Friday

Friday's Future Conservationists (Part Three)

Welcome back to our new blog feature: Friday’s Future Conservationists. We’ll share inspiring work from the students who one day will be our biologists, park rangers, nature photographers, game wardens and stewards of all wild things and places.

Thanks to Amanda Asher and the teachers/students of Cibolo Creek Elementary School for helping us get started. 

 

Did you know that living organisms in any environment depend on each other and their environment to meet their basic needs?  

 

Second grade students at Cibolo Creek Elementary School recently completed their science unit — “Investigating Organisms and Environments” — by creating an article for Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. This week we feature Mrs. Ferry’s class.

 

The students each drew an illustration for a specific environment and the organisms that live within it. They wrote articles describing how the organisms and environment depend on each other to meet their needs. To complete the project, students mapped out the food chain from their environment, displaying the transfer of energy from one organism to another for survival.  

 

Check back later for more amazing “articles” from our future conservationists.
















Thursday

TPWD Urges Texans to Support Landmark Wildlife Bill

 Bipartisan legislation will help fish and wildlife while boosting the economy 

Meadowlark

For decades, Texas biologists have toiled over solutions for species teetering on the brink, with some success. 

  • White-tailed deer, nearly wiped out by unregulated hunting in the 1900s, are now plentiful. 
  • Down to seven nesting pairs of bald eagles in Texas in the 1970s due to DDT — now there are 200-plus pairs here. 
  • Fewer than 100 brown pelicans existed in the 1970s, and now they’re off the endangered species list. 
  • American alligators, with their valuable skin, were upgraded from endangered (1967) to threatened in 20 years. 
  • Aplomado falcons, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, eastern wild turkeys, peregrine falcons and so many other Texas animals have come back from near extinction, thanks to the efforts of conservationists.

But what if we could help more species, and help them earlier, before their situation becomes dire? 

 

The answer has come in the form of proposed bipartisan national legislation — the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, or RAWA.

 

With broad bipartisan support, RAWA is poised for upcoming votes in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking Texans to voice their support for this ground-breaking conservation legislation that would bring nearly $1.4 billion in new funding nationally, with $50 million earmarked for Texas fish and wildlife. The money would come from existing revenues, so there would be no new taxes.

 

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents one of the most promising and potentially transformative pieces of legislation that Congress has considered in decades to help benefit conservation,” says TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. “RAWA is at a pivotal place in Congress right now — that’s where we need your help. I hope that you’ll join me and the Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife with our “Crossing the Finish Line” campaign as we encourage members of congress to help support this critically impactful and needed piece of conservation legislation.”

What would these new funds mean for Texas wildlife and those who love our iconic species? The agency plans to apply funds to implement the Texas Conservation Action Plan, a statewide “road map” for research, restoration, management and recovery projects addressing Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and important habitats, along with much-needed fish, wildlife and nature education programs. 

 

The funding is needed more than ever, as one-third of all fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction. Experts have identified 12,000 species of concern nationwide, including more than 1,200 in Texas. RAWA funds will help restore fish and wildlife habitat such as grasslands, prairies, forests, rivers, bays, and estuaries. 


Kemp's Ridley sea turtle


RAWA helps people as well as wildlife. Texas’ growing multimillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry depends on protecting these species and their habitats, offering more for Texans who now seek to be outdoors more than ever. Spending time in nature provides many physical and mental health benefits, and RAWA’s transformative funding would invest in future generations through increased nature education and wildlife-associated recreation. 

 

If passed, $12 million would be available each year to invest in nature education, with an additional $6 million a year to invest in providing more and better outdoor recreation opportunities such as hiking, paddling, bird watching and nature photography. 

 

New jobs will come with new projects. RAWA could spark thousands of new public/private “shovel-ready” jobs for wildlife management, tree planting, river restoration and wildlife reintroductions.

 

Recovering America's Wildlife Act is the kind of breakthrough that comes once in a generation. 

 

Here’s how to contact your elected officials to tell them you support it:

Senator Ted Cruz: (202) 224-5922 

Senator John Cornyn: (202) 224-2934 

U.S. Representative: Use https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

 

More resources: www.txwildlifealliance.org/take-action

 

Friday

Friday's Future Conservationists (Part Two)

Welcome to our weekly blog feature: Friday’s Future Conservationists. Every Friday, we’ll share inspiring work from the students who one day will be our biologists, park rangers, nature photographers, game wardens and stewards of all wild things and places.

Thanks to Amanda Asher and the teachers/students of Cibolo Creek Elementary School for helping us get started. 

