Right here at home - in the Hill Country!

May, 2005


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

Webmaster Dave Schwarz

Extension Agent Bryan Davis


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

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)

July or August: A day on the San Marcos River with Betty Watkins. Watch for more information about date and arrangements.

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

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


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

$10.00 per person

September 22: HCMN program at Hays County Extension Center.

Watch for more information about speaker and program.

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.


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.


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 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


Chapter News

Honey Creek SNA Field Trip

The morning looked as if we were going to be rained out, but the rain materialized as only a light drizzle for a short period. We were met by our tour leader Holly Camaro, president of the Alamo MN Chapter, who described the history, geology, fauna, and flora of the SNA while we walked the trail through the juniper and live oaks toward Honey Creek.

Where the trail begins in the uplands, the ecosystem is an Ashe Juniper - Live Oak Savanna typical of the Hill Country. The area, like most of Texas, has problems with feral pigs rooting up the plants. Master Naturalist volunteers from nearby have been removing junipers at various locations to promote grass growth.

The group took the opportunity to identify grasses, forbs, and trees along the trek to the creek. On the way, we observed deep lesions in the bark of a large Gum Bumelia tree that had been drilled (sliced) by a hungry Sapsucker. Honey Creek is a tributary emptying into the Guadalupe River on the SNA. The creek is lined with splendid, large bald cypress trees typical of Hill Country streams.

-- report and photos by Tom Watson


Volunteer Opportunities

Wildscape Garden, San Marcos Nature Center

HCMN Project # 405

The bluebonnets have faded and gone to seed since their peak at the time of our Wildlife Photography Workshop on April 2. Poppies, Indian blankets, pink evening primrose, and coreopsis have followed them, but they too will fade. Their successors are sunflowers, horsemint, Mexican Hat, and lizard-tailed gaura, which are fine in their place but tend to sprawl and grow rank, and ruellia, which tends to smother small annuals.

We have a few empty patches too, especially at the west end. We would like to fill them with annuals and perennials that will add color and interest through the year. If you have seeds, bulbs, hardy seedlings, or extra specimens of native plants 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. It's not what you would want for a rose garden, but the bluebonnets don't mind and other attractive native plants may flourish too.

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.

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, ; Todd Derkacz (SMGA), 512-754-9321, ; Jerry Pinnix (Hays Co), 512-393-2212,

HCMN CONTACT: Judy Telford, 512-353-8143, 2303 E McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666,


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 422

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.


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.

Onion Creek Volunteer Work Day

Riparian Habitat Restoration

When: Saturday, May 28, 2005. Arrive 8:30 am; lunch break at 11:30 am; those interested may continue on project after lunch.

Location: WQPL - Onion Creek Management Unit

Task: Remove encroaching Ashe juniper in riparian area

The Details: The goal is to use hand tools to remove young Ashe juniper trees beginning to encroach into riparian area and crowd out native vegetation.

Type of Activity: Hand tools such as bow saws, loppers and handsaws will be used to cut young and encroaching Ashe junipers out of the riparian area. The project location is outside of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan permit area but size of trees will still be limited to less than 4 inches at DBH (4 ½ feet above ground). Those trees at or just less than 4 inches at DBH may be too large to cut with hand tools and will be flagged for evaluation and possible cutting with a chainsaw by WCD staff at a later date.

Safety and Considerations:

Participants should be able to hike over small distances, bend, stoop, and use lopper or a handsaw or be willing to learn.

Activity will occur in cloudy or drizzly conditions, but will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.

Sites are remote without indoor or portable bathroom facilities.

Those with allergies to bee stings or fire ants should be prepared as necessary. Nearest medical facility is approximately 30 minutes away. A first aid kit will be available on site.

Volunteers will potentially be walking through tall grass and along a creek bed (currently dry). Participants will be made aware of possible encounters with snakes, spiders, scorpions and other wildlife.

Participants MUST wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, preferably hiking boots. Participants should wear work-appropriate clothes and dress appropriately for weather conditions including sun protection.

WCD will provide leather work gloves and tools. Participants may bring their own work gloves if they prefer, but gloves must be sturdy enough to provide protection from handling juniper trees. Fabric-covered gardening gloves are not acceptable.

Gatorade and water will be provided. Participants may want to bring their own water bottle that can be refilled and kept with them as they walk.

Participants should bring hats for sun protection, sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, and lunches. A lunch location with bathrooms will be available.

Directions & Map:

The BCP staff lead, Gail McGlamery, will meet volunteers at the entrance gate to the property off of FM 150. For those that get lost or are running late, Gail's cell phone is 914-5743.

Driving directions:
The entrance gate on FM 150 is approximately 3.5 miles east of the junction of FM150 and FM 3237 miles and 5 miles west of the intersection of FM 150 and FM 2770.

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, June 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
For more information contact Dale Rollins at 325-653-4576.

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.


