NEWSLETTER


Right here at home - in the Hill Country!

June, 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

June 4, Westcave Preserve Field Trip. 9:30 am - noon. Details below.

June 9, TOWN Monthly meeting, 6:30 pm. Speaker, Dan Snodgrass, SA Nature

Conservancy. San Marcos Police Dept, I35-S between Wonderworld Dr and McCarty.

June 9. TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) Seminar, LBJ Wildflower Centre. 8:00 am

-- noon. TDR plays a key role in the Regional Water Quality Protection Plan for the

Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer. For more information, please visit

http://www.tdrseminar.com.

June 17-19, Native Prairies Association of Texas Biennial Conference at Baylor University, Waco. http://www.texasprairie.org/events/news.htm.

June 14, 2005 Class Meeting at Aquarena Center: Wetlands, Dr. Randy Moss;

Restoration Nursery, Minnette Marr; Glass Bottom Boat Ride; Hillside Nature Walk, Bryan Davis & Tom Watson (Aquarium - 5:30 optional)

July 12, 2005 Class Meeting: Birds, Linda Keese; Bats, Meg Goodman (Chapter 4,1-17)

NO other Chapter activity is scheduled for July.

August 9, 2005 Class Meeting: Trees, Robert Edmondson, Chapter 4,18-23;

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

August ?, 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 27: A day on the San Marcos River with Betty Watkins. Watch for more information about arrangements.

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

3)

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

$10.00 per person

September 22: HCMN program in Wimberley.

Watch for more information about guest speaker, program, and location.

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

Chapter 8; Agricultural and Wildlife Tax Valuation, KayBeth Williams

October 15, 2005 Class Field Trip to Eagle Rock Ranch; Wildlife Management Activities, KayBeth Williams

October: Annual picnic at Vetter Park. Watch for more information about date and 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. HCMN Annual Business Meeting and election of Officers.

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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Westcave Preserve Field Trip

June's MN Chapter outing will be to Westcave Preserve in southwest Travis County off Hamilton Pool Road, north of Dripping Springs. Westcave is one of the region's natural treasures, rich in majestic beauty and ecological diversity. Juniper-Live Oak savanna typical of the Hill Country dominates its uplands ecosystem. Below this semi-arid savanna lies a limestone crevice that leads to a cool, sheltered canyon created more than 100,000 years ago by the collapse of an immense cavern. We will follow a trail along a clear running creek to the canyon head where a waterfall trickles over travertine columns -- remnants of the extinct grotto -- into a pristine pool. The limestone canyon and creek are lined with cypress trees, maidenhair ferns, red Texas columbine, wild orchids, and many other native flowering plants. Wildlife abounds in the preserve, which serves as sanctuary for a variety of birds and mammals, including golden-cheeked warblers, cedar waxwings, foxes, and ring-tailed cats.

We will meet at the visitor center at 9:30 am on Saturday, June 4th (the gates do not open until that time) and begin our tour at 10 am. The Preserve does not conduct private tours on weekends so we will need to be there as soon as the gate opens to be at the head of the line. According to the director, very few visitors usually come at that time of the morning. The cost is $5 per adult and $2 for children. The round-trip into and out of the canyon is about 1 mile. The descent into the canyon is steep in places; but there are steps and a handrail. Most of the trail is not very rugged so good walking shoes will suffice. Estimated time for tour is 1.5 - 2 hours.

Directions: If coming from Austin, travel West on Highway 71 to the village of Bee Caves. Turn left at Ranch Road 3238 locally known as Hamilton Pool Road. Travel 14 ½ miles on Hamilton Pool Road to the Pedernales River. Westcave Preserve is the first gate on your right after crossing the river. If coming from Dripping Springs, follow Hwy 12 until it dead-ends into Hamilton Pool Road (RR 3238), a distance of about 6.5 miles N of Dripping Springs. Turn left (West) onto Hamilton Pool Road and proceed for 6.8 miles to the entrance to Westcave Preserve on the right.