 

Did you know that living organisms in any environment depend on each other and their environment to meet their basic needs?  

 

Second grade students at Cibolo Creek Elementary School recently completed their science unit — “Investigating Organisms and Environments” — by creating an article for Texas Parks & Wildlifemagazine. 

 

The students each drew an illustration for a specific environment and the organisms that live within it. They wrote articles describing how the organisms and environment depend on each other to meet their needs. To complete the project, students mapped out the food chain from their environment, displaying the transfer of energy from one organism to another for survival.  

 

Check back next Friday for more amazing “articles” from our future conservationists.












If you want more content like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Whether in print or through our mobile app, choose the version that works best for you.

Saturday

Earth Day Bay Day Festival April 9


Join the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation to celebrate the 23rd annual Earth Day Bay Day, Saturday, April 9, at Heritage Park in Corpus Christi. The Coastal Bend Bays Foundation hosts this free festival each year to raise awareness of the need for stewardship of the area’s natural resources — this year, it’s back in person. 

The popular event provides education and outreach in a fun, family environment that’s FREE for all Coastal Bend residents and others visiting Texas’ “Sparkling City by the Sea.” Since 1999, the CBBF has hosted this local event to help promote and encourage citizens to learn about our bays and estuaries, wetlands, native plants and animals, recycling, sustainability, conservation and other environmental issues through interactive activities and local exhibitors.


 

Earth Day Bay Day has all sorts of things to do and see, such as educational activities and giveaways for all ages, food, animal exhibits and more. Follow the latest updates on Facebook and on the website. Thanks to event sponsors, the 2023 Earth Day Bay Day celebration will feature the following fun activities.

 

  • Up-close animal encounters
  • Birds of Prey raptor show
  • The Texas Zoo
  • Catch-and-release fish tank
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Coastal Expo and Operation Game Thief trailer
  • Native plant giveaway by Valero
  • Rock-climbing wall
  • Giveaways galore

 

If you want more content like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Whether in print or through our mobile app, choose the version that works best for you.

 

 

Friday

Friday's Future Conservationists (Part One)

Welcome to our new weekly blog feature: Friday’s Future Conservationists. Every Friday, we’ll share inspiring work from the students who one day will be our biologists, park rangers, nature photographers, game wardens and stewards of all wild things and places.

 

Thanks to Amanda Asher and the teachers/students of Cibolo Creek Elementary School for helping us get started. 

 

Did you know that living organisms in any environment depend on each other and their environment to meet their basic needs?  

 

Second grade students at Cibolo Creek Elementary School recently completed their science unit — “Investigating Organisms and Environments” — by creating an article for Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. 

 

The students each drew an illustration for a specific environment and the organisms that live within it. They wrote articles describing how the organisms and environment depend on each other to meet their needs. To complete the project, students mapped out the food chain from their environment, displaying the transfer of energy from one organism to another for survival.  

 

Check back next Friday for more amazing “articles” from our future conservationists.

 

 












If you want more content like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Whether in print or through our mobile app, choose the version that works best for you.






Tuesday

Meet the Women Who Protect Texas Wildlife

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Division is home to many talented, dedicated and enthusiastic female professionals. In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a small sample of the wonderful women who work to preserve and protect Texas wildlife. 

From top left in the photo collage, row by row:

 

Shannon Grubbs is a district wildlife biologist covering Victoria, Calhoun and Refugio counties. She enjoys helping landowners manage their land for wildlife. In this photo, she is banding a mourning dove.

 

Heidi Bailey is a district biologist for Kaufman, Van Zandt, Henderson and Anderson counties in East Texas. She provides technical assistance and public outreach programs to the general public, private landowners/land managers and recreational enthusiasts. Her favorite part of the job is getting her hands dirty when demonstrating on-the-ground wildlife and habitat management. Her former supervisor describes her as “one of the most highly qualified burn practitioners we have in this region, if not the state.”

 

Arlene Kalmbach (pictured with the all-female project team of Gaby Tamez, Krysta Demere and Megan Bean) is coordinator for the Landowner Incentive program and Pastures for Upland Birds program. 

 

Jessica Schmerler is a habitat assessment biologist for Central and West Texas. She reviews environmental documents for development (including energy) projects and provides recommendations to minimize adverse impacts to wildlife resources. In this photo, she’s visiting a wind farm in far West Texas, where several smaller wind turbines were proposed to be replaced with larger ones. 

