Visitors from out of state often ask me why Texas can be so large and diverse and have so few national parks? “Some 94% of Texas’ 172 million acres is privately owned. Because Texas was an independent nation before joining the Union, it retained control of its land. The federal government never controlled large swaths, as in other Western states.” (Dallas Morning News 4/26/2023)
Many of our field trips will occur on public lands which are under the direction of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The mission of TPWD is, “To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/)
Kerr Wildlife Management Area
“The WMA’s primary mission is to function as a wildlife management, research and demonstration site for trained personnel to conduct wildlife related studies and provide resultant information to resource managers, landowners and other interested groups or individuals to acquaint them with proven practices in wildlife habitat management.” (https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=12)
Honey Creek and Lost Maples State Natural Areas
SNA’s (State Natural Areas) are not as developed, so you won’t have all the facilities and activities you might find at a state park. The focus is on the management of the natural flora, fauna, and terrain. (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples)
Historical Sites and visitor centers are also supervised by TPWD. Often these volunteer efforts are coordinated by a “Friends Of” group. Our visit to Honey Creek SNA will be interpreted by the Friends of Honey Creek.Several members of this year’s class have worked with The Friends of Lost Maples to install and maintain a pollinator garden. As you seek out volunteer opportunities, please consider working with these entities.
In July 2002, floodwaters filled the Canyon Lake Basin and breached the spillway for six weeks. The event scoured a mile long gash through soil and limestone revealing a geologic timeline spanning 111 million years. Such a rapid birth of a canyon was unknown to science. Normally erosion occurs millimeters at a time over millennia. This event sent scholars back to the drawing board: catastrophic flooding events can drive dramatic geologic change.
On this Fall’s class field trip Saturday, September 9, trainees will hike this wonder with interpretation from members of the Friends of Canyon Lake Gorge. Our Geology speaker, Dr. Keirins, is scheduled to join us as well.
Field trips are an essential part of Master Naturalist training. This year’s fall class is scheduled to visit two outstanding nature centers, a wildlife management area, a demonstration site for permaculture, two incredible natural areas, an amazing gorge carved by a flood event, and a private nature preserve.
The focus here will be on Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve. Traditionally, classes have experienced an introductory tour aboard the Bluebonnet trailer with stops at Madrone Lake, a manmade bat cave, and a hilltop site with dinosaur footprints. This year will start out that way, but will feature an optional extended stay. The cost of this optional “deeper dive” will be a donation in an amount determined by the participant.
Members of this year’s class can opt to spend the night in a climate controlled dormitory style bunkhouse. Overnighters will have the chance to hike, view a bat emergence, and earn three hours of Advanced Training. Hill Country chapter’s own Lisa Flanagan will give an evening presentation on Dark Skies. On Sunday, ranch manager Steven Fulton will discuss Cedar Myths and Facts. Later that day, participants will learn to identify native trees using a dichotomous key. Once trainees have opted in or out for the extended stay, around 40 spots will be made available for interested HCTMN members.
The New Class Committee has been hard at work preparing a fertile field for the upcoming crop of new trainees. We have selected only the finest purveyors of naturalist knowledge to produce a bountiful harvest of freshly grown volunteers. Planting day is scheduled for August 19th and the harvest celebration will occur November 11th.
We are currently searching for “Zoom Guides” to assist with breakout rooms during Wednesday evenings 5:30-9:pm. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The New Class Committee is excited to announce that applications for the Fall 2023 class are now available online at https://txmn.org/hillcountry/become-a-member-of-the-class-of-2023/ Also, a draft of the class schedule is available.
The format of the class differs from years past. The content remains the same, as does the textbook. A host of distinguished regional and statewide experts are scheduled to present. Switching to this new format incorporates Wednesday evenings (5:45-9pm) via Zoom with Saturday field trips. There will also be class presentations at most of the field trip sites. More details will appear over the next few months in this publication.
Hats off to a hard-working and enthusiastic New Class Committee whose volunteer hours are creating a truly meaningful and memorable induction to the Texas Master Naturalist program. *****************************************************************************
Bamberger highlights and info Presenter bios
Presenter bios Mentors
Zoom format Presenter bios
Journals Volunteer Fair
Advanced Training Welcome