Fall 2011 A publication of the Wildlife Division—Getting Texans Involved
It is a critical part of our environment and yet it is often misunderstood, abused, and underappreciated. In this issue of Eye on Nature, we explore the work being done to learn more about rivers, streams, and playa lakes as well as some of the animals that are dependent on these unique ecosystems.
Understanding Creeks and Rivers
By Steve Nelle
We Texans have loved our creeks and rivers for many generations. When the early settlers arrived in the early and mid 1800's, they naturally established near the best and most reliable sources of water. Before that time, Native Americans were closely associated with and dependent on life-giving creeks and rivers for thousands of years. Since these times, Texans have continued to use and enjoy and benefit from the estimated 190,000 miles of creeks and rivers in the state.
Otter Map Project
By Gary Calkins
How many times has the saying "if I had only known then what I know now" been uttered when someone is totally baffled? That phrase has probably been used more times than can be counted. However, with the river otter sighting information that has been generated over the past few years, I would not have uttered that phrase; I don’t think I would have changed a thing.
Canadian River Cooperative Weed Management Area
A Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) in Texas
By Gene T. Miller
The Canadian River Cooperative Weed Management Area for Texas and Oklahoma became officially organized when a management board was seated at a meeting with landowners on
June 2, 2009 in Cheyenne, Oklahoma.
Mad Island WMA Shoreline Protection Project
By Jeff Raasch and Matt Nelson, TPWD
Mad Island WMA is one of the crown jewels in TPWD’s public lands system and is located along the Texas mid coast with over 4 miles of shoreline along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). The coastal marshes and prairies, along with the fresh and intermediate lakes occurring on the WMA provide habitat for over 300 species of birds and important habitat for amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
Population Status of the Brazos Water Snake
By Nathan Rains
The Brazos water snake (Nerodia harteri) is a semi-aquatic snake found only in the upper Brazos River system in north central Texas. It is listed as a threatened species by the state of Texas and is one of only 3 snake species endemic to Texas. Originally described in 1941, it was considered to be conspecific with the Concho Water Snake. They were later delineated a separate species by scientists. The Concho water snake was listed as a threatened species by the USFWS and a result received considerably more research and attention. However, little is known abut the population status of the Brazos water snake. This species is thought to be in decline and is potentially in greater peril than the Concho water snake.
2011 Drought Impacts on Habitat and White-tailed Deer
By Alan Cain
2011 will undoubtedly be the worst drought on record and to top it off the heat has been almost unbearable. Unfortunately, wildlife in Texas are facing tough conditions this summer and there appears to be no end to the drought in the near future. Long term weather forecasts suggest the drought will continue through the upcoming winter. With no relief in our immediate future, it becomes imperative that landowners, land managers, hunters, and all of us to take steps to minimize drought impacts on wildlife. Healthy native habitats are the foundation to support thousands of fish and wildlife species inhabiting the Texas waterways, forests, prairies, and rangelands. Native plant communities composed of trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs, are a key component of habitat required to
sustain our native wildlife populations. These native plants provide the necessary food and cover for everything from painted buntings and Texas horned lizards, to the white-tailed deer. While all components of native plant communities are important the native woody plants, trees and shrubs, are often considered the most reliable during times of drought providing the bulk of the green vegetation. Grasses are often dormant during these stress periods and the rainfall dependent weeds and wildflowers are in short supply.
By Cindy Loeffler
Texas is home to 15 major river basins, encompassing almost 200,000 miles of rivers and streams that provide habitat for more than 250 species of fish. With over 150 species of
native freshwater fishes, Texas ranks among the most biologically diverse states. Unfortunately at least 5 native Texas fishes are now extinct and 3 more are extirpated
throughout the Texas portion of their range. In addition approximately 20% of Texas fishes are threatened with extinction or extirpation from the Texas portion of their range. With
more than 30 state and federally-listed endangered aquatic animals, Texas ranks in the top 5 states for numbers of endangered aquatic species.
1,500-Acre Marsh Restoration Project at J.D. Murphree WMA
A Public-Private Conservation Effort
By Andi Cooper and Greg Green – Ducks Unlimited, Mike Rezsutek - TPWD
Most people would be hard-pressed to find a use for 2 million cubic yards of silt-saturated dredge material. But to wetland managers in the upper coast of Texas, this is a highly
valuable resource in their efforts to fight against continuing loss of coastal wetland habitats. By a process known as beneficial use of dredged material, silts that once were destined for upland disposal sites now play a critical role in wetland conservation and restoration.
What is Beneficial Use of Dredge Material?
Beneficial use of dredged materials is the utilization of dredged sediments as resource materials in productive ways. Several hundred million cubic yards of sediment must be dredged from U.S. ports, harbors and waterways each year to maintain and improve the nation’s navigation systems for commercial, national defense and recreational purposes. Traditional dredging methods discharge sediment into confined containment facilities or into the open waters of oceans, rivers, lakes, wetlands and estuaries. Dredged material containment facilities currently in use
in the United States are nearing or are already full to capacity with material. Identifying new containment sites poses difficulties due to conflicting land uses, potential environmental impacts and the high value of near-water real estate.
On The Back Porch – The Playa Lakes
By Ruben Cantu
OK first things first…these playa lakes are not really lakes at least nothing compared to the magnitude of the great lakes or really any lake that most of us envision, you can’t even fish in them. These “lakes” are typically small, intermittent wet depressions. The bottom end of the southern Great Plains of the United States was once home to millions of bison, pronghorn antelope and miles of prairie dog towns and it is in this part of the Texas, the Texas Panhandle where you will find most of our state’s playa lakes.
Did You Know?
- Texas has an estimated 190,000 miles of creeks and rivers?
- A riparian area is the narrow band of land directly adjacent to rivers and streams?
- The river otter is native to Texas where sufficient water is present?
- Mad Island provides habitat for 300 species of bird?
- The Brazos water snake is one of only 3 snake species endemic to Texas?
- The Brazos water snake is dependant on riffles?
- Texas is home to 15 major river basins that provide habitat for more than 250 species of fish?
- Aproximately 20% of Texas native fish species are threatened with extirpation from their Texas range or extinction?
- Texas ranks in the top five states for number of threatened or endangered aquatic animals?
Introduction to Texas
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