NEWSLETTER


Right here at home - in the Hill Country!

March, 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

March 4, 5th annual Statewide Water Conference, hosted by Environmental Defense Fund at LBJ Wildflower Center, Austin. Information: Alicia Isaac-Cura, 512-691-3435; http://www.texaswatermatters.org.

March 8, 2005 Class Meeting: Ecology & Ecological Restoration, Dr. Steve Windhager,

Chapters 1 & 5; Texas Archaeology, Dr. Britt Bousman

March 14 through April 25, Wildflower Days™ Are Here! The LBJ Wildflower Center

will be abuzz -- from the hum of pollinators busily tending the Spring crop of wildflowers to

the buzz of a bevy of fun and educational activities for families, friends, and flower lovers.

Wildflower Days™ kick off in March with the U.S. premier of Jane Davenport's

The Ladybird Chronicles (beginning 3/10) and a creative weekend called

An Artisans' Festival (3/19-20) -- read more below. Then, we continue in April with the

popular Spring Plant Sale (4/9-10). Throughout Wildflower Days™ , you'll find classes,

book signings, and exhibits galore -- a constant whirl of events during nature's busiest

season! We invite you to join us for our annual celebration of the natural beauty of native

plants -- click through to learn more.

March 19, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm: Hummingbird Festival, Texas Tech University Center at Junction. Kent Rylandaer, Mark Klym, Terry Maxwell, and Dan Brown present workshops on hummingbird anatomy, behavior, migration, nesting sequence, banding methods, and South American biodiversity. Registration: $25. For information and registration, contact Amanda Camp, tel 325-446-2301; Amanda.camp@ttu.edu; http://www.junction.ttu.edu under Field Research Station.

March 22, World Water Day

March 26, Wildflower Fiesta, San Marcos Nature Center. Workshops, plant sales, displays.

March 29, 2005 Class Meeting: Texas Weather, Troy Kimmel, Chapter 3;

Keying Plants, Jill Harding

April 2, HCMN program: Nature Photography Fundamentals by Linda Durfee. 9:00am to noon, San Marcos Nature Centre and Crook Park. Details below.

April 9, 2005 Class Field Trip to Canyon Gorge, Dr. Carter Kearns

April 12, 2005 Class Meeting: Meet at Freeman Ranch. Impact of Man, Dr. Barron Rector (4:00-6:00 Nature Walk), Chapter 6

April 22, Sixth Annual Ecological Integration Symposium at Rudder Tower,Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. Information & registration: http://symposium.tamu.edu

April 26 to May 1, Nature Quest at Concan, Uvalde & Real counties. Field Trips, workshops, afternoon seminars and evening lectures with outside activities. Information and registration: http://www.thcrr.com/activitiesdata/fieldtrips.html

April 30, 9:00 am - 12:00; 2005 Class Field Trip to Lady Bird Wildflower Center; Wildscaping, Kathy Johnson

May 10, 2005 Class Meeting: San Marcos River Ecology, Dr. Flo Oxley;

Chap 2.19-23, Water in Hays County, Dianne Wassenich

May 14, 2005 Class Meeting: Butterfly Boot Camp at Freeman Ranch, Dr Chris Nice

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)

Aug. 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

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

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

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

December ?, Annual party and presentation of awards

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APRIL 2 PROGRAM

Nature Photography Fundamentals

Making Your Pictures Naturally Stunning;

Tips to Improve Your Photography

Who: Lucy Durfee, Hill Country Nature Photography Club, specializing in nature photography

When: April 2, 2005, 9:00 to 11:00am.

Where: San Marcos Nature Center, 430 Riverside, San Marcos, followed a by guided photography field trip in Crook Park Wildscape Gardens and Rio Vista Park, San Marcos

Bring your camera, some film and a friend to this event! It's your opportunity to learn more about some very basic photographic principals that will improve your picture taking whether you've gone digital or remain with the traditional film format. Do you need to know pixels, sensors and file sizes? It might be easier than you expected to make a few fundamental changes and get many more pleasing results.

