Saving the plains bison, at Caprock Canyon State Park, Texas

July 8, 2014

Few days go by that I don’t hear from some Texas yahoo about the futility of conservation, especially attempts to save sustainable populations of animals near or teetering on the brink of extinction.

American bison galloping. Photos by Eadweard Muybridge, first published in 1887 in Animal Locomotion. Wikipedia image

American bison galloping. Photos by early motion-studying photographer Eadweard Muybridge, first published in 1887 in Animal Locomotion. Wikipedia image

Conservation works.  Conservation works in Texas.  How can they ignore stories like this one, about the conservation of the plains bison, at Texas’s Caprock Canyon State Park?

This film from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department illustrates and discusses the work going on at Caprock Canyon SP to keep a herd of bison there healthy and reproducing:

Published on Feb 1, 2013

Caprock Canyons State Park in the Texas Panhandle holds the last remnants of pure Southern Plains Bison that once numbered in the millions on this land. Watch as this historic herd is restored to its native habitat. For details on visiting the park, see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-par…

If we had a national mammal, is there much doubt the noble American buffalo would be it?

Defenders of Wildlife range map, showing where to find bison in North America. DoW said: Bison once roamed across much of North America. Today bison are ecologically extinct throughout most of their historic range, except for a few national parks and other small wildlife areas. Yellowstone National Park has the largest population of free-roaming plains bison (about 4,000), and Wood Buffalo National Park has the largest population of free-roaming wood bison (about 10,000).

Defenders of Wildlife range map, showing where to find bison in North America. DoW said: Bison once roamed across much of North America. Today bison are ecologically extinct throughout most of their historic range, except for a few national parks and other small wildlife areas. Yellowstone National Park has the largest population of free-roaming plains bison (about 4,000), and Wood Buffalo National Park has the largest population of free-roaming wood bison (about 10,000).

You can see that conservation is not easy, that serious conservation of animals takes cooperation between governments, federal, state, county and local.  Throw in migratory birds, and you’re talking international efforts.

But it’s worth it, at least to me.  Wholly apart from the direct benefits to humans — the discovery of drugs like digitalis and tamoxifen, for example — we learn so much about how the planet operates, how nature operates.  We get a view into the ideas of God, if not a direct view into the universe’s creative mind.

There are two recognized subspecies in North America: Bison bison bison and B. b. athabascae.  We have populations saved in small plots across the U.S.:  In and around Yellowstone National Park; on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake; in Utah’s Henry Mountains in the south central part of the state; at the LBJ Grasslands (National Forest); and at Caprock Canyons State Park.  At one time, millions of the plains subspecies migrated for hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles, harvesting grass and turning the soil to make the North American Great Plains one of the most productive habitats for plants and animals on the face of the Earth.  We screwed that up a bit.  The same area today does not produce equally to 200 years ago in fiber and meat, despite modern farming and ranching.

Maybe we can learn a lot more from these creatures, about how to keep food supplies going for that other common, though self-threatened species, Homo sapiens.

Probably can’t improve on the video, but I hope to get some good photos of these creatures for myself, this summer.  Check the map above. If your summer travels take you close to a population of bison, why not stop in and visit?

More:

World Wildlife Fund image of plains bison, mother and calf

World Wildlife Fund image of plains bison, mother and calf, and caption: Historically bison were the dominant grazer on the Northern Great Plains landscape. This dominance shaped the landscape by affecting the pattern and structure of the grasses and vegetation that grew, and it was this vegetation pattern that allowed animals to flourish.


Another conservation success: Bearded vulture returns to the Alps

May 31, 2014

Do conservation efforts pay off?  Yes, they do.

Film comes from the European-based Vulture Conservation Foundation.

Since the film, more of these majestic animals have been released.  Here are photos from the release on Friday, May 30:

Workers and volunteers from the Vulture Conservation Foundation, climbing the Alps to release to the wild another captive-raised bearded vulture.

