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.
In Spanish it means “The River of the Arms of God.” Emerging from New Mexico, the Brazos River rambles for 1,280 miles across Texas, empting itself into the Gulf of Mexico. It cuts a wide arc and serves as the informal dividing line between east Texas and the rest of the state. It’s dammed in only three places. The first of these, just north of Waco, forms Possum Kingdom Lake, a basin that spreads like 20,000 acres of liquid metal over 300 miles of endless shoreline. Among the… Read More →
So many extinct creatures . . . yet the lines of succession for genetic descendants are remarkable. Life on prehistoric earth was tough. Most everything was bigger, badder and creepier looking than it is today. As repulsive as modern-day cockroaches are, they pale by comparison next to some of their nocturnal praying-mantis-like predatory ancestors. A number of different animal species survived the dinosaur extinction and some of them, in true cockroach fashion, evolved primordially hideous. Take, for example, the modern-day Opossum. Opossum-like peradectids also lived during the dinosaur… Read More →
Most state parks overwhelm you with warning signs, so they’re easy to ignore; this one isn’t: “BEWARE ALLIGATORS EXIST IN THIS PARK.” As you pick your way along the reed-filled shoreline, this sign grabs your attention—especially if you have a toddler or a dog. Turns out you are in the westernmost stomping grounds of the American Alligator. Local experience says you wouldn’t see a lot of alligators in Choke Canyon State Park but the few you might see could be relatively large. Fact is, one Braxton Bielski, 18… Read More →
Rambling aimlessly down the trail, I notice the night dew still clings to the soil and makes the plants glisten. In the east, the sun breaks like a yolk on the horizon and it seems all of creation is suddenly awake. A happy sort of clamor fills the air. Squirrels chatter and chase each other through the boughs. Birds raise their voices in promise—to fly together, to breed, nourish, sing. Trees are festooned with glossy leaves under long lance rays; each breath holds the fragrance of new flowers…. Read More →
One of the cool things about science is that it allows us to solve mysteries. Much of what we know about nature and how it works is based on science. In earlier days, however, our relationship with nature was based more on folklore and stories passed down by elders. My grandmother, for example, fervently believed crop success in her garden depended on planting during the proper phase of the moon. Thanks to science, we understand the process better today. The character of Texas is largely chronicled in legend… Read More →