Lucy Durfee will offer a free presentation covering some of the fundamental techniques for nature photography. She will show some photos that exemplify the art of good composition, others to illustrate various principles of lighting in natural settings and explain how to select the most appropriate lens for your subject whether it's a gecko, a flower or a butterfly.

The program will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions and then try some of the suggestions during the guided field trip through Crook Park Wildscape Gardens. It will be a perfect opportunity to capture the native wildflowers and some of the flowering shrubs in full bloom! The hike will continue to the San Marcos River where the stunning cypress trees line the crystal clear river just before it dramatically sweeps over the Rio Vista dam and meanders through the tree-lined route along Lucio Park.

The Hays County Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists Chapter presents this program with support from the Hill Country Photography Club and San Marcos Parks & Recreation Department. The mission of the Hays Country Master Naturalists is to provide education, programs and service designed to promote beneficial management of natural resources within our community.

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Annual dues of $12.00 for 2005 are now due. Please make your check to Hays County Master Naturalists. You may also mail your check directly to the Treasurer, Winifred Simon, 600 Red Hawk Road, Wimberley, TX 78676.

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Advanced Training

Seeds of Environmental Education

March 11-13, 2005, at the Outdoor Education Center at Camp Olympia, on the shores of Lake Livingston in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas, approximately twenty miles Northeast of Huntsville, Texas. Presented by Houston ISD Outdoor Education Centers and Texas Association for Environmental Education.

Keynote presenter Dr. Pete Gunter is a University of North Texas Professor and the author of several books, including Texas Land Ethics (with Max Oelschlaeger), The Big Thicket: A Challenge for Conservation, and The Big Thicket: An Ecological Reevaluation. He will speak on environmental education and the land ethics of Aldo Leopold in relation to the Big Thicket. He will also offer a related workshop and a session on ecological songs and stories. Keynote speaker Walt Dabney is Director of Parks for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and he speaks on "The Parks as Classrooms." Other workshops feature expert presenters on topics such as local wildlife and natural history. Recreational opportunities may include birding, canoeing, astronomy, and night hiking, and you will have a chance to share your favorite children's book at the Children's Literature Fair.

Early registration of $100 includes all workshops, keynote presentations, and entertainment, plus five meals and lodging for two nights in bunk-style group housing. Check in Friday evening and Saturday morning. Sessions begin Saturday morning and conclude by noon on Sunday. TEEAC and SBEC credit will be given. Directions and additional information will be sent to you upon receipt of registration. Questions? Contact Mary Gedelian at 1-800-729-6291 or mgedelia@houstonisd.org.

HUMMINGBIRD FESTIVAL

March 19, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm: Texas Tech University Center at Junction.

Kent Rylandaer, Mark Klym, Terry Maxwell, and Dan Brown present workshops on hummingbird anatomy, behavior, migration, nesting sequence, banding methods, and South American biodiversity. Registration: $25.

For information and registration, contact Amanda Camp, tel 325-446-2301; Amanda.camp@ttu.edu; http://www.junction.ttu.edu under Field Research Station.

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Chapter News

FEBRUARY MEETING

COYOTE MANAGEMENT

About 60 Master Naturalists and Driftwood residents came to meet Guest Speaker, Randy Farrar at our February 24 meeting at Friendship Baptist Church. Randy is a Wildlife Damage Management Biologist with the Wildlife Services section of Texas Cooperative Extension.

Randy is currently working with residents of subdivisions in NW Austin and other areas in Travis County who have concerns about the rising numbers of coyotes in suburban Austin.

Randy says that new coyote litters will be born in April, and the number of pups is inversely proportional to an area's coyote population density-perhaps 2 pups in areas of high density versus 12 in low-density areas. Grown pups have to find new homes in unoccupied areas, and they spread into suburbs through greenbelts and the availability of shelter, water, rodents, pets and pet food, and household refuse ensures their prosperity. Suburban coyotes may grow to 30 to 40 pounds, the upper range of coyote size, on much smaller ranges. Moreover, their behavior changes as they become used to human presence and activities. When they lose their shyness and lounge or scrounge openly in daylight, Randy says that is your warning sign of aggressive behavior to come.

