‘Aliens watching us’: Meet the shrimp eel, the wriggly, worm-like creature seen burrowing on Texas beaches
One of the Lone Star State’s odd animal inhabitants made its viral internet debut Thursday when a curious Texas beach-goer photographed what appeared to be some sort of half-worm, half-snake creature slithering out from the sandy substrate of a Galveston beach, wriggling for a close-up.
Meet the rain bug, the velvety, red mite building ‘love gardens’ in Texas
One of the Lone Star State’s most adorable insect inhabitants made its viral internet debut Wednesday when a volunteer at Big Bend National Park photographed what appeared to be some sort of dimpled red sack meandering about the park.
Gators and coral snakes and cougars, oh my! 9 dangerous Texas critters you definitely don’t want to mess with
Texas is home to many dangerous critters, both big and small. Here are nine of the most dangerous animals in the state. Oh, and it goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway -- Obviously, you want to steer clear of these creatures if you see them out in the wild or, heaven forbid, in your own home.
Feral hogs and fire ants and slugs, oh my! These are the invasive intruders Texans should keep an eye out for
The federal government defines an invasive species as a “species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
Oh, my stars! These 6 Texas state parks offer stellar stargazing
Like one wildly popular Texas tune goes, the stars at night are big and bright and the prairie sky is wide and high, deep in the heart of Texas. But in Houston and the state’s other big cities? Not so much. Ironically, here in Space city, the solar system’s superior celestial sights elude us and Texas’s famous stars at night remain hidden behind some serious light pollution. Those who want to glimpse a meteor as it streaks across the night sky, gaze in wonder at the Milky Way, pick out a distant planet amid a twinkling sea of stars or simply trace a few familiar constellations, will have to motor a good ways away from as many bright city lights as possible. Basically, you need to find a locale with a low Bortle Scale. What is the Bortle Scale, you ask?
These 4 Texas state parks are ranked among the best in the nation
Want to breathe in the fresh air, stretch your legs, and rejuvenate in the natural world? Consider a trip to one of the Lone Star State’s parks. Vacation rental company HomeToGo recently released its annual list of the 21 best state parks. Four Texas state parks -- Garner State Park (No. 7), Brazos Bend State Park (No. 11), Kickapoo Cavern State Park (12) and Caddo Lake State Park (No. 15) -- clinched a place on the list.
9 state parks in and around the Houston area perfect for a day trip, quick getaway
Do you want to escape the hubbub of the city, maybe grab some fresh air and commune with nature but don’t have enough energy (or vacation days) to trek out to the middle of nowhere? Take a day trip or weekend getaway to one of the many Texas state parks in and around the Houston area.
Texas state parks expand capacity, remove group limits
Texas Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday that parks across the state are beginning to return to normal capacity. “We’re excited to welcome more visitors to our parks,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. Prior to the pandemic, many of the state’s most heavily-trafficked parks enacted capacity limits to ensure they weren’t overrun. “Getting outdoors is essential for people’s physical and mental health, and Texas State Parks play a critical role in meeting this need.”AdDay passes are available for purchase up to one month in advance. Travelers can reserve campsites or buy passes by visiting the State Parks Reservations page or calling 512-389-8900.
The Woodlands Township offering area residents free tree seedlings at drive-thru giveaway Saturday
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – The Woodlands Township will provide tree seedlings to area residents during a drive-thru giveaway Saturday. There, The Woodlands township will distribute twelve different native seedling types on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. The native seedlings offered include:American SycamoreChinkapin OakGreen AshLoblolly PinePossomhaw HollyRed MapleRoughleaf DogwoodSpicebushTexas PersimmonTexas RedbudTulip PoplarWitch HazelUpon entry at the event, residents will receive an order form and a pen. Event volunteers will fill requests based on available inventory. “Since 1977 more than 1.5 million seedlings have been given to attendees to plant in their yards, nearby green spaces and area preserves,” The Woodlands Township wrote of its event.
Oh, deer! The wild reports from last month’s Texas Game Warden Field Notes
Here are some of the wildest reports from November 2020:Lost and FoundTwo Angelina County game wardens responded to a call about a lost hunter in Angelina National Forest. Two Polk County game wardens were on night patrol with their deer decoy “Corby” when Corby caught someone’s eye. The subject also admitted to being charged for spotlighting on a public roadway near the same area a few weeks prior to this incident by a different Polk County game warden. Liar Liar Deer on FireAn Upshur County game warden received a call about two deer carcasses dumped along a shared fence line with a neighbor. Oh DeerA Lavaca County game warden was on patrol when they heard a rifle shot come from an area where they had previously seen deer hunting violations.
