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.
Miles and miles of endless horizon on the Texas panhandle, the prairie spreads away flat and featureless to nowhere. Then, suddenly, the landscape transforms into a menagerie of cliffs and monoliths and distant vistas, melted into warm earth tones under the steady smash of the sun. As they pick their way down the scree, leather saddles creak, stones and pebbles rain down ahead of them and thick dust rises up. Big, haunchy stallions with eyes like cue balls lash their tails back and forth during the nervous descent…. Read More →
Lurking underground . . . in an exceptionally crafted lair. The ingenious trap door is so perfectly camouflaged as to be indistinguishable from surrounding turf. An inch within the cavern, as daylight sparkles through the cracks, his eyes appear lanterns burning with unholy oil. Careful not to make a single sound, barely breathing, waiting. Further back in the tunnel are corpses wrapped and compressed, as though they’ve been put though a micro bailing machine—an extended mausoleum where Dracula’s silky evil serves as coffins for an assortment of insects…. Read More →
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 →