NEWSLETTER


Right here at home - in the Hill Country!

August, 2005


HAYS COUNTY MASTER NATURALISTS

President Randy Moss

Vice President Tom Watson

Secretary Nancy Turner

Treasurer Winifred Simon

Training Committee

Joe Piazza

Records Committee

Judy Telford

State Advisory Board

Walt Krudop

Editor Richard Barnett Richb6986@aol.com

Webmaster Dave Schwarz

Extension Agent Bryan Davis

CALENDARR

August 9, 2005 Class Meeting: Birds, Linda Keese;

Wildlife (mammals and herps) and Habitat, Dr. Randy Simpson

August 13, 2005 Class Field Trip to John Knox Ranch, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon: Fishes, Dr. Randy Moss; Amphibians & Reptiles, Lee Ann Linam; Water Quality & Invertebrates, Gordon Linam

August 19, Conservation Development Symposium 2005, LBJ Wildflower Centre.

August 27: A day on the San Marcos River with Betty Watkins. More information below.

September 13, 2005 Class Meeting: Prairies, Bob Lyons; Insects, Noel Troxclair (Chapter

3)

September 14-16: Texas Plant Conservation Conference, LBJ Wildflower Centre

September 17, 2005 Class Field Trip to Bamberger Ranch, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon,

$10.00 per person

September 24: HCMN Chapter Meeting: "A WORKDAY AT ONION CREEK." The

meeting consists of juniper removal in the morning, a brown bag lunch, and a 1-hour

presentation by a biologist from the Wildlands Conservation Division of Austin Utilities.

Participants receive credit Advanced Training and Volunteer hours. More information in

September.

October 5 - 8: Springs and Things: Importance of Groundwater, Riparian Areas and Wetlands in a Changing Watershed. Annual Meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Society of Wetlands Scientists, Texas State University campus, San Marcos.

October 2005 Class Meeting: Livestock on Small Acreage, Dr. Rick Machem,

Chapter 8; Agricultural and Wildlife Tax Valuation, KayBeth Williams

October 16: Annual picnic at Vetter Park. Watch for more information about arrangements.

October 21 to 23: Statewide Annual Meeting and Advanced Training at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

November 1, 2005 Class Meeting: Land Fragmentation, Dr. Neal Wilkins, Chapter 7;

Land Stewardship & Sharing Your Knowledge Effectively, Sonny Arnold

November 8, 2005 Class Graduation: Bryan Davis

November 17-19, Statewide Conference on Non-native Invasive Species. LBJ Wildflower

Center

November 19. HCMN Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers. Location:

Wimberley. Watch for more information about date, arrangements, and possible speaker.

December. Annual party and presentation of awards.

Watch for more information about date and arrangements.

A second Christmas party for regional Master Naturalist Chapters is in the planning stage.

The organizers have proposed the Cibolo Nature Centre in Boerne as the location.

Please watch for more information about date and arrangements.

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A Day on the River

"A Day on the River with Betty Watkins."

11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday, August 27

All Chapter members, including trainees, are invited to gather at Betty Watkins home between 11 am and 4 pm on Saturday, August 27th for an afternoon of socializing, loafing, recreating, and advanced training with a potluck lunch. Betty's place is on the banks of the San Marcos River so there are opportunities for canoeing/kayaking, tubing, and swimming.

Boaters and tubers can put in at the bridge over 1979 or at Betty's. The chapter will supply drop-off and pick-up services. The mainstream of the San Marcos River is swift so only strong swimmers may swim there; there are backwaters for the less skilled and shallow waters for sitting or wading. Swimmers, boaters, and tubers should wear life jackets for safety.

There are plenty of shade trees for just sitting around or tossing horseshoes. The leadership committee (Minnette Marr, Randy Moss, or Tom Watson) will conduct at least one hour of advanced training.