As you approach the preserve, you will descend to traverse a low water crossing over the Pedernales River and climb an incline after traversing the river. Be cautious on the slopes and crossing as the road has hairpin curves and the bridge has only one lane. Shortly after you round the curve at the top of the incline, the entrance to the preserve will be on your right. Immediately after entering the gate, turn right and proceed to the parking lot at the visitor center.

We look forward to sharing another enjoyable learning experience with you.

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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.

Horned Lizard Conservation and Management in Texas

Workshop on Horned Lizard Conservation and Management in Texas
June 4-5, 2005, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

What's happened to horned lizards in Texas? Where are they still found? How can we manage and restore horned lizards and native ants? How effective is current research?

This workshop, designed to look at the above questions, is open to landowners, land managers, researchers, and just plain ol' horned lizard aficionados. Saturday's session includes presentations on horned lizard biology, management, distribution, propagation, reintroduction, and land management incentives. A meeting of the Texas Chapter of the Horned Lizard Conservation Society follows the presentations, and a research working group will discuss research needs, standardization of methodologies, future workshops, and other common interests.

Sundays's program features a field trip to the Beach Ranch. Beach Ranch, about 5000 acres in size, is an excellent example of private owners managing for biodiversity. Ongoing restoration efforts there include prairie dogs and burrowing owls, enhancement of water sources, and increased habitat for wildlife. It also serves as a site for releases by the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and for horned lizard research. Located just outside of Post, it is a great example of the Rolling Plains ecosystem.

Schedule of activities:
Saturday -- Goddard Range, Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences Building, Room 101
9:30 am, Registration begins
10:30am - 4:30 pm, Papers on horned lizard ecology (lunch is on your own)
4:30 pm, Horned Lizard Conservation Society business meeting and Horned lizard research working group meeting
Sunday, 8:00 am, Depart TTU for Beach Ranch field trip
1:00 pm, Return to Texas Tech

Registration: $5 per day, which includes abstracts and snacks.
Space may be limited. To reserve your space contact Lee Ann Linam at 512-847-9480 or lalinam@wimberley-tx.com by May 27.

Sponsored by: Horned Lizard Conservation Society, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Tech University, and University of Texas - Permian Basin

Lee Ann Johnson Linam, Wildlife Diversity Branch, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
200 Hoots Holler Rd.,Wimberley, Texas 78676
512-847-9480, lalinam@wimberley-tx.com

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Chapter News

Addition to Hays County Flora

Master Naturalists Tom Watson and Jamie Kinscherff have found and documented a charming addition to the list of Hays County Flora compiled by Winifred Simon.

Watson and Kinscherff found the plant on a portion of the old Rutherford Ranch along Hwy 150, one mile east of the Hays City Store, where they have been doing volunteer work.

Their trophy is Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea. The plant is treated in Johnston and Correll as Alophia drummondii; but more recent research shows that the best designation is as a subspecies of Herbertia lahue. These plants are 4 to 6" tall and not easily seen in the grassy meadows where they occur because surrounding tall grasses hide them; accounting for their absence from previous floral records.

Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea is endemic to Texas and is distributed (as far as known) primarily in South Texas. It also occurs naturally nearby in Travis County at the LBJ Wildflower Center.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Wildscape Garden, San Marcos Nature Center

HCMN Project # 405

The empty patches at the west end of the wildscape garden are filling up now. Betty Watkins, Winifred Simon, and Judy Telford have contributed native plants. We are watching them anxiously and hoping to nurse them through the hot, dry days of summer. There's no predicting which will flourish and which will vanish.

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.

The soil is a mixture of black clay and assorted stony scrapings from road shoulders. 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 the 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.

Trail Building and Maintenance

HCMN Project # 424

DATE: On-going projects

ACTIVITY: Volunteers will selectively remove brush, trees, and rocks in new trail corridors, create new trails, and maintain existing trails They will be instructed on site by a crew manager.

SPONSORS: Corps of Engineers Canyon Lake Park; Camino Real Cycling Club (CRCC); Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club; San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance (SMGA); Hays County Parks Depts .

