Tag Archives: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Today in Texas History – March 1

Legend states Tonkawa Indians named this popular 425-foot pink granite batholith, believing a Spanish conquistador cast a spell on it, making magical ghost fires glow at the top.

From the Annals of Granite –  In 1978, the Nature Conservancy bought Enchanted Rock for $1.3 million.  The NC saved the property from a planned development and then deeded the  natural treasure to the State six days later.  The top of the granite monolith north of Fredericksburg stands at an elevation of 1,825 feet and rises about 425 feet from the base.  Some say it takes its name from the mysterious sounds that the heating and cooling rock reportedly makes.  Another legend states that Tonkawa Indians gave it this name believing that a Spanish conquistador cast a spell on it, making magical ghost fires glow at the top.   The site reopened as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in March 1984.  The area includes Enchanted Rock, Little Rock and Buzzard’s Roost and features over 11 miles of trails.

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Today in Texas History – July 21

A photo of Solitario Peak in Big Bend Ranch State Park

From the Annals of the Big Parks – In 1988, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission purchased Big Bend Ranch in Presidio County to form Big Bend State Natural Area now known as Big Bend Ranch State Park. The acquisition of the 311,000 acre ranch more than doubled the amount of park land under state control.  The park offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and boating on the Rio Grande and even has a 5500 foot landing strip.

Photo of Solitario Peak from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Birds Gone Wild

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The Great Texas Birding Classic celebrates its 20th version this year.  The event has changed over the years, but it is a great opportunity for the amateur birder to strut his or her stuff.  The Palestine Herald Tribune has the details.  The event is open to anyone and you can sign up here.  The deadline is April 1, so don’t miss out on the worm.

Next month, hundreds of birders will flock to the coast, forests, prairies and mountains of Texas to compete in the nation’s biggest, longest and wildest bird watching tournament. The registration deadline for the 20th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, which runs from April 15 to May 15, is April 1.

Since the Classic started 20 years ago, a lot has changed. The competition has expanded statewide to record participation, and it’s no longer just for experts since new categories appeal to budding naturalists and avid birders alike.

Competitors can choose from more than 40 tournament categories to test their birding skills, participating for as little as half a day or as long as a week in a statewide tourney. Participants form a team and compete in such categories as the Big Sit!, in which birders must remain within a 17-foot-diameter circle to count their birds. Other categories include a sunrise-to-noon event, youth-only tournaments, a human-powered contest and one tournament held entirely within Texas state parks.

Today in Texas History – March 1

From the Annals of Geologic Formations –  In 1978, The Nature Conservancy bought Enchanted Rock from the Moss family for $1.3 million.   The purchase kept the property preserved for posterity.  Various plans had been floated for the site including turning it into a real estate development or quarry.  The Moss family wanted the site preserved but the state of Texas lacked the funds or the willpower to purchase the Rock. TNC deeded the property to the State six days after the purchase.  The site was closed to the public for several years and reopened as the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in March of 1984.

The granite pluton batholith near Fredericksburg rises to an elevation of 1825 feet and is formed from some of the oldest rock on the planet.  The Rock has long been a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing and camping.   The weathered dome, standing above the surrounding plain is known to geologists as a monadnock.  Archaeological evidence indicates human visitation at the rock going back at least 11,000 years. The  name “Enchanted Rock” is derived from Native American legend which attributed magical and spiritual powers to the high ground.

Red first visited the then private park in 1967 and has been back dozens of times since then.  It is a must see for all Texans.

They Wondered Why the Hogs Seemed so Happy

A substantial marijuana growing operation was discovered by hog hunters searching for the destructive pests in the Cooper Wildlife Management Area north of Dallas.  The crop value may have been as much as $6 million. OutdoorHub blows the lid off this one, weeds through tea details to hash out the essential facts and tries to pot this discovery in perspective.

Officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife announced last week that officers raided a large and sophisticated marijuana growing facility in the remote swamps of northeast Texas. About 80 miles north of Dallas and inside the 14,480-acre Cooper Wildlife Management Area, several hog hunters stumbled into a sprawling marijuana farm that held more than 6,500 mature plants.

Texas officials said that if not for the occasional report from hikers, hunters, and other adventurous outdoorsmen, many of these operations would never be found. Even so, illegal marijuana cultivators have learned to avoid the most popular hunting seasons.

“They would’ve folded up shop by October 1 ahead of archery deer season opening, but obviously didn’t figure in the opening of teal and feral hog hunting season in mid-September,” said Texas game warden Steven Stapleton.

The destruction to the habitat and the damage these people did to the environment is probably the worst part,” said Texas Game Warden Chris Fried. “They cut mature hardwood trees, including a pin oak that was at least five foot in diameter, and cleared parts of a levee that will take many years to recover. The chemicals they sprayed, insecticides and pesticides that contaminated the soil and eventually run off into the streams will have lasting impacts.”