Workers and volunteers from the Vulture Conservation Foundation, climbing the Alps to release to the wild another captive-raised bearded vulture. (We might assume the vulture is in the box.)

One must respect these volunteers, climbing such tors simply to watch a bird fly away.

The line of hiking Vulture Conservation Foundation volunteers stretched across an alpine mountain for a release on May 30, 2014.

The line of hiking Vulture Conservation Foundation volunteers stretched across an alpine mountain for a release on May 30, 2014.

You can tell

Not ready for his (her?) close up, this bearded vulture may be wildly happy, or sad to leave those who raised it.  Vultures, it may be said, are often inscrutable.  Vulture Conservation Foundation photos.

Not ready for his (her?) close up, this bearded vulture may be wildly happy, or sad to leave those who raised it. Vultures, it may be said, are often inscrutable. Vulture Conservation Foundation photos.

Tip of the old scrub brush to bird conservationist Amanda Holland.


Eye to eye with a black vulture

May 26, 2014

Great photo out of a group at the University of George studying carrion-eating birds.  They capture vultures — black vultures are a current project.

Close up of an eye of a black vulture.  Photo by Megan Winzeler, at a University of Georgia research project.

Close up of an eye of a black vulture. Photo by Megan Winzeler, at a University of Georgia research project. Note the photographer, reflected in the bird’s eye.

This bird has the unromantic name of BLVU202.

“The last thing the old prospector would see . . .”


Why World Turtle Day 2014?

May 23, 2014

English: Turtles. Français : Tortoises. Deutsc...

English: Turtles. Français : Tortoises. Deutsch: Schildkröten. Griechische Schildkröte (Testudo graeca). ¼. Klappschildkröte (Cinosternum pensylvanicum). ¼. Sumpfschildkröte (Cistudo lutaria). ¼. Matamata (Chelys fimbriata). 1/16. Großkopfschildkröte (Platysternum megalocephalurn). ¼. Lederschildkröte (Dermatochelys coriacea). 1/20. Karettschildkröte (Chelone imbricata). 1/20. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May 23 is World Turtle Day.  In fact, this is the 14th World Turtle Day.

No grand pronouncements from Congress, probably — American Tortoise Rescue picked a day, and that was that.  Their press release for 2014:

American Tortoise Rescue Celebrates World Turtle Day 2014 on May 23rd

Be sure to follow us on Facebook for fun contests and recipes! https://www.facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay

Suggested Tweet:  Celebrate #WorldTurtleDay on May 23 with @TortoiseRescue 

Malibu, CA – May 14, 2014 –  American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) (www.tortoise.com), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its 14th annual World Turtle Day on May 23rd.  The day was created as an observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.  Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles.  Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes.  ATR assists law enforcement when undersized or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.

“We launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures,” said Tellem. “These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild thanks to the pet trade, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced.  It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.”  (See slide show here.)

Tellem added, “We are thrilled to learn that organizations and individuals throughout the world now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.” She recommends that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for future generations:

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy highway, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
  • Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to endangered sea turtle deaths.
  • Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
  • Report the use of tiny turtles as prizes at carnivals and other events.  It’s illegal.
  • Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.  This is illegal to buy and sell them throughout the U.S.

“Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world.  Our first priority here in the U.S. is to ask pet stores and reptile shows to stop the sale of hatchling tortoises and turtles without proper information for the buyer,” says Thompson.  “For example, many people buy sulcata tortoises as an impulse buy because they are so adorable when they are tiny.  The breeders and pet stores frequently do not tell the buyers that this tortoise can grow to 100 pounds or more and needs constant heat throughout the year since they do not hibernate.”

He added, “We also need to educate people and schools about the real risk of contracting salmonella from water turtles.  Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into homes where children are under the age of 12.”

For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at http://www.tortoise.com or send e-mail to info@tortoise.com; on Twitter @tortoiserescue; “Like” American Tortoise Rescue on Facebook; and follow World Turtle Day on Facebook. 