Extermination campaigns don't work at this stage, Randy points out, because coyotes are simply too clever and adaptable. Extermination attempts simply replace older coyotes with younger ones who multiply faster. Instead, Randy offers ten suggestions that make the suburbs less hospitable to coyotes.

  • Do not feed coyotes or other wildlife.
  • Eliminate sources of water.
  • Locate bird feeders and deer feeders out of their reach. Store birdseed indoors.
  • Don't throw out edible garbage.
  • Dispose of edible garbage in secure containers and control garbage odors.
  • Feed pets indoors, and clean up pet outdoor leftovers.
  • Trim or clear shrubbery that provides cover for coyotes.
  • Do not leave children unattended.
  • Do not allow pets to run free. Keep them indoors at night. Walk your dog on a leash.
  • Discourage coyotes from visiting your area. Chase them away by shouting or throwing something.

To report suburban coyote sightings, call 3-1-1 and ask for Animal Services. Also, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/fs_wscoyote.html or http://www.fundwildlife.org/coexist/coyotes.html.

To report a coyote attack on a human, please call 911.

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Volunteer Opportunities

San Marcos Nature Center

HCMN Project #405

First Annual Wildflower Fiesta and Plant Sale
March 26 at The Nature Center, San Marcos, 10:00am to 4:00 pm.

Celebrate spring, nature, and gardening
Music and food
Wildscape walk-n-talks
Workshops
Youth activities -- making cone bird feeders, planting seeds, vermiculture

It will be fun! This all-day festival celebrates native plants, gardening, sustainable landscaping, environmental outreach efforts and the beauty of nature.

It is an opportunity to advertise the Master Naturalist program and educate with the rainfall simulator. MN's also can help with the youth activities.

Volunteers are needed:
March 25, 2005 afternoon - help with marking spaces for vendors, setting up tables, just getting ready
March 26, rainfall simulator: 9-10 am set up; 10 am to 4 pm demonstrations in 2-hour shifts; 4 to 5 pm, 4- 5 packing & cleanup.

For more information or to volunteer at a time of your choice, please contact Judy Telford at jtelford@txstate.edu or 512 353-8143.

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.

AQUARENA SPRINGS

HCMN Project # 408

Thanks to our dedicated hyacinth volunteers who tried to work on February 26, a very wet Saturday morning, but ended up by pledging to return in March. It was just too rainy. Mark your calendars for the fourth Saturday every month, and join us for a couple of hours of fun and useful volunteer work, removing water hyacinths and enjoying the beautiful headwaters we are so lucky to have here. Our next workdays are March 26 and April 23.

-- Randy Moss

THE GREAT TEXAS RIVER CLEAN UP

HCMN Project # 407

The 20th Annual Great Texas River Cleanup on Saturday, March 5 is co-sponsored by the San Marcos River Foundation (407). March 5, 2005. Folks from all over Texas will be participating in the
world's longest river clean up. We will be picking up trash along the entire 90-mile length of the San Marcos River.

BANK CREWS
Everyone is urged to help. If you are unable to participate in the water, we need volunteers to work the banks of the river, especially at parks and highway crossings. Scuba divers and snorkelers are also welcome to join in the clean up.

RECREATIONAL PADDLERS
We are asking recreational paddlers and canoe clubs to accept the challenge and volunteer for a section of river. If your group or club has not already been assigned a section, be sure to contact Tom Goynes and tell him what stretch you would like. The upper sections of the San Marcos River, particularly just downstream of the City of San Marcos, will require the most attention, and the short mileages set for these sections reflect this. Furthermore, the river becomes less accessible and more hazardous as one goes downstream. For that reason, novice boaters should volunteer for either section 1 or 2 and more experienced boaters for the other sections.