Texans’ love of the outdoors has blossomed amid the pandemic
Though they’ve visited state parks before, the anxieties of quarantine motivated them to get outside more. I left Laguna Atascosa and headed north to the final stop on my road trip, Caprock Canyons State Park. The cap on state park visitors has helped prevent the park from getting overwhelmed, but it has been busy nevertheless. HOW TO VISIT PARKS SAFELYMake reservations online: Almost all state parks are open with limited capacity. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends making advance reservations on its website, tpwd.texas.gov.
2 ways to expand your horizons on Texas private lands
I’ve booked a night at Hudspeth River Ranch via Explore Ranches, an online platform that offers guests overnight stays at top-tier private ranches in Texas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. Explore Ranches’ properties tend to run more expensive due to the size of the accommodations and the various optional amenities. As kids, Sarah and Abbey Strunk sipped the waters that bubbled from the limestone creekbed on their family’s Hudspeth River Ranch. Kleberg, Explore Ranches’ co-owner, has a personal connection to this mission. If you want to protect Texas land, you need to collaborate with landowners.
Not wild pigs: In appreciation of javelinas, iconic native wildlife of Texas
“I remind people that javelinas are not dangerous,” says Raymond Skiles, a retired Big Bend National Park wildlife biologist. Over the decades, their range has receded to the South Texas brush county, the western Edwards Plateau and the Trans-Pecos. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which has conducted aerial surveys of javelina populations, Texas harbors about 200,000 javelinas. Despite these threats, “javelinas are doing very well in South Texas,” says Chico Barrera, a Kingsville-based TPWD natural resources specialist. The javelina is also a cultural icon in South Texas, starring as the official mascot for Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s athletic programs.
These 7 less-visited Texas state parks offer solitude during COVID-19
With COVID-19 pushing many people to seek respite in the outdoors, state parks across Texas are more popular than ever. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has worked to control crowds by limiting capacity and requiring advance bookings. If you’re looking to steer clear of the most popular parks and find an outdoors escape, consider these seven state parks, which according to TPWD are some of the least-visited in the system. Annual visitors: 5,929Located near Devil’s Sinkhole is Kickapoo Cavern State Park, characterized by scrub-covered limestone hills and plenty of wildlife. At the edge of the Big Thicket just 10 miles north of Beaumont, the state park features fishing, biking, birding, and camping opportunities along the free-flowing creek.
Houston field trip: Explore the Cockrell Butterfly Center and plant your own garden
Since school is a little different this year… we’re posting an idea for a Houston-area (socially distanced, parent led) field trip each week. In this field trip, visit the butterfly-filled rainforest and plant your own garden! Resources:Activities:Houston Museum of Natural Science (Jill Jarvis)Plant a Butterfly GardenAs part of your lessons, plant your own butterfly garden! Cockrell Butterfly Center (Jill Jarvis)Cockrell Butterfly Center – Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston,Texas 77030Visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center and Brown Hall of Entomology! Even though the Houston Museum of Natural Science is a popular museum, we did not find many people at the Butterfly Center on our recent trip.
Where to see Fall foliage in Texas
The fall foliage season is upon us, providing colorful scenery in every region of Texas. The latter park’s website notes fall color is coming slightly earlier this year because of cold weather in September. East Texas provides plenty of opportunities for fall foliage lovers, with its heavily wooded areas. David Creech, director of SFA Gardens, notes the best time to see the Japanese maples in fall color is the end of November and early December. Finally, fall foliage in the Lower Rio Grande Valley usually doesn’t arrive until December and goes into January.
Find elusive nilgai roaming at King Ranch in South Texas
They’re from India and Pakistan, so the sight of them grazing along the coastal prairies of South Texas may seem incongruous. The vast majority of these nilgai are descended from animals introduced on the legendary King Ranch in nearby Kleberg County. In 1924, Caesar Kleberg, the head of King Ranch, was deep into a long-term wildlife restoration project on his range. King Ranch is a vast collection of land—at 825,000 acres, it’s larger than Rhode Island. “We do roughly 400 commercial hunts a year.”After decades in South Texas, the animals have left their mark on the ranchlands.
