Welcome to the Lost Pines Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist Program! You can learn more about our chapter and the Master Naturalist volunteer program here. Master Naturalist volunteers help manage our local natural resources. If you are interested in joining us, or have questions about our activities, please contact us.
The Lost Pines chapter serves primarily Bastrop and Caldwell counties of Central Texas (click here to find a statewide list of chapters). These counties are predominantly in the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie Ecoregions. In addition, our area includes the unique “island forest” of the Lost Pines, the westernmost extent of the loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), separated by about 100 miles from the pine forests of East Texas. Species in the Lost Pines are particularly adapted to the drier conditions here, and provide unique habitat for varied flora and fauna that can be seen in Bastrop and Buescher state parks and other nearby natural areas. You can learn more about what makes these parks so special and see pictures of them by visiting our “State Parks & Natural Areas” page; you can also find many links to information about the native plants, animals and ecology of the Lost Pines region on our resources page.
The sun is only now beginning to rise. The moss-veiled cypress trees hold the gauzy mist—the fog lay rich and steamy over the flaccid lake. Avian shrieks and squawks echo deep into the swamp. The hem of the sky glows rooster red. Vision is limited in this early morning brume; it’s difficult to be sure of anything. Is that a brontosaurus wading in the distance? No, don’t be silly! But this is a freshwater swamp all right; alligators lurk, mosquitoes feed and birds on stilts fish the shallows… Read More →
Camp Sunflower near Elgin, Texas. It’s an overcast day, damp and humid—the sky is sullen and dripping. Sarah Jones is expecting visitors on her 10.5 acres west of Elgin. She has invited a group of Texas Master Naturalists to her homestead to do a biological survey. Sarah explains, “My friend recommended that I contact the Texas Master Naturalists months ago, but it wasn’t until a Sip-N-Stroll in downtown Elgin last year that I came across a booth manned by the Lost Pines Master Naturalists, so I made… Read More →
Holes in the ground are charmed. Like finding a cave in the sea, they are a deeper darkness. They pull our imagination. They entice us with mystery, the unimaginable and the unknown. So it was for one teenager in the late 1800’s while riding his horse through the Chihuahaun Desert of the New Mexico Territory. Young Jim White stopped to watch as a plume of bats boiled out of the ground obscuring the flaming sunset. No young man can leave a hole like that unexplored! Indeed the… Read More →
In the 1690’s The King’s Highway (AKA El Camino Real) connected diverse cultures—it still does! State Highway 21 roughly traces the old El Camino Real that ran between Guerreo, Mexico and Natchitoches (pronounced “knack-a-dish”), Louisiana. If you pick up SH 21 East of Bastrop today and just follow your nose for 3 hours, it will take you back to the earliest days of Texas. En route, Crockett is the largest nearby city but just 12 miles outside Alto, Texas you’ll miss the park if you’re not careful. Unceremoniously… Read More →
One of my cardinal rules is NEVER take a group of master naturalists on an interpretative hike. With their incessant field guides, new-fangled cameras and fancy binoculars, it’s worse than herding cats! What is it about nature that commands this endless curiosity? Why are we so engrossed in the wonders of the natural world? What cellular need tugs at us to understand the workings of nature? Why do we join organizations like Texas Master Naturalists? Alas, we all share a common calling . . . but it sounds… Read More →