Thursday, February 24, 2011

Texas Master Naturalists Holding Meet and Greet

The Rolling Plains chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists will hold a meet and greet and public forum on Tuesday, March 1, at 6:30 PM at River Bend Nature Center.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The speaker is Henry C. Wied with the Red River Authority. He will be speaking about the Red River Authority, with an emphasis on their environmental operations. His presentation will begin at 7:00 pm.

Also at this meeting, Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will receive certification recognition awards and information will be available about the Spring training class and upcoming chapter projects.

Please come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lecture Series Starting Again at River Bend

River Bend Nature Center is starting their lecture series again. Tonight is geology and soils at 7PM. Members get in free; others are $3.

For those interested in birds, I will be doing a program on March 7, "Winged Journeys: Mysteries of Bird Migration." There are always interesting programs at River Bend--I hope you'll plan to take part when you can.

Anybody Know?

Someone just told me that when they take their yard trimmings to the transfer station there is no longer a separate place to put them. Anyone know the true scoop? I cannot believe the city would do this, but I am checking out the rumor.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great News!

River Bend Nature Center has announced they are reducing their membership prices. This is great news! Membership helps support this jewel in the city and returns benefits in reduced pricing for RBNC events.

If price kept you from joining before, consider purchasing a membership now.

Nature Photography Show

Laurie Hall is a member of the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists and a talented photographer. She has a show of her photographs opening this Sunday at the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon.

The opening reception is this Sunday, February 20 from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 PM. Admission is free.

The museum is on the Vernon College Campus. Take 287 north from Wichita Falls to Vernon, then take the Hwy 70/Crowell exit. The museum is on the right at the last entrance to Vernon College.

Hope you'll make the effort to visit the exhibit during its run.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What's the Worst That Can Possibly Happen?

Two of my Facebook friends posted a YouTube video on their page about climate change, called "What's the Worst that Can Happen?" I have tried to use this argument with the climate-change-is-a-fabrication-of-Al-Gore faction and I can't say it has any impact. But since I don't know the future, I think the argument has merit.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Story of Bottled Water

I rarely drink bottled water. Yes, I sometimes buy some when I am out in the field and get hot and for whatever reason have run out of the water I bring with me. But I have been trying to make that less and less common.

In this little animation, "The Story of Water," find out why bottled water is just crazy. Now I know there are communities where the drinking water is not safe for short times during a crisis or due to some sort of contaimination. And I drank thousands of bottles of water during a 4-month deployment to Saudi Arabia as that was the option available. I keep an emergency supply of water in gallon containers just in case. However, bottled water should be the exception, not the rule. Not only is it environmentally irresponsible, it is economically nuts for the consumer.

For those who live in Wichita Falls or who live in communities that purchase their water from Wichita Falls, the water quality is good. If you believe you can taste the salts in the water on occasion and want to get rid of that taste, consider a filter at your tap where you pull out your drinking water. I am not convinced it is necessary, but would seem to be more sensible than bottled water.

Can you commit to saying "no" to bottled water?

Pollinator Gardens

I got an email today from the Xerces Society advertising bumble bee garden kits. Planting for wildlife is a great idea and certainly bumble bees and other pollinators are in trouble. However, not all of the plants included in this kit are native to this area. I suggest if you are interested in planting to provide habitat for pollinators in addition to butterflies and birds, you might print out the list of plants included in the kit and take it to one of the local nurseries and ask them what the native options for these plants would be.

Monday, February 7, 2011

State Budget and State Parks

It's no secret there is a budget crunch in Texas and the state is looking for ways to cut spending. Our state parks may be a target. A proposal is that the TPWD budget be cut by approximately 25%. That would just about gut the department, especially maintenance and improvement of our parks.

Texas doesn't have much public parkland as it is. Texas ranks 47th among the states for the percentage of land owned by the Federal or State government. Although we have a lot of open space, that space is privately owned. Overall, I think most state landowners do their best to protect and preserve their property, but the bottom line is, those lands are not open to the public and are not for the recreational use of the people of the state.

Texas was contemplating a sell off of some wonderful parks not that long ago. For those of us to whom public land is a vital legacy for the future--we need to be paying attention.

I believe the state budget needs to be balanced, but we also need to be balanced in how we approach the problem. I also know the state has many necessary and important needs to fund. We tend to look at parks as a "nice to have" instead of a "need to have" and we tend to think in the short term instead of taking a long view.

This is also an example of why we are working hard to set up a Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park group to help raise funds and do a lot of projects at the park that may not get done any other way. Don't forget the meeting on March 3, mentioned in the previous post. Lake Arrowhead is close to the city of Wichita Falls and for many residents is the only state park they are close enough to visit at little or no expense.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow and Ice--Reschedule Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park

Well, we seem to have one bad storm each winter, and we definitely had it last week. I haven't left the house in days. However, the thaw did finally set it Friday and by the end of yesterday, the roads seem to be safe enough. Which is a good thing as I need to make a trip to the grocery before the next round of predicted storms tonight and Wednesday.

Texas had a round of rolling blackouts during the very cold weather (single digits, with below zero wind chills--brrrr!) We obviously aren't set up for this severe winter weather. Fortunately, people had the good sense to stay home and off the streets. Usually, it seems people try to ignore the weather--Texans just aren't cold weather people and pick ups (the vehicle of choice) isn't the best vehicle for driving on ice. But many seemed to have learned their lesson with the Christmas Eve blizzard last year that left many people stranded on the roads for many hours.

But because of the bad weather, several events were cancelled. One of those was the Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park. That meeting for February has been cancelled. The next meeting will be March 3, 7 PM in the Dining Hall at Lake Arrowhead State Park. Bring your dues ($10 per person or $15 per family)--we are official with the state and are working on the 501(c)(3) designation. Hope to see you there.