 

Gaby Tamez is a district biologist for Pecos County in far West Texas. She provides technical assistance and public outreach programs to the general public, private landowners/land managers and recreational enthusiasts. In this photo, she is teaching youth volunteers how to band a dove.

 

Caroline Ellison is as a wildlife biologist and assistant area manager on the Matador Wildlife Management area in Paducah. She facilitates public hunts and conducts wildlife research and habitat management on the WMA. In this photo, she is banding a vermillion flycatcher.

 

Courtney McInnerney is a district biologist for Tyler, Hardin and Liberty counties in East Texas. She loves to educate the public (especially youth) on nature and native Texas wildlife. She finds ways for them to get hands-on experience with alligators, snakes, pelts, skulls, plants and other fascinating things. This is a picture of her fixing a water leak. 

 

Kelly Simon is an urban wildlife biologist in Central Texas. In addition to being a published author, Kelly works to retain natural resource conservation as a priority in municipalities and communities. She is committed to improving the diversity of our profession, too: she managed an urban coyote research contract/project with Huston-Tillotson University that facilitates field research experiences to study how coyotes and their prey use habitat within the urban environment.

 

Olivia Kost is a district biologist for Eastland, Brown and Mills counties in North Central Texas. She provides technical assistance and public outreach programs to the general public, private landowners/land managers and recreational enthusiasts. In this photo, she is banding a white-winged dove.

 

Andrea Webb is a district biologist for Panola, Shelby and San Augustine counties in East Texas. She provides technical assistance and public outreach programs to the general public, private landowners/land managers and recreational enthusiasts. In this photo, she is banding woodcock.

 

Anna Strong, one of two state botanists, administers federal pass-through and state funding for rare plants, works in conjunction with USFWS to review Species Status Assessments for federally listed (and petitioned) plants and reviews the state conservation status ranks of Species of Greatest Conservation Need plants. Additionally, Anna conducts in situ status surveys of SGCN plants and then creates and catalogs field reports and maps populations in the Texas Natural Diversity Database.


 

If you want more content like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Whether in print or through our mobile app, choose the version that works best for you.

 

Black History Month: Preserving the Legacy of Family-owned Ranches

  • East central Texas has the highest number of Black farmers and ranchers in the U.S.
  • A former Wall Street executive is on a mission to keep ranches in the family

Freestone County, southeast of Dallas, boasts gently rolling prairies, fertile soil and more Black farmers and ranchers than any other county in the United States.

But the area’s ranchers face a host of challenges: barriers to capital and markets, land that’s been subdivided through generations, and ways of ranching that are no longer sustainable with rising land prices.



Kimberly Ratcliff hopes to preserve their legacy, helping families hold on to their ranches through land stewardship and business partnerships. She heads 100 Ranchers, a non-profit organization that unites local ranchers to share best practices.

“We are all so independent here,” said Kimberly, whose family owns Caney Creek Ranch. “But by bringing the community together, you have more strength in numbers as well as a group of people who are working toward a common goal.”

Thanks to her job on Wall Street, Kimberly understood the market side of the business. She spent seven years at Bloomberg, a company that provides crucial market data on commodities such as cattle.

But when her family bought a ranch in Texas, she discovered a disconnect between the people who worked the cattle and those who traded them.

“Working on both ends literally drove me crazy,” she said. “I decided I wanted to work on the agriculture end and not the platform that people were trading our products on.”

She swapped her high heels for cowboy boots and headed home to the ranch.

Her first stop was Texas Christian University to study Ranch Management. She then began partnering on ranch improvement projects with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an organization dedicated to putting “conservation on the ground.”

Kimberly discovered that what’s good for water and wildlife is also good for cattle. For example, integrating native trees with pastures provides shade for cattle, creates wildlife habitat and helps protect the watershed.

She’s also participating in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Managed Lands Deer Program to foster and support sound management and stewardship of native wildlife and wildlife habitats on private lands in Texas. 

“We're so consumed with what we can immediately make money on that we can forget about all the other things that support us. But if you have healthy grasses, if you have wildlife on your ranch, that’s an indicator that your ecosystem is healthy as a whole.” 

Kimberly is sharing this message with her fellow ranchers. She’s also finding ways to break through barriers to doing business, securing grant money for projects to connect ranchers with their end customers. Local ranchers recently met with representatives from McDonalds, Pizza Hut and other corporations to discuss how they could forge pathways to profitability. 

“This is the opportunity to tell our story,” Kimberly said. “What drives me is building our legacy. I want to keep generations ranching.”



If you want more content like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Whether in print or through our mobile app, choose the version that works best for you.