Master Naturalist vs. Nature – A Book Review

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By Lisa Runyon While snuggled in our cabin on New Year’s Day, our son asked what books my husband and I read last year. It took some time to recall all the titles, but I finally had my reading log. Then I reflected on the question I asked my students as they looked at their logs, “What do you notice?” Hmmm, I could beef up the quality of my fiction choices, no doubt. Then I studied my favorite non-fiction choices: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey… Read More →

Hiking the Trail Between the Lakes

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  by Ron Bamberg   I recently completed a backpacking trip on The Trail Between the Lakes, a 28-mile track that connects Lakes Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend in deep east Texas. Toledo Bend straddles the Texas-Louisiana line and is formed on the Sabine River. Sam Rayburn, to the west, is formed by the Angelina River.   The trail lies entirely within the Sabine National Forest. A sign at the Sam Rayburn trailhead, where I ended the hike, identifies three distinct ecosystems through which the trail passes: Pine… Read More →

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge – After The Flood

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 by Laurie Sheppard May, 2017 marks two years since heavy rains caused damaging flooding at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and other parts of north Texas. By May 10, 2015, many roads on the refuge were impassable and public access was curtailed. Ultimately, 9,000 of the refuge’s 11,320 acres were under water. It was August before the main roads were fully exposed and repairs could begin. At its worst, parts of the refuge were under as much as 24 feet of water, displacing wildlife and causing permanent changes to… Read More →

Don’t Encourage Mosquitos!

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Mosquitos carry and spread diseases such as Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya They lay their eggs on surfaces of containers that fill with water and on standing water itself. Female mosquitoes rest on walls and in vegetation. Trim bushes, trees and grass. Dump standing water Keep screens on doors and windows intact to keep mosquitos out. They can breed in tree rot holes, so fill them with sand or cement. A tablespoon of mineral oil can kill mosquitoes in small containers. Pesticides with Bacillus thurengensis isrealensis (Bti) or… Read More →

Bird Brains – A Book Review

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 by Lisa Runyon This is not a book review of David Welky’s A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In search of the Last Arctic Frontier. I carried that beast to my hotel room every night on my spring break trip through south Texas’ World Birding Centers, fully intending to read and write a review for this newsletter. Instead, I lost my heart to an unexpected treasure I found in a gift shop in Harlingen’s Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center. The tall, stark white spine with the title Bird Brains… Read More →

The Mammoths of Texas

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by Patti Tuck On July 10, 2015, President Obama signed an Executive Order designating the Waco Mammoth National Monument! A new national park in Texas and it is just down the road! The Waco Mammoth site “possesses exceptional value or quality in illustrating a natural theme for scientific study and retains a high degree of integrity as a true an accurate unspoiled example of the resource.”   So what is a mammoth and what makes it a resource for study? Woolly mammoths are extinct relatives of today’s elephants. The… Read More →

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 →