Life's Better Outside: Winter Edition 2012

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In This Issue:



Habitat Key to Species Survival

2 whooping cranes fishing in marsh

Whooping cranes. Prairie chickens. Bobwhite quail. These three iconic Texas birds illustrate the vital role that habitat conservation plays in the health and survival of wildlife. Whooping cranes and prairie chickens perch on the brink of extinction. Northern bobwhite quail have become a species of concern as their populations have dropped dramatically.

This video trio tells a common story of vulnerable species and steps being taken to help their recovery through habitat protection and restoration.

  • Bobwhite quail survival is a habitat problem on a massive landscape scale.
  • While Attwater's prairie chicken nears extinction, lesser prairie chickens in Texas may be yet saved by the partnership of private land owners in the Panhandle.
  • Whooping cranes could be wiped out by a single hurricane or more slowly by changes in the salinity of their marshy feeding grounds due water diversion and drought.

Some good news: Improving the plight of these birds helps other wildlife species as well.

Whooper help: Citizens can help the whoopers by reporting sightings and by preventing disturbance of cranes when they remain overnight at roosting and feeding locations.  Sightings can be reported to or 512-389-TXWW (8999).  Observers are asked to note whether the cranes have colored leg bands. Volunteers interested in attending training sessions to become “Whooper Watchers” and helping to collect more detailed data should contact TPWD at or 512-389-TXWW (8999).

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Beachcombers’ Best Season

spirula shell coiled white, gray background

Winter can be a beach comber’s best season along the Texas coast. While other beach goers admire the sunset, shell collectors are scoping out what’s beneath their feet. In “Who Owned That Shell?,” a Passport to Texas radio story, Texas Parks and Wildlife's Paul Hammerschmidt talks about the best places to find shells.

When a lucky beachcomber finds an unidentifiable critter, a new online marine species ID guide can help solve the mystery with its info on over 400 Texas marine species. Read more about the guide.

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Make Spring Reservations Early

nighttime, cabin lit from within, moon above

Springtime and Spring Break 2013 will be here sooner than you think. To guarantee your place among the wildflowers in any of 90+ Texas state parks, the best time to make your reservations is n-o-w. It’s easier than ever. Got a special weekend? Sleep only in cabins? Want a destination two hours away? You can search park possibilities online  by date, park name, facility or location. Groovy!


Calling now for reservations (512/389-8900) makes for a shorter wait. Find your destination now, make your reservations by phone, fax or Internet, and spring forward into a great getaway.

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Coastal Marshes: Vital Marine Nurseries at Risk

sillouette, person in marsh lifting sea grass bunches

Texas coastal wetlands serve as a nursery for over 95 percent of the recreational and commercial fish species found in the Gulf of Mexico and have a Texas-sized recreational and economic benefit. Seagrasses are a critical element of this fragile habitat. A seagrass meadow supplies everything that many marine organisms need - the nursery, the roof over their heads and the grocery store all rolled into one. Wetlands also provide food and protection for shore birds, small mammals, and terrestrial invertebrates like crabs. 

Coastal wetland loss in Texas is significant and the many culprits are man-made as well as natural, ranging from sea level rise to boat traffic. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Ecologist Cherie O’Brien specializes in marsh restoration and has been working for years to restore marshes in Galveston Bay. In this video,  you'll meet Cherie, the 2012 winner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Employee Award for Conservation, and some of the volunteers who are helping to bring back lost marshes. 

Recreational boaters, anglers and wildlife watchers all along the Texas coast have a role to play in protecting the coastal marsh. The Coastal Marsh Working Group brings together fishing, guiding, paddling, air-boating, birding communities and conservation groups to find solutions to protect the wetlands resource.

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Santa’s Elves Are Stocking Trout

kid with two-fisted hold on a trout

Trout don’t usually survive in warm Texas waters. But cooler weather and cooler waters bring a special winter treat to deserving Texas anglers. Santa’s elves, working on behalf of the Rainbow Trout Stocking Program, will be delivering rainbow trout to suitable locations across the state from now through March.

You can find the trout stocking schedule, and locations and dates by city or county. (The schedule is subject to change due to water and weather conditions.)

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Game Warden Field Notes: A Feathers and Fins Issue

two wardens, duck hunters, sky, marsh, water with boat

The interesting tales found among the Texas Game Wardens’ case reports often reflect the seasons. This fall’s Game Warden Field Notes highlight dove hunting and freshwater fishing encounters. Two citation magnets: using game fish as bait and keeping whitewings as pets. Read more for some educational entertainment.

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