CAMPOUT AND GET-TO-GETHER
Everyone participating in this event is invited to camp free at either Shady Grove Campground/ Spencer Canoes or at Pecan Park Retreat for the weekend. Starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening there will be a free barbecue provided by the San Marcos River Foundation at Shady Grove/Spencer Canoes.

SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE
There will be a non-denominational Christian worship service at Pecan Park on Sunday morning at 8:00 am.

MEETING TIMES AND SHUTTLES
A group meeting will be held for everyone working sections 3 through 7 at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning at Spencer Canoes. Groups working sections 8 - 11 will arrange their shuttles as early as possible Saturday morning and try to put in the river by 9:00 a.m. Persons working sections 1 and 2 will meet at City Park in San Marcos at 10:00 a.m.

Tom Goynes (coordinator) 512-392-6171; e-mail: mailto:goynes@centurytel.net

RIVER SECTION LISTINGS
1 San Marcos City Park to Thompson's Island (2 miles)
2 Thompson's Island to Pecan Park Retreat (3.5 miles)
3 Pecan Park Retreat to Spencer Canoes (6 mi.)
4 Spencer Canoes to Staples - Hwy 1977 (5 miles)
5 Staples to Fentress - Hwy 20 (9 miles)
6 Fentress to Stairtown (7miles)
7 Stairtown to Luling - Hwy 90 (6.5miles)
8 Hwy 90 to Luling City Park (6 mi.)
9 Luling City Park to Palmetto State Park (14.4 mi.) Texas Canoe Racing Assoc.: Ginger Turner mailto:gingerct@juno.com
10 Palmetto State Park to Gonzales Hwy 90A (14.8 miles)
11 Gonzales 90A to Gonzales 183 (10 mi.)

Extension Needs Volunteers for Wildlife Camps

The Texas Cooperative Extension Service is looking for adult volunteers for Texas Brigades, educational programs that focus on game animals to teach young people about wildlife conservation.

The Brigades feature four different programs: Bobwhite Brigades (quail), Buckskin Brigades (deer), Feathered Forces Brigade (quail and turkey) and the Bass Brigade (largemouth bass).

Volunteers are "not expected to be experts in wildlife management, though some are," said Dale Rollins, Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist and originator of the camps. "They just have to like kids and
appreciate the value of hard work."

Each camp consists of 4 1/2 days of intense, interactive learning. The camps, now in their 13th year, limit enrollment to 30 youth each.

This year's camps are:
-- Bass Brigade, 2nd Battalion, McKinney Roughs, Bastrop, June 4-8;

-- South Texas Buckskin Brigade, 6th Battalion, La Bandera Ranch, Carrizo Springs, Junbe 12-16;

-- Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade, 13th Battalion, Krooked River Lodge, Lueders, June 18-22;

--South Texas Bobwhite Brigade, 8th Battalion, 74 Ranch, Pleasanton, June 26-30;

-- North Texas Buckskin Brigade, 4th Battalion, Stasney's Cook Ranch, Albany, July 17-21; and

-- Feathered Forces, 8th Battalion, Pineywoods Conservation Center, Lufkin, July 24-28.

The Extension Service sponsors the wildlife camps in cooperation with Texas A&M. Application forms and information for both youths and adult leaders are available at www.texasbrigades.org.
For more information contact Dale Rollins at 325-653-4576.



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State News


OdonataCentral Updated

and now Hosts DSA Website

Hey, Dragonfly lovers, OdonataCentral has moved! The new url is http://www.odonatacentral.com. Perhaps most importantly, I have completely overhauled and updated the site. It now contains nearly 2,000 photos (most new to the web) of 336 species, including many larval photos, and an on-line field guide that covers 312 species. I have plans to expand both of these.

--Winnie Spitz--Capital Area Chapter

Texas Monarch Watch

Biologists, conservationists, and butterfly lovers in the US and Mexico are fretting and arguing about the plunging numbers of monarch butterflies returning to their winter refuges in the temperate oyamel fir forests of Michoacan, central Mexico.