Here’s to you Freddie, the Western Box Tortoise from Idaho, and Truck, the desert tortoise from Southern Utah, the friends of my youth.  And all you others.

Red-eared sliders, turtles at Texas Discovery Gardens - photo by Ed Darrell

Red-eared sliders cluster together to catch the sun on a spring day at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park in Dallas. Photo by Ed Darrell, 2010

More, from 2013:


Poster for World Turtle Day (May 23, 2014)

May 23, 2014

World Turtle Day, Share the Roads!

Nice reminder, featuring an Eastern Box Tortoise (I think). Image from Conscious Companion.

A poster from last year.  Still accurate for World Turtle Day 2014.

Have a great World Turtle Day!  Go do something nice for your neighborhood turtles and tortoises.

Other views:

From there, it’s turtles all the way down!

 

More:

 


Insta-Millard: Department of Interior’s quick take on climate change report

May 9, 2014

Department of Interior’s video this week leads with climate change — and in fact, each segment deals with climate change in some way.

Published on May 9, 2014

This week: the White House releases the third annual National Climate Assessment, showing that climate change is already affecting Americans and the U.S. economy; USGS releases a Climate Change Viewer that can track water resource changes at the county, state, and watershed level; Secretary Jewell joins California leaders and first responders as the state braces for another tough wildfire season; the Secretary meets with community leaders and experts to talk about the balance between conservation and smart development; the Secretary announces the approval of a new solar energy project on tribal lands in Nevada, and attends the 69th Departmental Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, DC.


Happy 142nd birthday, Yellowstone National Park!

March 1, 2014

142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America's first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Tweet from the Department of Interior: 142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America’s first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Ken Burns called the National Parks probably the best idea America has had.

Certainly a great idea — really born on this day, 142 years ago, with the designation of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone NP contains the world’s largest collection of geysers. It is the heart of the largest, nearly-intact temperate zone ecosystem on Earth as well, contained in 3,468 square miles (8,983 km²), a laboratory and playground for geologists, geographers, botanists, zoologists, and almost anyone else who loves the nature and the wild.

Only 142 years old?  In the U.S., we have more than 300 units in the National Park System, now, including National Historic Places as well as the best of the wild.  Around the world, how much land has been saved, for the benefit of humanity, by this idea?  Not enough.

What’s your favorite memory of Yellowstone? What’s your favorite feature?

More:

Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high.  Photograph by Michael Melford

From National Geographic: Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high. Photograph by Michael Melford


New Boy Scout merit badge: Sustainability

July 25, 2013

It’s Eagle required, too — well, Scouts can choose either Environmental Science or Sustainability, but must earn one or the other to earn Eagle rank.

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Requirements for the new Sustainability merit badge were released on July 16, concurrent with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit.  A lot of people missed the announcement, I’ll wager.

It’s good news.  Conservation and nature-related merit badges have suffered a decline in Scouting, it seems to me.  The conservation series was very much the keystone of a trek to Eagle when I was a Scout, at least as important as the citizenship series.  But I don’t see that emphasis in Scouting today, sadly.

BSA recently created a Mining merit badge, which created some quiet grumbles among conservationists — this new, Eagle-path badge more than makes up for that, I think (though mining is a great topic for Scouts, especially in the western U.S., I think).  This will not set well with the anti-conservation, anti-Agenda 21 crowd and their merry hoaxsters.  But nothing BSA does is removed from political criticism from the right any more (see this odd photo choice for the Sustainability badge notice at the radical right-wing Daily Caller site).

This announcement gives me hope.

More:

Below the fold, the requirements and announcement from Bryan on Scouting, at Scouting Magazine’s site, verbatim and in total.

Read the rest of this entry »


What about National Parks as an issue in the 2012 elections?

October 16, 2012

National Parks really are a tiny part of the federal budget.  Consequently, they get overlooked, and that could be bad.

How are your Congress and Senate candidates standing on these issues?

