McKinney Erwin Park Prairie Restoration

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by Gwen A. Baumann High in a blackland prairie that twists like a tornado from the Red River to the Hill Country sits a little anomaly. It’s the soil found at Erwin Park in north Collin County:  Austin silty clay, according to Dave Powell, and that’s a bit of a mystery. Powell, state program representative for the BPTMN chapter, is also ramrod of the fledgling prairie restoration project at the county park that lies about four miles west of US 75 and equidistance north of US 380. “This… Read More →

Heritage Farmstead in Plano, Then and Now

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By Greg Hayden Under a tall, blue sky, I sit under a stately, old, oak tree amidst the historical oasis known as the Heritage Farmstead. Above me, the Titmouse’s high-pitched call, “peter, peter, peter” is joined by the Pileated Woodpecker’s syncopated drum, and then across the way by the Blue jay’s “scree.” The early September heat, like my fellow Master Naturalists from the Blackland Prairie Chapter, has not yet arrived. Soon this peaceful 4.5-acre historical remnant of the original 395 acre Farmstead will become an island in a… Read More →

Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project at Connemara

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by Jodi Hodak It’s been years since bobwhite quail have been spotted or heard through their distinct “bob-white” call at Connemara Meadow in Allen, TX. But that’s all about to change thanks to a group of determined BPTMNs being led by Bob Mione, a BPTMN and Connemara’s Meadow Manager. In September, the Meadow Committee approved the concept of using bobwhite quail “call back” pens as the next step in attempting to restore bobwhite quail to the Connemara Meadow and Montgomery Farms. If all goes according to plan, BPTMNs… Read More →

Wolves and Unintended Consequences

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By Ernie Stokely In spite of protests from neighboring ranchers, the grey wolf was reintroduced into Yellowstone Park in 1995. Elk and deer over-population and starvation had become a problem in the Park. Naturalists thought the presence of their natural predator might solve the herd starvation problems and bring the Park ecosystem into a more natural balance. The cascade of events from the reintroduction of wolves into the Park has far exceeded even the wildest conjectures of Yellowstone ecologists. First noticed were the regrowth of willows around the… Read More →

Hiking in North Texas

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by Jerri Lipple When most naturalists think of nature preserves and conservation, they think about the native habitats and animals they are saving. Wild plants and animals, however, are not the only ones who benefit. Spending time in nature has very real, measurable effects on human physiology. Fifteen minutes is all it takes. According to a Japanese study conducted by Yoshifumi Miyazaki at Chiba University, physiological changes were seen after a walk in nature as short as fifteen minutes. In the study, eighty-four subjects walked through the woods… Read More →

Wildlife Rescue in DFW

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 by Gwen A. Baumann Many a parent has lived the challenge of a road trip with a teenager. The promise of the Texas coast isn’t always enough to keep him strapped into the back of a Volkswagen bug when he’d rather be hanging out with his peers. It can be even trickier when the teen isn’t your own, though, or when the teen isn’t human. Just ask Kathy Milacek. Milacek, a charter member of North Texas Master Naturalists in Dallas, took that trip a few years back with… Read More →

Turquoise Spans Centuries and Cultures

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by Patti Tuck Last revised in 2014, tanzanite, zircon and turquoise are listed to illustrate the winter blues of December’s birthstones.  Of these three, turquoise has been known for more than 10,000 years and occupies a space in civilization that no other stone has ever occupied.   Turquoise has been celebrated by the peoples of the Orient, the American Indians, and civilizations of Africa, most notably the Egyptians.  It is one of the few minerals that gives its name to anything that resembles its striking color – white/powdery blue… Read More →

Avians and Acorns

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Ah, fall. What a lovely time of year! The leaves lose their chlorophyll (which means they turn pretty autumn colors), the air becomes brisk, and animals start storing foods in various places. You’re probably questioning my title for this snippet of juicy animal/plant facts. Why on Earth would anyone put these two things together? Well, the answer is quite simple. Okay wait, it’s actually not that simple. Prepare yourself for learning! During all times of the year, birds eat food. Pretty obvious, huh. Some birds, like the Eastern… Read More →

Message from the President

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Message from the President, Deborah Canterbury As the great Minnie Pearl said, “I’m just so glad to be here!” What a wonderful privilege it is to be the president during the 10th anniversary year of BPTMN! I am just one rung above rookie on the experience ladder and I will need input, advice and “atta-girls” from those who have been enjoying membership for years as well as those who are just now beginning this wonderful journey of being a master naturalist Some of the chapter meetings this year… Read More →

The Texas Bluebonnet

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by Gary Howerton Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis or Texas lupine) The blue bonnet flower figures in many Native American tales and Spanish missions planted these flowers around their missions leading to the impression that the blue bonnet came from Europe. We are familiar with this plant, the state flower that was adopted in 1901. The selection was not a straightforward process since there are several varieties of blue bonnet. And some state senators favored the cotton boil. The blue bonnet begins as a small rock-like seed that is… Read More →