After the Floods

July 3rd, 2015
Cedar Hill State Park, photo © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Cedar Hill State Park, photo © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

This is Passport to Texas

Memorial Day floods swept through communities in Texas taking lives and homes, and they also struck more than 50 state parks.

05– And so, we’re going to have a lot of rebuilding and restoring in the weeks and months, and really, years ahead.

Carter Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director. As the rivers and creeks along many state parks recede, park employees are assessing the damage and are grateful that no one was injured. Yet, Texas Parks and Wildlife will feel the loss of revenue from visitor fees, which pay about half the cost to run the state park system.

08– Because of the diminished visitation–because the parks simply aren’t accessible now or will be in the near future–that’s going to have a significant impact on the agency.

However, there is hope for recovery.

16– Looks like the Legislature is going to provide some significant capital funding this session, but we are going to obviously have to look at re-prioritizing it. Address the tyranny of the urgent. And right now the tyranny of the urgent is all of the flooding that resulted from this horrific Memorial Day Flood event.

Keep up with park recovery progress when you visit

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

July Fourth Festivities in Parks

July 2nd, 2015
Fireworks Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center;Image from KYTX-TV, Tyler

Fireworks Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center;Image from KYTX-TV, Tyler

This is Passport to Texas

Celebrate our Nation’s Independence this weekend at a nearby Texas State Park. Parks throughout the state are offering a variety of activities for the whole family July Fourth.

Celebrate the 4th of July the old fashioned way at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm at LBJ State Park in Johnson City in the Texas Hill Country. Cavort with the chickens and cows and see re-enactors in action; yes, there was life before smart phones.

In East Texas, Daingerfield State Park will be hosting a Dutch oven cook-off competition on July 4th. Prizes will be awarded for best Main Dish, Dessert, and Kid’s Cooked Dish.

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, also in East Texas, wants you to bring your decorated bike, trike, strollers and wagons for a patriotic parade around the Park on July fourth. The Parade begins at 10:30 am and travels around the Bee Tree and Broken Bowl campsites/shelter area. Campers are encouraged to decorate their sites and stand outside to cheer on the cyclists. Stay afterwards for games and hot dogs.

And if a July Fourth firework display is what you’re after, find them at the birthplace of Texas– Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site–as well as the Texas Fresh Water Fishers Center in Athens.

That’s our show–Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Cooking Fish with a French Twist

July 1st, 2015
Previous Central Market Class making Elk Burgers at  Fort Worth Coking School, photo by Brett Johnson.

Previous Central Market Class at Fort Worth location, photo by Brett Johnson.

This is Passport to Texas

Since the French flag flew over Texas, and since the area they originally colonized was on the Texas coast, and since Bastille Day, which celebrates the beginning of the French revolution is July 14, Texas Parks and Wildlife, with Central Market Cooking Schools statewide, is holding cooking public classes on July 14 that feature seafood with a French twist.

08—I love the saltwater as well as freshwater. But the saltwater you have more variety. You never know what you’re going to pull up. It’s exciting – like Christmas morning.

That’s Cindy Haenel, an avid angler and a staff chef at the Austin Central Market Cooking School. Snapper, shrimp, and striped bass will take on the flavors of France during the class. The key to preparing any fish dish to perfection—French or otherwise—is to not overcook it.

22—Most people, if they don’t like the taste of fish, it’s probably because they’ve overcooked it. And, as it cooks, and the oil of the fish starts to come out of the flesh, it burns very, very quickly. So, if you will undercook your fish, or protect that fish with either a salt crust, or even if it just has a little butter, or some kind of fat on the outside it still protecting that fish while it’s cooking.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife representative will be on hand to discuss the various species on the plate as well as coastal fishing in Texas.

Find a Central Market Cooking School Registration at

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

Rules About Fireworks in State Parks

June 30th, 2015
Fireworks at San Jacinto State Historic Site

Fireworks at San Jacinto State Historic Site

This is Passport to Texas

The July fourth holiday is upon us, and with it comes a burning desire for making our own big booms. But, when it comes to celebrating our nation’s birthday at Texas state parks, feel free to bring the barbeque, the watermelon and the outdoor games–but leave the fireworks at home.

06-It is illegal in Texas state parks–it is a Class C misdemeanor to possess fireworks in a state park.

We’re not trying to put a damper on your Independence Day fun, but Wes Masur, state park law enforcement coordinator at Texas Parks and Wildlife, says parks are no place for fireworks. Even sparklers get two thumbs down.

09–Within the state park system we have different types of wildlife and different types of grasses and we don’t want to get any type of forest fire started–people are there to enjoy the state parks.

Devastating wildfires have started for much less. While some state parks do offer organized fireworks displays, not everyone appreciates these holiday pyrotechnics even when allowed.

05–Some people don’t like fireworks–the noises that go along with that stuff–we just don’t allow it in the state parks.

Find out which state parks offer public fireworks displays, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlif…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Lone Star Land Steward: Rancho ZunZun

June 29th, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

Roxanne and Elvis Hernandez live in Bastrop County and turned their 53 acre Rancho ZunZun into a thriving wildlife habitat with enhanced Houston Toad protection.

10-Roxanne and Elvis, they are so passionate about their land stewardship ont heir property for all wildlife species–not just the Houston Toad.

Their hard work earned them a Lone Star Land Steward Regional award for the Lost Pines ecosystem. Wildlife biologist, Meredith Longoria, provides the couple with technical assistance.

15-They have taken leaps and bounds since they started through the landowner Incentive Program, including: native grass plating, and pine reforestation, and prescribed burning. They’ve utilized just about every tool they’ve learned about on their property.

The Lone Star Land Steward awards honor landowners who preserve our natural heritage. The Hernandez’s bought their land in 2004, and began restoration work.

25– We planted 35-hundred trees the year right before the drought. Here, this whole area was filled with cedars–you couldn’t even walk through here–and we had that removed and cleared, and did the prescribed burn back in 2012. Yeah, you can still see all the burn scars on the trees. For our wildlife management, we provide supplemental shelter, which are the brush piles; we have five nest boxes, which are frequented by bluebirds. We have a bat box.

They said they’ve seen all wildlife populations on the ranch flourish. Learn more about the Lone Star Land Steward Program on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

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