitat conservation for Texas Parks and wildlife. Through leases with landowners, Texas Parks and Wildlife has expanded angler access along the 191-thousand miles of rivers in Texas.

The program is intended to be a win-win scenario for landowners and for anglers. If they have a property that’s a good fit, and really does expand bank, wade and kayak fishing in the state, and they’re interested in making some money off of that, then what they do is participate in this lease program. We provide some funds for a monthly lease payment. We also provide funding for site improvements such as trails or parking areas. If there’s an interest, we will support habitat improvements.

Angler access improvements in Texas are funded primarily through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

Find additional information about angler river access and how to get involved in the program on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Expanding River Access for Anglers

August 22nd, 2016
South Llano River

South Llano River

This is Passport to Texas

Looking for a serene, wilderness experience and a high-quality fishing opportunity? You can hardly do better than one of Texas’ scenic, wild and storied rivers—if you can access them, that is.

Land ownership issues in Texas make it challenging for anglers to be able to access rivers.

Ninety-five percent of land in our state is in private hands. Tim Birdsong is chief of habitat conservation for Texas Parks and wildlife.

We have some access adjacent to right-of-ways of bridge crossings. Some cities, counties and state parks have river access. But, in general, there is very limited access to rivers around the state.

Public land with the best access may end up in Texas’ paddling trails program.

So, these are defined launch areas for paddling in general—for [angling], birding and other sorts of wildlife oriented recreation that can be done in these river segments. But, even with around 70 paddling trails in the state, that still only provides access to a small fraction of the 191-thousand miles of river that we have in Texas.

Tomorrow: a new a public-private partnership that’s creating more river access for anglers.

Meanwhile, find paddling trail information and maps on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

TPW TV – Yoga Hike

August 19th, 2016
Yoga Hike

Yoga Hike, Image via YogaHike.Net Photographer Olympia Sobande

This is Passport to Texas

Tai Chi enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who exercise in the outdoors. Christopher Howell leads yoga hikes at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin.

What yoga hike is, is just like it sounds. I mean, we hike and we do a little yoga. The trails are so nice. We do the 2.8 mile Onion Creek Trail. I love how the trails are carved out. They’re easy to follow. Any age level can hike.

Join Howell’s Yoga Hike during a segment on the TPW TV Show on PBS the week of August 21.

So, we do a little warm up to get started. I have people get fully present. Focus on why they’re here. What they want to do while they’re here. Get ‘em ready to do a hike.

Both the hike and the yoga are gentle. And Howell says, both allow participants to connect with the natural world.

I want people to feel more connected to nature. Not to feel as though they’re something separate from nature. They are nature. They’re an animal. And so, doing a hike, and doing a little bit of yoga, seems to narrow that gap. And as we become more aware of that, we treat each other better. We treat nature better.

Find out how Christopher Howell’s yoga students end their hike, when you watch the TPW TV show on PBS the week of August 21. You’ll want to join them.

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