Romney’s “energy plan” calls for opening up the National Parks for oil and gas exploration and drilling, even the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania  Bet that’s not mentioned by anyone in the debate tonight.

Which one is your favorite unit of the National Park System?  What’s your favorite family story from visiting the parks?  How are you going to vote in November?

Graphic from the National Parks Conservation Association:

Parks in Jeopardy, 2012, NPCA

From the National Parks Conservation Association

More:


Agenda 21: In graphic novel form, so it must be the truth

August 23, 2012

What is Agenda 21?  It’s a program at the United Nations to work on economic development, sustainable development, environmental protection, resource conservation and economic policies.  As with almost all UN programs, Agenda 21 pronouncements are wholly voluntary.

Several international programs create studies and make recommendations to nations — but unless they come from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund along with loans to help nations develop, such recommendations remain mostly academic:  Nations follow them only to the extent that a nation’s policy-making groups (like Congress in the U.S.) are persuaded that the recommended policies benefit the nation.

For reasons unclear to me the wacky wing of the crazy right seized upon Agenda 21 as the symbol of most things evil in the world, especially since we don’t have the Soviet Union to blame stuff on any more.

Grist featured a graphic-novel-style explanation of Agenda 21, so you can follow the issues as they arise at the 2012 Republican Convention:  Agenda 21: Everything you need to know about the secret U.N. plot, in one comic.  Here is the entire post:

Agenda 21: It’s the biggest threat to your freedom, and unless you regularly attend yahoo-filled local planning and zoning meetings, you’ve probably never even heard of it. Until recently, this vast United Nations conspiracy to force us all to live “sustainably” was known only to stalwart defenders of Liberty and Freedom like the John Birch Society. But the underground resistance is about to go mainstream. GOP intellectual it boy Ted Cruz leads the counterstrike, and the Republican Party is even considering a public flambéing of Agenda 21in its official 2012 platform.

Looking to help break the siege of bike paths and high-quality education on our freedoms? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

First panel, Agenda 21 graphic documentary from Grist

Panel 1

Concocted by the U.N. during the 1992 Earth Summit and signed by the 1st President Bush ... in the dark of the night!

Panel 2

A comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control, Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities!

Panel 3

If implemented, Agenda 21 would wreak unspeakable havoc on the American way of life!

Panel 4

Imagine what our lives would be like under this Reign Of Terror!

Panel 5

Happily, there is a bright spot in this dark cloud! Shortly after the Earth Summit, the United States forgot Agenda 21 even existed!

Panel 6

This paranoid fantasy has been brought to you by: The Republican National Committee, The Water Fluoridators, The Gub'ment Mind Jockeys, and the evil elves that live in your walls!!!

Panel 7

Tip of the old scrub brush to Grist, and Charles Nesci and especially Greg Hanscom, the cartoonist.  Hanscom is a “senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.”

More (not a lot from sane sources on this topic):

More, a sampling from sources without hinges (a small selection):


John Muir: The saving of 100 million acres begins with a first word on paper

July 19, 2012

John Muir’s place in American history endures constant assault.  Not only did businessmen and politicians of his own day find Muir’s policies anathema to their hopes of profiting from the destruction of the American wild, so today do we hear that profits cannot be had without the rape of the environment.

Muir knew better, and so should you!

On July 19, 1869 — in the middle of the administration of U. S. Grant, Muir began his journals on the beauty of life in the Sierras, to be published 42 years later as My First Summer in the Sierra.

It should be required reading in more American classrooms:

John Muir

Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful…John Muir,
Entry for “July 19 from
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911.
“California As I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900

John Muir
John Muir,
1902.
The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

On July 19, 1869, naturalist John Muir set pen to paper to capture his experience of awakening in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra is based on Muir’s original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley. His journal tracks his three-and-a-half-month visit to the Yosemite region and his ascent of Mt. Hoffman and other Sierra peaks. Along the way, he describes the flora and fauna as well as the geography and geology of the area.