SPONSOR CONTACTS: James Buratti (CRCC), 512-245-3641, jb63@txstate.edu ; Todd Derkacz (SMGA), 512-754-9321, tobe@austin.rr.com ; Jerry Pinnix (Hays Co), 512-393-2212, jlp2002@earthlink.net

HCMN CONTACT: Judy Telford, 512-353-8143, 2303 E McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666, jt01@txstate.edu.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Volunteers can expect to cut and remove trees, brush and rocks in new trail corridors, create new trails, and groom existing trails. They are welcome to work as much or as little as they feel up to. We just want everyone to enjoy the process of creating new hiking and biking trails. Some are narrow, natural surface trails that are built by hand without motorized equipment.

There are opportunities for volunteers of all ages and experience. A crew manager will instruct volunteers in methods and safety on site. Safety is the first priority. Careful attention is paid to erosion prevention, proper pruning techniques, natural aesthetics and preservation of valuable natural elements.

Every SMGA session begins with a safety briefing. People who volunteer and who have zero experience with natural surface trails may be required to read a short text or receive a briefing on some basic trail techniques before they touch a tool.

Tools will be provided. Volunteers should bring work gloves, sturdy shoes, eye protection, and water.

All trail building is on public land such as Canyon Lake Park, Lake Georgetown Park, Hughson Park, Schulle Canyon, and other city and county parks as they are identified. Volunteers are usually required to sign a volunteer release from liability.

Volunteers who really enjoy the experience can attend a trail building school, usually held once a year.

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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Local News

Wimberley Closes Blue Hole Purchase

The Village of Wimberley completed its purchase of the former campgrounds at Blue Hole on Cypress Creek on May 2. Village officials and former owner Peter Way signed the last documents 15 months after Wimberley undertook to raise $2.8 million to buy the land from Mr. Way.

Wimberley's next challenge is a campaign to fund the development of the property for recreation and as a nature preserve. The campaign begins formally on the Memorial Day weekend with a Red, White and Blue Hole Gala at Old Glory Ranch on Friday, May 27, and an open house at Blue Hole on Saturday, May 28. For more information, please see http://www.savebluehole.org.

As a member of the Village Parks and Recreation Board, Master Naturalist Dell Hood was instrumental in the preparation of a Blue Hole master plan. Dell writes:

"The 126 acres of Blue Hole Park constitute the largest single piece of natural Hill County public land in Hays County, and it will be able to provide diverse recreational facilities for many different users. Picnic areas, hiking/biking and equestrian trails, soccer fields, primitive camping, and birdwatching sites are among the low-impact uses compatible with protection of this natural area.

"Fully as important for enjoyment of this site will be the fields of native grasses and wildflowers, the groves of mixed Central Texas trees and shrubs, the bluffs and natural outcroppings of weathered limestone, and the many species of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals for which this unique ecosystem is home -- all of which set the character of Wimberley for both residents and visitors. Several schools throughout Hays County have expressed interest in developing outdoor environmental education programs using resources of a Blue Hole regional park. The site offers opportunities of interest as well to the Nature/Heritage Tourism program and the environmental education and water resources programs in the Geography Department at Texas State University in San Marcos.

"In addition, a research and education process could be established to study and teach how people have interacted with the physical setting and the flora and fauna of Central Texas. As the population of the area becomes more diversified and people's connection with place is weakened, such an enterprise could help the community reach back to experiences and practices which led to the particular place that is Wimberley today while enriching the cultural experiences of all.

"With its setting on tree-lined Cypress Creek, the park provides another potential resource based on what is exceptional about the property and intimately linked with the cultural history of Wimberley. Future park structures could be built with materials and techniques available to the founders of Wimberley. Historians and master traditional builders could be enlisted to recreate early architectural styles of the area. A traditional building school could be established which would allow the public to learn building techniques used by settlers in the Wimberley valley. Housekeeping technology, techniques of food collection and preparation, and medical and recreational practices of the pioneer period could be demonstrated and linked with projects of the Wimberley Institute of Cultures and elements of the school curriculum. It should be noted that electric power did not reach Wimberley and much of central Texas until the late 1930s, and thus was one of the last parts of the United States to fully enter the machine era."

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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