What to bring: Bring entrees, salads, deserts, chips and dips and the tableware needed for serving your dish. Bring enough for yourself and a few others. The chapter will supply iced tea and water; you may bring other drinks if desired. The chapter will supply paper plates, napkins, and plastic tableware.

Bring your own boats, tubes, and lawn chairs if you have them. If not, Betty has 5 or 6 tubes and a few folding chairs. Canoes can be rented at the village of Staples for about $25 per day.

Directions to the Watkins: From I-35 in San Marcos, take US Highway 80 (Exit 205) east through Martindale (Betty says to watch your speed in Martindale; the police do!) to FM 1979 which is 5.5 miles E of I-35 and is the first right past the second blinking light in Martindale. Turn right on FM1979, cross the river, and turn left onto Martinsdale Falls Way at "The Falls at Martindale" subdivision sign. Martinsdale Falls Way is 1.2 miles from US 80. Proceed down Martinsdale Falls to the dead end. At the dead end, turn right and Betty's is the fifth house (#1061) on the left. It is red brick with an RV in the driveway. Feel free to park along the street if the driveway is full.

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Advanced Training

Statewide Annual Meeting & Advanced Training

This year's meeting will be held October 21 to 23 at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

Please watch this space for more information about the Advanced Training schedule.

Conservation Development Symposium

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the University of Texas School of Architecture and the Texas Land Trust Program present the 4th annual Conservation Development Symposium at the Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, at 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Friday, August 19, with an optional field trip on Saturday, August 20.

Land - Texas' most precious, fundamental natural resource - is being developed at an alarming rate. The rapid growth of our cities has created tremendous demand for housing and commercial space, exerting tremendous stress on fragile environment.

Conservation development is an exciting and innovative path towards preserving the rural heritage of Texas for future generations while serving the needs of our economy. The goal of the Conservation Development Symposium is to move conservation development forward in Texas by raising awareness of alternative approaches to developing land that are both profitable and ecologically sound.

Conservation developments are neighborhoods and commercial properties characterized by common open space with clustered lots. These developments work to balance residential development with agricultural needs, open space, and natural resources while retaining a unique sense of place. The Conservation Development Symposium will provide insight to landowners, developers and governmental officials on how encourage conservation developments regionally.

Registration
- Register online for one-day Symposium - click here for details
- Register by mail or fax - download a printable registration form
- Contact Stephen Brueggerhoff at sbrueggerhoff@wildflower.org
- Or call (512) 292-4200, ext. 112
- Optional Saturday field trip at no cost requires RSVP to mike@walnut-springs.com

Registration Fees
General public $100; Wildflower Center members, government employees, and students. $75. Fee includes lunch on Friday.
Register early: $15 additional late fee if received after August 9th or at the door.

Texas Plant Conservation Conference

Join us at the LBJ Wildflower Centre on September 14-16 for a three-day summit on strategies for conserving Texas' rare and endangered flora. This conference provides a forum for private landowners, botanists, professionals, and academics from all regions of the state to exchange information and ideas, discuss plant conservation, and plan for the future of Texas. Speakers, including Peggy Olwell from the Bureau of Land Management, will discuss on-going rare and endangered plant research and update conference participants on the status of these projects. Conference participants will be invited to review and comment on a draft of a proposed statewide Comprehensive Plant Conservation Action Plan. More info and registration

Springs and Things

Springs and Things: Importance of Groundwater, Riparian Areas and Wetlands in a Changing Watershed: Annual Meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Society of Wetlands Scientists

Texas State University campus, San Marcos, Texas; October 5 - 8, 2005

Thursday, October 6: One day Wetland and Riparian Plant ID class. 20 person limit. This course will focus on the identification of vascular plant species (including grasses) with an emphasis on wetlands, riparian areas, and transition areas. David E. Lemke, PhD, Professor of Biology, Texas State University.