Muir immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin as a child. He attended the University of Wisconsin and began working as a mechanical inventor. After an 1867 industrial accident nearly blinded him, he abandoned his career as an inventor to work as a naturalist.

California, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
El Capitan,
Yosemite Valley,
California,
William Henry Jackson, photographer,
1899.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

An early defender of the environment, Muir in 1876 advocated adoption of a federal forest conservation program. His popular articles and books describing Yosemite’s natural wonders inspired public support for the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and expansion of the park in 1906.  At the same time, Muir continued to work and write as a serious scientist whose fieldwork in botany and geology enabled him to make lasting contributions. Alaska’s Muir Glacier is named for him. In 1892, Muir co-founded the as an association explicitly dedicated to wilderness preservation and served until 1914 as its first president, shaping it into an organization whose leadership in political advocacy for protection of the natural world continues to this day.

The popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt’s groundbreaking conservation program owed much to Muir’s writing. In 1903 Roosevelt and Muir visited the Yosemite region together. In 1908, Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California, in Muir’s honor. Muir died six years later. Although sorrow and disappointment at his failure to save Hetch Hetchy Valley from becoming a reservoir for San Francisco may well have contributed to his death, Muir had succeeded more than any other single individual in establishing the preservation of wild nature as a major American cultural and political value. The clarity of his vision and the eloquence of his writing continue to inspire environmentalists throughout the world.

Learn more about John Muir and the conservation movement in American Memory:


Right or wrong reasons, North Texas governments back into water conservation

April 4, 2012

It’s a win-win situation for North Texas politicians, like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings — they can take action that helps mitigate problems of global warming, but they don’t have to say they’re doing it for global warming.

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Tri...

Water supplies will limit future growth for cities like Dallas, if good water policies cannot be made to assure water to critical functions - Downtown Dallas in the background with the Trinity River in the foreground. Taken from the N Hampton Rd bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayors of several cities announced they will push to keep watering restrictions on, to conserve water, even though their cities’ water supplies got big boosts from massive rainstorms over the past few weeks.

Bruce Tomaso, editor of The Scoop, a blog at The Dallas Morning News, wrote down all the details (comments at that site are worth visiting).

Thanks to last year’s brutal drought, most North Texans have gotten accustomed to watering lawns sparingly.

As lake levels dropped through the dry, hot summer and fall of 2011, emergency conservation measures were enacted throughout the region.

In some cities — Plano, for example — watering was restricted to twice a month. (That restriction was just eased to once a week.)

In others, including Dallas, a less stringent limit of twice a week has been in force.

On Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings , joined by the mayors of Fort Worth, Arlington , and Irving , will recommend that a twice-a-week limit on watering be made permanent. The mayors plan a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the offices of the North Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Drive.

“Although recent rains have improved current water supply availability, a twice weekly watering schedule provides predictable expectations to customers for landscape planning and a way for the region to continue to use water resources wisely,” says a joint statement from the four cities.

Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that says the idea of making the emergency conservation measures permanent was raised a while ago by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who discussed “a coordinated regional approach” with Rawlings, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

“I think water conservation is probably the most important issue we have in the next three decades,” he quotes Rawlings as saying. “We cannot continue to grow without water, and I want to continue to grow.”

In each of the four municipalities, the City Council would have to approve a measure to implement permanent limitations on lawn watering.

On a related note, the Texas agriculture commissioner unveiled a new water conservation coalition plan Monday in Mesquite.

It’s a good move, even if they do it for the wrong reasons.  Texas lives in a world of trouble with regard to water.  Too many people live in big cities with water supply systems planned and built a half-century ago, for fewer people.  Massive aquifers that offered backup to surface water supplies have been mined out.  In a short phrase, Texas doesn’t have enough water even in a good rain year, and needs to conserve and develop a state-wide policy on how to allocate water, and how to protect water supplies needed for farming, for industry, and for residential use. Global warming threatens each of those resources in disparate ways, all of them bad.