Entomologists led by Dr. Lincoln P. Brower of Sweetbriar College estimate the number reported in Mexico's sanctuaries has plunged by 75% from the winter of 2003-2004. Logging and clearing of the lower slopes at El Rosario, the principal sanctuary, has forced these survivors to cluster at higher altitudes than previously, making them more susceptible to freezing weather. An estimated 65 million butterflies died when snow covered El Rosario in 2002. For a graph of Monarch numbers and mortality due to freezes by "Journey North", please refer to http://www.learner.org/jnorth/images/graphics/mexico/pop_9495_0405_storms.gif. Brower and his colleagues attribute the decline in Monarch numbers to weather, herbicide use in the US and Canada, and illegal deforestation in Mexico.

An Associated Press report from Mexico City says Mexico is cracking down harder on the illegal loggers who are razing the nation's forests, including El Rosario. Environment Minister Alberto Cardenas said that Mexico arrested 103 people in 129 forest raids over the past six months -- compared to just 31 arrests in all of 2003 -- and secured the equivalent of 1,530 truckloads of illegally harvested lumber. The ministry, which estimates Mexico is losing 1.3 million acres of forest each year, will also use its bigger budget to step up surveillance in 2005 using helicopters, small planes, satellite images and troops, and will start using a nationwide database.

"We are expanding the scheme and making use of information and experience from 2004, and we will advance, on the path to 2006, towards the elimination of illegal logging," Cardenas told a news conference. "Three years ago we had a budget of 200 million pesos ($17.9 million) (to protect) the forestry sector, now we have a budget of more than 2 billion pesos," said Manuel Reed, director general of national forestry commission CONAFOR.

Eduardo Ramirez, director of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, points out that many other factors besides deforestation could explain why there are there fewer monarchs-pesticides, bad weather en-route, predation, or climate change. "We do not know which ones are most important. We want to find out what is to blame and in what proportion so we can try to reverse this trend." Many biologists attribute the decline of monarchs to agricultural pesticides sprayed on fields adjacent to milkweed plants in the US and Canada, killing monarch larvae.

Chip Taylor informs TP&W that the official total area occupied by over-wintering monarchs in Mexico is 2.19 hectares (5.4 acres), the lowest area since population surveys began in 1975. A crew led by Eduardo Rendon of World Wildlife Fund Mexico conducted the survey. Michoacan's El Rosario colony accounts for 1.3 ha, or 59% of the total. Taylor has given up making population estimates based on the available information on the numbers of monarchs per hectare. These numbers range from 10 to over 50 million per hectare. Assuming the butterflies survived February without a catastrophe, Taylor projects that there will be enough monarchs to recolonize the US and Canada.

For additional news, please refer to http://tinyurl.com5hbjn. For weekly updates on 2005 Monarch migrations, please see http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/spring2005/News.html. The Brower report is available in pdf format at http://www.MonarchWatch.org/update/2005/0221_Sci_Adv_Rpt_11.pdf.

Thanks to Mike Quinn, Entomologist, TP&W and Texas Monarch Watch, http://www.TexasEnto.net/dplex.htm.

Chimney Swift Sightings

The first Chimney Swift of 2005 was spotted in Houston on February 21. Paul and Georgean Kyle are again tracking the northward movement of Chimney Swifts with spring. Please let them know when you see your first Chimney Swifts this year.

Paul D. & Georgean Z. Kyle, Driftwood wildlife Association, 1206 West 38th #1105, Austin, TX 78705; 512-266-3861; http://www.chimneyswifts.org.

Local News

The Village of Wimberley has announced its decision to complete its purchase of the former Blue Hole campgrounds on Cypress Creek. The city anticipates closing the deal by the end of March.

Wimberley resident Peter Way bought the property on behalf of Wimberley in December 2003, in order to forestall its sale to a developer who proposed to build a lodge and up to 380 residential units. Wimberley plans to reopen the swimming hole as a public recreational facility and to maintain the rest of the property as an undeveloped nature preserve. The property adjoins the Cypress Creek Nature Trail, which is Wimberley's first park and an HCMN project.

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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