State News


They know their flora and fauna: 3,000 volunteers pay for training, donate to projects, and guide children
By RICHARD STEWART, Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

HUDSON WOODS - Carl Dodson was excited. "That's a purple gallinule," he said, peering through binoculars at a small dark bird picking its waythrough the vegetation on the edge of a lake. "This is the first time I've ever seen a purple gallinule," he said.

"You've probably seen them before lots of times," said Kirby Rapstein, "you just didn't know what you were looking at."

"Well, that's probably true," Dodson admitted with a grin, "but now I can put it on my list."

The two men and two other buddies had come out to the small wildlife refuge near Bailey's Prairie in Brazoria County to get ready for upcoming tours by groups of schoolchildren. Between them, the four could identify practically every tree, bush, plant, bird and animal in the moss-draped forest.

That's not surprising. They are all certified Texas Master Naturalists - a title earned through hours of classroom and field studies on all sorts of natural subjects and by volunteering in various projects.
They belong to Brazoria County's Cradle of Texas chapter, one of 30 chapters around the state of the Texas Master Naturalist program.

Interest in nature
Across the state, about 3,000 volunteers pay their own way through training classes and then volunteer about 85,000 hours doing everything from counting dove calls to leading kindergarten children on hikes.

"This is work we just couldn't do without the volunteers," said Michelle Haggerty, who coordinates the program. The state budget for the program is about $28,000 annually, she said. The work done by volunteers every year is valued at about $1.5 million, she said.

There is a great need for volunteers who know about wildlife and plant life, said Thea Platz, who coordinates nature study programs for San Antonio's North East Independent School District.

In 1997, San Antonio had some wonderful wildlife areas in its city parks, but didn't have the staff to develop them for student use, Platz said. When Debbie Reid came to the city parks department from the Texas Agriculture Extension Agents program, she wondered if volunteers could be recruited and trained similar to that group's Master Gardener program. Reid and Platz started a group that became the state's first Master Naturalist chapter. Now Platz holds the state record for the number of hours volunteered - more than 5,700 hours in all.

The statewide program is sponsored by both the Agriculture Extension Service and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. To become a master naturalist, volunteers must first complete at least 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer work. Every year, each member must get at least eight more hours of advanced training and do at least 40 more hours of volunteering.

People get involved for all sorts of reasons.

"For me it was a red bay tree," Dodson said. He had a tree in his Lake Jackson yard that he couldn't identify. When he heard about the MasterNaturalist training program, he figured he could learn what kind of tree it was. "They gave me the key to bushes and trees in Brazoria County and I've
been hooked ever since," he said. "If I can learn plant identification, anybody can."

More to education
There's more to the art of educating people about wildlife than just knowing what to look for, Rapstein said.

"If you've got a group that doesn't know anything about birds, you might say, there's a red-tailed hawk," he said. "It's a female. She'sgot a brood around here somewhere." His eyes twinkled. "They don't know if you're right or not."

Different Master Naturalist chapters offer training sessions at different times of the year. Brazoria County usually has classes one day a week for 11 weeks each fall. Each half-day of classes is followed by a half day in the field.

Many subjects covered
Although the volunteers usually are interested in particular fields of the natural world - birding, marine biology or forest plants - the classes cover all sorts of subjects.

"You can always tell the naturalist when you've got a bunch of birders," Rapstein said. "He's the one who is way back down the trail behind everybody else looking down at a lizard while they're looking in the trees."

Brazoria County is rich in wildlife habitat, said Al Brushwood, another Master Naturalist. Birds migrating across the Gulf pass through the county by the millions, he said, attracted by the hardwood forests along the Brazos, San Bernard and Colorado rivers.

Local News


The San Marcos Naturescapes Photography Contest is officially underway.

The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and the Hill Country Photography Club have set up a contest that we hope will inspire professional and amateur photographers alike to snap up some of the great visual experiences to be found in our parks and greenspaces. Herb Smith of the HCPC has been very helpful in setting the rules and formatting the event, and Linda Kelsey-Jones has arranged to give us exhibition space in July at the San Marcos Activity Center for selected images.

There are three categories in which to submit: Scenery; Wildlife and plants; and People and pets, with a prize of $100 in each. A Best of Show award will be given with a $200 prize. Winning photos are frequently the work of photographers who may not rate themselves amateurs but who happen to be in the right spot at the right time.

For contest rules and other information, please go to our website (still under construction) at and click on "photo contest." Entries must be received by the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department before 5 p.m. on June 6th. Standard 4"x6" prints, 35mm slides and jpeg or tiff files on CD may be submitted.


Links to Chapter Sponsors and Partners


Texas Master Naturalist - State Website -
Texas Cooperative Extension -
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -


Bamberger Ranch --

LBJ Wildflower Center -- Native Plant Society of Texas -
Texas Cooperative Extension - Sea Grant Program -
Texas Forest Service -
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -
U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service -


© 2005 Hays County Master Naturalists