October 5 and 6: Two day Wetland Delineation, Ordinary High Water Marks, and GPS Mapping 101. 20 person limit. Introduction to wetland and waters delineation and GPS mapping. This is geared toward students and those unfamiliar with the delineation process. This workshop is designed to tie all the pieces together for a successful delineation. A course designed to provide basic information about identification and delineation of wetlands and other waters, and using GPS equipment to delineate boundaries. Scott W. Jecker CWB, PWS and Western Data Systems.

Thursday, October 6: Chapter Meeting
7:00 PM - Kickoff Social and Dinner: A good old fashion porch sitting and cookout at the house of the South Central Chapter Past President Scott Jecker. All drinks and food included with registration. Directions and map provided. RSVP required.

Friday, October 7
8:00 - 11:00 am" Plenary Session on Texas water issues.
11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Student Paper Competition and/or Technical Paper Sessions.
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: Lunch on your own.
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Student Paper Competition and/or Technical Paper Sessions.
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Tubing 101. The San Marcos River provides the perfect setting for a tube outing. This "class" gives participants a hands on experience on the in and outs of tubing. The weather should still be great and the take out spot will be at our social and dinner location. Expect to pay a small fee for tube rental and a shuttle.
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Social and Dinner at the River Pub overlooking the San Marcos River. Dinner and Non-Alcohol beverages provided with registration.
Saturday, October 8
8:00 am - 11:00 pm: Student Paper Competition and/or Technical Paper Sessions.
11:00 am - 1:00 pm: South Central Chapter Business Meeting and Lunch: Student Paper Awards. Light lunch provided.

Call for Abstracts for Technical Session
The South Central Chapter invites all wetland and water professionals to submit papers to be presented at the Fall Chapter meeting. In addition to papers that fit our Theme, we will accept papers on all aspects of wetland science. Please prepare a short abstract on your presentation and email your abstract in MSWord format to Jeff Raasch at jeff.raasch@tpwd.state.tx.us. Abstract Deadline is September 9th!

South Central Chapter Workshop & Meeting Registration
October 5-8, 2005, San Marcos, Texas

All non-members of the Society of Wetland Scientist who register for a workshop or the Chapter meeting receive an annual membership to the Society of Wetland Scientists, which includes the Society's Journal,Wetlands. All non-members who register for a workshop and would also like to attend the Chapter meeting are eligible to attend the Chapter meeting at the member price.

REGISTRATION: Contact Sonny Arnold at mr-arnold@tamu.edu.
SWS Member: $85. Non-members: $185, Student members: $35
Student non-members: $70. Guest Ticket: $30 (includes Thursday and Friday Social/Dinner).

First Statewide Conference on Invasive Plants

On November 17th and 18th, 2005, the Pulling Together Initiative will host the first statewide conference in Texas on non-native invasive plants. The conference will be held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

The first two days of the conference will be a professional level meeting including plenary, concurrent sessions, posters, and panels. The Professional Meeting is designed to serve scientists, land managers, state and federal agencies, local governments, and other professionals interested in invasive plant research and policy in Texas.

The third day of the conference, November 19, is devoted to Public Awareness and educational outreach and will be open to the general public.


Texas Master Naturalists are invited to participate in this Public Awareness session. This should provide an excellent chance to learn the latest information regarding invasive species and the opportunities for organizations like ours to be involved. Members should check with Judy Telford for approval of advanced training hours for this activity.

Complete details are available at www.texasinvasives.org.

Conference Goals
Facilitate communication among the state's stakeholders who have a vested interest in non-native invasive plants;
Help develop a coordinated response to address non-native invasive plants on a statewide level;
Provide a venue for sharing information about prevention, early detection, control & management, restoration, and research; and
Raise public awareness of the problems posed by non-native invasive plants in the state of Texas.