Conservation is a lot cheaper than building more dams and more pipelines, and more environmentally friendly.  Nice to see these guys endorse conservation.

Trinity River in flood and Dallas at night, 9-2010 IMGP5052 - photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons License

Texas should not rely on freak floods to mitigate long-term drought; growth of cities like Dallas require better water policy. Photo shows Dallas at night over the Trinity River flooding, September 2010. Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons Copyright

Tip of the old scrub brush to Sara Ann Maxwell.


Dogwood Canyon amble for the blossoms

March 26, 2012

It was billed as a “hike” that might take 2.5 hours, but David Hurt, the grand benefactor of Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, was the guide — at the two hour mark we had just ambled to the blossoming trees in their still-semi-secret location.  Amble, not a hike.

Great day to be outside.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

The voyage is at least half the fun.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

After more than a year of serious drought, some of North Texas experienced high rainfall in the past three months. Spring-fed streams and seeps on Cedar Hill and across the Escarpment flow well for the moment, lending hope to wild bird breeding. On some entangled bank . . .

David Hurt demonstrating plant differences, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 688 - photo by Ed Darrell
Poison ivy along the trail, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 697 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Poison ivy along the trail. Keep away.

David Hurt demonstrates differences in oaks, 03-25-2012 import 694 - photo by Ed Darrell

Is it eastern red oak, or something else? How to tell?

David Hurt demonstrates how yellow-cheeked warblers use Ashe junipers to nest - 03-25-2012 import 708 - photo by Ed Darrell

Hurt showed how to make a nest from loose bark strips from Ashe juniper trees. Golden-cheeked warblers, a threatened species, require this bark for nesting, and it can come only from mature Ashe junipers. The birds need this nesting material close to a good stand of deciduous trees, where they catch their food.

Dogwood blossom at Dogwood Canyon, Cedar Hill, Texas 03-25-2012 import 737 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

The dogwoods in bloom! An early spring, and lots of water, pushed the trees to leaf out before blossoming started -- usually the blossoms come first. The drought last year probably hurts blossoming this year. Blossoms are not yet at their peak.

Dogwood blossoms, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center 03-25-2012 import 744 - phot by Ed Darrell

Exquisite aroma and beauty from the dogwood blossoms - not the carpet of white we saw in a previous year. Still just the shock of finding these little beauties in Dallas County adds to their splendor. Dogwoods do well in East Texas, where it is wetter and the soil is acid. Here on the escarpment it is generally dry, hotter, and the soil is thin and alkaline. That the blossoms show up at all is a stunning oddity, a stroke of fortune emblematic of the unique place that is Dogwood Canyon.

Guided hikes — the only way to get to see the blossoms — are planned for Wednesday and Saturday this week.  Hikes are limited to 20 people, with two planned for Wednesday, and one for Saturday, March 31.  For reservations call Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at (469) 526-1980.

Previously in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


Get your Texas Drought Survival Package from Texas Parks & Wildlife

February 20, 2012

We’ve had serious rain in Dallas, but most of the state still resides well in the thrall of drought.  Plus, the rains in Dallas have been unseasonal, which suggests the drought is not done with Dallas yet, either.

Texas Parks & Wildlife has words of advice:

More information from TPWD:

The drought has taken a toll on everything from wildlife to water bills. To help Texans cope, Texas Parks and Wildlife is offering a Drought Survival Kit http://www.texasthestateofwater.org/


Stimulus spending: Texans remember how the CCC helped save the nation

January 20, 2012

New video history piece from the Texas Parks & Wildlife people:

63

Uploaded by on Jan 17, 2012

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for over 3 million young men during the Great Depression and helped establish the foundation of our nation’s park system. 70 years after the creation of the CCC, Conservation Corps veterans reunite in one of the parks they helped build, sharing stories and rekindling old memories.

A pictorial map showing Texas State Parks with significant work performed by the CCC:

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image - Click on map for original, larger version


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