Wildfires, Drought and More - The Latest News from TPWD

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Life's Better Outside E-Newsletter

In This Issue: Wildfires Rage across Texas, Live in Balance: Become Water Conscious, Challenging Times Ahead, Outdoor Activity of the Month Fall Line-Up, TV Tips Help Families Get the Kids Outdoors, Make a Date with Some Birds

Wildfires Rage across Texas

Bastrop State Park consumed by fire  
The Texas wildfire news continues to be horrific and heartbreaking. Bastrop State Park, known for its famous Lost Pines habitat, historic CCC structures and the endangered Houston toad, is the latest state park to be struck by wildfire. Just 100 acres of the park’s 6,000-acreage have survived.  Read the current assessment in this week’s news release. Nearby Buescher State Park is also closed during the wildfire emergency but remains unharmed as we go to press.

This year, some of Texas’ biggest, hottest wildfires in memory have consumed over 3.6 million acres so far, causing devastating hardship and loss for humans and habitat. View this video report on the fire at Bastrop State Park, with footage taken during the first few days of the developing disaster.

Recovery will take a long time for people and habitat. Wild lands recovery depends on a lot of things, most importantly rain. This Fire on the Prairie video is a hopeful reminder that the land can recover in amazing ways. 

Visiting a park that has burned earlier this year offers a chance to observe wildfire recovery first hand, such as Possum Kingdom State Park where only 200 of the park’s 1500 lakeside acres were saved from wildfire. Over the next months, you can watch nature’s remarkable response begin to show.

Live in Balance: Become Water Conscious

Living in Balance Video  
Prolonged heat and drought are touching everything that lives and moves in the Texas landscape. They remind us that human lives and wildlife are closely connected. This video, Living in Balance, describes the connections between people, water and the environment, and how our water conservation actions at home can help wildlife in the field.

The impacts of drought on fish and wildlife could be apparent for years to come, according to Cindy Loeffler, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s top water resource expert quoted in this recent news release. Tree ring data confirms that Texas has weathered ’mega-droughts’ worse than the drought of the 1950s, and some weather experts are wondering if this drought could be the ‘new normal. Keep up with current assessment through the Drought News Roundup, a series of news releases this drought’s impact on wildlife and recreation.

Challenging Times Ahead

Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park  
As tough budget times are felt across the state, the 2012 Texas Parks and Wildlife budget reflects a 21.5 % cut in funding over the next two years.
"These are challenging times for all state agencies, but if those who love wildlife and parks feel moved to help, there is an easy way to do so,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. Read the detailed news release.
About a quarter of the agency budget goes to the State Parks Division, where 23 of the 93 Texas state park sites will see some type of reduction in staff, operations or both. To avoid additional cuts in state park staff, a legislative rider allows the agency to generate revenue from park fees and other sources to avoid additional cuts to state park staff.
Beginning January 1, 2012, any customer renewing a motor vehicle registration has the option to donate $5 or more for state parks. Drivers can donate when registering by mail, at their county tax office or online in counties which offer online payment.

Visit www.texasstateparks.org/help to find out more about this and other ways to help keep our state parks open and maintained for you and future generation. 
  Donate $5 When You Renew Your Vehicle Registration

Outdoor Activity of the Month Fall Line-Up

Nature Photography  
There is no better time to get outdoors in Texas than during the fall. Plan ahead to get your family out into nature with these three months of fun outdoor activities:

Focus on nature by trying nature photography! Enter the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine photo contest and your favorite picture could be featured in an upcoming issue. For inspiration, check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife selection of photographs on our Flickr page.

October: Hit the trails … bike trails that is! State parks offer biking trails to please everyone — from beginners to “epic” cyclists. Whether you want a flat trail through the Piney Woods or an uphill workout, biking with your family can be exciting without being complicated.  Get a bike's-eye view of some of the trails available at Government Canyon State Natural Area in San Antonio in this video. Get rolling to connect with nature and your kids!

Build a Texas wildscape and attract birds, butterflies and more to your backyard. Wildscaping is a hands-on way to contribute to wildlife conservation. Try building a wildscape at your school with this how-to guide.

TV Tips Help Families Get the Kids Outdoors

Television stations in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio have partnered with TPWD to air, at no cost to the state, video vignettes featuring these outdoor activities of the month. Each station’s companion web page will suggest nearby places to experience these activities. The activities in the story above are just some of family activities to be featured. See an example here from KTRK-TV Houston.

Make a Date with Some Birds

Birding at South Llano State Park  
From hummers to hawks and beyond! There’s no place like Texas to see birds. The annual roundup of fall birding-friendly activities and opportunities is yours to enjoy in the Fall and Winter Birding Calendar in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

In addition, Texas state parks host frequent birding activities. Check the regularly updated events calendar to find additional birding activities such as bird walks, hawk watches, owl prowls and breakfast with the birds. Pack your binoculars and a picnic and get on out there!

Subscribe Now!

Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine  
Since 1942, Texas Parks & Wildlife has been the official outdoor magazine of Texas. Each issue of this award-winning magazine is packed with outstanding photos and articles about every facet of outdoor recreation. Subscribe now for just $12 and receive 2 free digital guides (Spring Fishing and Fall Hunting).