Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monarch Tagging!

Monarch butterfly photo, courtesy of Jeff Kramer, Wikimedia Commons

The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists are tagging monarchs in Lake Wichita Park tonight, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7:00 PM. Members will meet at the Chat Trail entrance. Although this is a chapter event, the members will be happy to show and tell the tagging process and let children assist. So look for people with butterfly nets and learn more about these long-distance travelers.

What's the Big Deal About Invasives?

Mimosa at left is an invasive. In this area usually in yards or along waterways. Very invasive in the wetter climate to the east. This photo was taken along the Chat Trail in Lake Wichita Park.
This summer my husband has been working diligently to remove a number of shrubs and vines around our house. In his mind he has been working to take out some unsightly plants I wanted to get rid of to make way for something that looks nicer. My real motive was to get rid of non-native invasive plant species to make way for native species more hospitable for native birds and butterflies. An added plus is that the area will look nicer.
We plan to plant some new plants now that fall is here. Fall is the perfect time to plant shrubs and we'll be heading to Wichita Valley Nursery as soon as he finishes getting rid of the English ivy. I haven't told him yet that there is at least one tree that has to go as well.
Why the big deal about invasive plants? First of all they can drive out native plants (think kudzu in the east.) Secondly, invasives support far fewer native insects, birds and other wildlife than our native species do. If you get a chance, read Douglas W. Tallamy's Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. The book is easy to read, has lots of pictures and plenty of ideas for good plants to put into your home landscape to encourage butterflies, pollinators and birds to visit and stay in your yard.
If you want to know more about invasives in Texas, see Texas Invasives.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inspiring Video About Food

I shared this on Facebook today, but if you're not a "friend" of mine there, you still need to see this. What a great short presentation by an 11-year-old about our food supply.

Monday, September 27, 2010

TCEQ Environmental Excellence Award Nominations

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has announced it is accepting nominations for state Environmental Excellence Award. These awards recognize individuals, businesses, communities and organizations that serve as models in taking an active role in protecting our natural resources. The awards are made in 9 different categories.

If you want to submit a nomination, the deadline is October 8. For more information, click here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Easy Green Living

I was scouting the sale bins at Hastings in Brownwood, TX when I was visiting there and found a neat book, Easy Green Living, by Renee Loux. You might want to check out the sale bins here--I recommend it.

The book looks at a lot of household items and discusses the environmental impact and suggests alternatives. It includes cleaning products, appliances, cookware, personal hygiene and beauty products. She also discusses labeling and what many labeling terms mean (in some cases, not much.)

The book is listed for $10 on Amazon, but I picked up at Hastings for $7.99.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park

I really need to replace my little camera to help liven up this blog. But that has nothing to do with the topic of this post.

Tonight John Ferguson, Superintendent of Lake Arrowhead State Park, held a meeting to gauge interest for a Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park 501(c)3 to support a variety of programs and amenities in the park. I don't think the word got out very well. Some members of the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists were there and one other person who is a member of the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club. The group agreed that there is a need for such an organization and there is interest. However, we want a more diverse group of organizations and individuals involved.

The park has over 80,000 visitors a year. Not bad for a small state park. But truthfully, the park is not manned or funded to do much more than it does. All agreed additional interpretive programs and additional park amenities would improve the park experience for those who come and would pull in more visitors. Additionally, a 501(c)3 organization could apply for grants and conduct fundraising activities to raise monies for things that are not likely to be funded by the state.

So the consensus was to move forward. The next meeting will be Saturday, November 6, 10:00 AM at the Dining Hall at the fishing docks. It would be great to have a good sized group of excited, interested and energetic people there. I will be teaching at MSU that day so will miss this meeting, but I'm in.

If you would like more information, contact the park at 940-528-2211.

New Neighborhood Fishing Pond

If you have been traveling on Southwest Parkway recently, then you know the city of Wichita Falls took out the small, overgrown pond near the Y and have replaced it with a much larger, more aesthetic pond, with trails, benches, and next year, a pavillion. I have the privilege of serving on the City Park Board, and we met today at the park to see up close what is happening on this project. It is exciting to know that the City is continuing to improve parks and recreational activities for our community.

The Times Record News ran a short article and photos in today's paper.

They are putting the finishing touches on the pond and soon there should be a grand opening event of some kind. The pond will be stocked for fishing by Texas Parks and Wildlife, as is Plum Lake on Sheppard Access Road.

Once the dirt has all settled, there will be a picnic pavillion on the hill adjacent to the pond and the trail will link to the city trail system.

I encourage individuals who are interested in parks and recreation to apply for a position on the Park Board. Currently there are no vacancies, but seats open regularly. You can apply online and your application will be considered by the City Council as vacancies occur.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sad News on the Food Front

Well, I was all excited about the possibility of a Sprouts food store in Wichita Falls. Emphasis on the "was." It turns out that Sprouts did a little more market research and decided United Market Street had too much market share and high customer loyalty so they figured they would have a difficult time competing. I love Market Street and shop there a lot, but there are some things that could be better, and I was hoping Sprouts could provide some alternatives.

So what's happening to the old Circuit City store? Apparently it will be demolished and an Aldi grocery store built at that location. Not the same at all.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Program on Composting

Fred Hall, the County Extension Agent, will be presenting a program on composting at the Native Plant Society meeting, tonight at 7PM at Vernon College Century City. The meeting is free and open to the public. If you want to learn to make your own compost, this would be a good start.

Sorry for the late notice, but I just read the email with the information today. I'll be at Vernon College, but not at this meeting--I am teaching a class down the hall.

Next City Compost Giveaway October 2

The next City of Wichita Falls compost giveaway is Saturday, October 2, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM at the landfill on Wiley Road.

Remember that to pick up compost, you need to take you water bill to show you pay the $3 surcharge for organics pickup and live in Wichita Falls. You also need a tarp to cover your load of compost.

This is always a popular event. Unfortunately, I am teaching that day at MSU....