Who Should Attend?
Land management specialists from local, state, and federal agencies, including municipal, regional, state and federal parks*
Environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Native Plant Society, Audubon, Land Conservancies, Land Trusts, etc*
Restoration consulting firms both large and small*
Military establishments *
Researchers and students from State University systems and private colleges*
Companies servicing restoration and weed removal projects including equipment manufacturers, G.P.S. providers, herbicide producers, and landscape architects

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Chapter News

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Hays County Bird Checklist now available



Part of our chapter's "Snapshot of Hays County" project, the Hays County Bird Checklist has been printed and is now available.


The checklist is a must for anyone interested in the birds of our area and gives expected occurrence by season, nesting status, and a list of accidental sightings. The list was compiled from previous lists for Wimberley, San Marcos, San Marcos Springs, and the banding records of the Driftwood Wildlife Association. Nicely printed on card stock for
in-the-field use, the list will sell for 50ยข or $1.00 by mail (order from: Winifred Simon, P.O. Box 398, Wimberley, TX 78676).

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Volunteer Opportunities

Wildscape Garden, San Marcos Nature Center

HCMN Project # 405

The cardinal flower has succumbed to the dry weather, but the garden continues to produce a modest floral display of lantana, rose mallows, ruellia, sage, salvia, sunflower, and turk's cap. Passion vines attract a few Gulf Fritillaries, though hummingbirds outnumber them this year, not to mention red wasps and dragonflies. Inconspicuous frogfruit attracts equally unobtrusive checkered skippers, and you may be fortunate enough to see an occasional Silver-spotted Skipper on the lantana. You will find a few Gulf Fritillary caterpillars at work on the passion vines. Otherwise, the number and diversity of butterflies is conspicuously lower than last year.

If you have seeds, bulbs, hardy seedlings, or extra specimens of native annuals and perennials that need a home, we invite you to share them with the Wildscape Garden. Native plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds are doubly welcome. Gayfeathers, Indian paintbrush, standing cypress, Texas verbena, plains agalinis, zexmenia, blackfoot daisy, scarlet pea, palafoxia, dalea, slender vervain, phlox, blue-eyed grass, Herbertia, celestials, rain lily, copper lily, skeleton flower, Barbara buttons, prairie larkspur, skullcap, penstemon, ageratum, mistflower, or tansy, for example, please test them in the Wildscape Garden. If they can grow Texas bluebells at the old fish hatchery, we might as well try too.

The soil is a mixture of black clay and assorted stony scrapings from road shoulders, leavened with bits of modern and Indian artifacts. Much of it sits on a layer of asphalt paving or is leavened with lumps of asphalt paving. It's not what you would choose for a rose garden, but bluebonnets don't mind and other attractive native plants may flourish too and add colour throughout the year.

A prickly poppy or two would not be out of place, but we will have to think twice about bull nettles. We have enough trees, shrubs and sage, and more than enough lantana, ruellia, and pink evening primrose. Frogfruit and straggler daisies are also doing very nicely without encouragement.

Wimberley Visitor Center Flower Beds

HCMN Project 529

The Wimberley Visitor Center provides information about Wimberley and the Hill Country to visitors. The Center occupies an attractive modern building in Hill Country-style at 14100 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX 78676, in front of the new Civic Center and The Refuge, Wimberley's first bird sanctuary. Next door to the south stands the Wimberley-Winters House, the restored home of Wimberley pioneer families.

The Civic Center has gardens in front and behind that need regular watering, trimming and maintenance. HCMN Project Contact Linda Hoppes (l_hoppes@yahoo.com) plans to provide deer-resistant native plants that support beneficial wildlife. Linda also wants to install more birdhouses and butterfly houses. The grounds of the Civic Center, The Refuge, and the Wimberley-Winters House together offer several acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife. Much still needs cleanup and restoration elsewhere, but most of the dirty work lies in the past at the Civic Center grounds.

The HCMN Executive Board approved this new project on August 4, 2005.

CCC Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens

HCMN Project 527

The Campus Christian Community at 604 N Guadalupe provides services to students, faculty, and staff at Texas State University and is the meeting site for the San Marcos Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship. The building has some landscaping in the front, but it is not well maintained. In the gaps between existing plantings, we will fill the area with plants that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The back area is covered with St. Augustine grass.

Proposal:

Design and construct a butterfly & hummingbird garden with a meandering path.

Plant materials will be low-maintenance, natives.

Gather as much free compost, mulch, rocks, and plants as possible.

Maintain the garden.

Improve and enlarge as time and money are available.

The executive board of Hays County Master Naturalists has approved this new project. The HCMN contacts are Anne Allen, Barbara Jacobson, and Judy Telford.

Time to get ready for TPWD EXPO!
-- an easy way to get in those service hours!

Several Master Naturalist volunteers are needed to man the Master Naturalist display and Wildscapes tent at Wildlife EXPO this year. Expo will be held October 1st and 2nd on the grounds of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Headquarters in Austin. Volunteers are needed to help man the Master Naturalist display and surround the Wildscape and Wildlife Diversity tents.

The actual event occurs Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 5 PM each day. Volunteers would answer questions about the Master Naturalist program and assist with other activities being conducted at the display. The questions most often received are easy and range from: What would I do as a Master Naturalist? What does the training involve? Where do I obtain Training? How do I find a chapter near me? You already know the answers to all the questions. What you don't know (the phone number or email to a particular chapter, for example) will be provided for you in hard copy format on-site along with Texas Master Naturalist Brochures. You will also have time to walk around and see the event for yourself.

Available Shifts are as follows:
Saturday: Morning Shift: 7:30 AM to 12:30 Noon
Afternoon Shift: 12:30 noon to 5:30 PM
Sunday: Morning Shift: 7:30 AM to 12:30 Noon:
Afternoon Shift: 12:30 noon to 5:30 PM

If you are able to volunteer, please contact Michelle Haggerty. Working 8 hours at Expo gets you a free T-shirt

Volunteers Needed for TMN Annual Meeting
Several volunteers are still needed to assist with the Statewide Annual Meeting and Advanced Training. This year's meeting will be held October 21 to 23 at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

Thank you to the dozens of you who have already responded. However, more volunteers are still needed. Volunteer help needed includes:

Prior to and during the meeting:
- Project Fair Coordinator(s)
- Coordinator(s) of vendors for the Naturalists Store
- Photo and Art Contest Coordinator(s)
- Soliciting Door Prizes
- Door Prize Coordinator(s)
- Collecting Pictures/slides for the slide show
- Slide Show Coordinator(s)
- Welcome Packet/Goody Bag Coordinator

During the meeting:
- Check-in and Registration Table
- AV check in/out table
- Room Hosts/Field Trip Hosts (If you want to absolutely guarantee your attendance at a particular Annual Meeting training/session then sign up to be a room host or field trip host!)
- Social and Project Fair set-up

All Annual Meeting volunteers will receive a special gift and recognition at the Annual Meeting. Call/Email Michelle Haggerty to sign up or to obtain more details as they become available.

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State News

Texas Monarch Watch

Status of the Population

They're back! The monarchs are making a recovery from the low populations that have persisted since the winter of 2004. As you may recall, severe storms at the overwintering sites in January and February of 2004 reduced the population to an extremely low level. In fact, the number of returning monarchs in the spring of 2004 was the lowest recorded in recent years. Unfortunately, the conditions through most of the breeding season were unfavorable last summer. The cold weather that prevailed in the northern portion of the breeding range limited the number of monarch generations and reduced population size. The result was the most erratic migration we've experienced since we started Monarch Watch in 1992 and the lowest overwintering population recorded to date in Mexico (2.19 hectares).

The good news is that we should see a near average migration in most of the country this fall and an overwintering population in Mexico that could be in the five to seven hectare range or higher (a considerable improvement over last year, yet a bit below the long-term average of nine hectares). Am I being too optimistic? I don't think so. The number of monarch sightings in June was the highest recorded in the last six years. Further, the reports from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are positive and the conditions for monarch reproduction for the last generation of the season appear to be favorable throughout the breeding range. The possible exceptions are north central Illinois, northern Indiana, and extreme southern Michigan, which are all experiencing drought conditions. Monarchs are spotty in New England, but that is generally the case at this time of year. The northeast should see a modest migration this fall - one that is a bit below that of the long-term average; however, that could change. New females should be emerging every day for the next two weeks and if conditions are favorable for egg laying from now through the first week of August, the fall population could be average, or even a bit above average, in this region.

All in all, the prospects for a good fall migration are excellent!

-- by Chip Taylor, edited by Jim Lovett and Sarah Schmidt, and published by Jim Lovett in Monarch Watch Update, July 28, 2005. http://www.MonarchWatch.org.

Local News

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Resources

CHIMNEY SWIFTS PUBLICATION AVAILABLE

Chimney Swifts: America's Mysterious Birds above the Fireplace by Paul D. Kyle and Georgean Z. Kyle. 152 pp. 41 color and 4 b&w photos. 28 line drawings. Map. Bib. Index.
College Station: Texas A&M University Press. $34.00 cloth $16.95 paper

If you live in a home with a fireplace, you may have provided a home for one of nature's most beneficial creatures-the Chimney Swift. These birds migrate each spring from the Amazon River Basin to North America to breed and raise their young. They begin arriving in the southern U.S. in mid-March, and their nesting period lasts from May through August. Chimney Swifts are among the most nurturing of wildlife, mating for life and devoting themselves to providing for their young. They also benefit humans, dining on pesky insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and termites. A baby Chimney Swift alone will eat as many as 2400 insects each day.

Authors Paul and Georgean Kyle first encountered a Chimney Swift in 1983, and immediately fell in love with this unique bird. They have since turned their eight-acre homestead near Austin, Texas, into a world-renowned Chimney Swift sanctuary and research station. Together they have observed, researched, hand-reared, and rehabilitated these birds.

When the Kyles learned that changes in chimney construction and negative homeowner attitudes have caused a drastic decline in the numbers of Chimney Swifts over the last thirty years, they became determined to reverse this decline in population. They have made enlightening the public about these beneficial birds their mission. In Chimney Swifts, they share the knowledge they've gained, exploring their natural history and biology, providing advice for peaceful coexistence with Chimney Swifts and for creating new habitat for these birds. A companion construction guide, Chimney Swift Towers: New Habitat for America's Mysterious Birds is also available from Texas A&M University Press.

PAUL D. KYLE and GEORGEAN Z. KYLE are project directors of the Driftwood Wildlife Association's North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project, an all-volunteer effort to expand public awareness about the beneficial nature and the plight of Chimney Swifts. Participation across North America in this project has produced a growing number of people who are now constructing nesting towers and conducting Chimney Swift conservation projects in their own communities.

Chimney Swifts is available at stores or directly from Texas A&M University Press; 800-826-8911 M-F 8-5 CT; secure online ordering at www.tamu.edu/upress.


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Links to Chapter Sponsors and Partners

Sponsors

Texas Master Naturalist - State Website - masternaturalist.tamu.edu
Texas Cooperative Extension - agextension.tamu.edu/
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - www.tpwd.state.tx.us/

Partners

Bamberger Ranch -- http://www.bambergerranch.org/workshops.htm

LBJ Wildflower Center -- www.wildflower.org

Native Plant Society of Texas - www.npsot.org/
Texas Cooperative Extension - Sea Grant Program - texas-sea-grant.tamu.edu/
Texas Forest Service - txforestservice.tamu.edu/
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - www.usace.army.mil/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - www.fws.gov/
U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service - .nrcs.usda.gov/

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© 2005 Hays County Master Naturalists