The surprising popularity of carp fishing in Texas
Fairchild, an Austin school teacher, is hooked on carp fishing. But some wrongly believed carp threatened native species, and the commission was abolished four years later, according to Aaron Reed’s book, Fly Fishing Austin & Central Texas. Today non-native common carp are ubiquitous in lakes and rivers across the state, and carp fishing has grown in popularity. Both Fairchild and Fenner, who works as a fishing guide, practice what’s called Euro-style carp fishing. If you’re looking for a guide, check with Austin Carp Angler, whose members can show you the basics.
What you need to pack to have a perfect backpacking excursion at Texas trails and state parks
I’ve backpacked the John Muir Trail—a 200-mile route through California’s Sierra Nevada—along with routes in Montana, and of course, my home state of Texas. But Texas also offers scenic backpacking opportunities in centrally located parks like Lost Maples State Natural and Pedernales Falls State Park. Your list of essentials should include cookware, a campstove (I use one a Snow Peak Gigapower the size of a Snickers bar) and fuel; a filtration system to purify water; water bottles or bladders; a headlamp; matches; first-aid; hand sanitizer; small knife; toilet paper; and sunscreen. Freeze-dried meals are light and packed with the calories and sodium you need if you’re hiking all day. Colorado Bend State Park has walk-in sites .6 miles from a parking lot, and Pedernales Falls State Park has spots a 2-mile hike in.
When it comes to storms and protecting your home, err on the side of caution: We’ll tell you how
But regardless where you’re located or what types of weather your region regularly experiences, it’s always best to remain vigilant. When it comes to hurricanes and big storms, there’s always so much talk about how to prepare the insides of our homes. Therefore, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, he added. “There’s nothing wrong with being too careful.”So, the next time a big storm’s coming to town, walk around the exterior of your house, your property or your yard. You could even turn this into a project, moving just a few belongings a day, leading up to the storm.
My Favorite Texas Trip: Natures gifts in Lost Maples State Natural Area
My trip to Garner State Park and Lost Maples State Natural Area in the fall of 2019 proved I was wrong on all counts. In the afternoon, we made the short drive to use our day pass at Lost Maples. Yet all of this was eclipsed by an even more breathtaking place: the Lost Maples gift shop. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a number of excellent gift shops, many run by volunteer groups, but nothing could have prepared us for the fashion finds at Lost Maples. This gift shop had a collection of T-shirts with a delightfully 90s logo reading LOST MAPLES with colorful embroidered leaves.
ESSAY: Why Hermann Park Conservancy President Doreen Stoller loves Houston and Hermann Park
Doreen Stoller is President of the Hermann Park Conservancy. Each morning a group of gentlemen who have been friends for decades greet me as I arrive to my office at Hermann Park Conservancy. Hermann Park Conservancy’s master plan was designed to create a space where all people would be welcomed, and where they could connect with nature and with one another. I love many things about Houston. Hermann Park is here and we are open for Houston.
Everything you need to know to experience the best stargazing in Texas
To experience the best stargazing on a campout, Katie Raney, a regional interpretive specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, recommends getting away from any kind of light—such as lanterns, restrooms, or street lights—and finding an open area. Good options include South Llano River and Guadalupe River state parks, which are relatively near San Antonio and Austin; Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Mineral Wells state parks in the DFW area; and Brazos Bend and Lake Somerville state parks near Houston. Eakins says her favorites Enchanted Rock, Pedernales Falls, Garner, and Davis Mountains state parks. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Dark Skies: A website about the agency’s efforts to control light pollution and preserve night skies. EarthSky Tonight: A daily guide to what you can see in the night sky.
YMCA reimagines camp, catering to families during COVID-19 pandemic
TRINITY, Texas – The coronavirus pandemic put a halt to almost all summer activities, including many camps for children. YMCA’s Camp Cullen, about 90 miles north of Houston in Trinity made the difficult decision to cancel in late May. Later this year, families can sign up for theme weeks like “Fall Festival,” “Halloween” and “Winter Wonderland” Family Camp. The YMCA hopes to keep Family Camp running through the end of 2020 to help make up for the organization’s budget shortfall. Here’s a description from the YMCA of what Camp Cullen normally offers:“Camp Cullen offers boys and girls ages 7-17 the experience of a lifetime.
5 overwhelmingly beautiful scenic spots in the Houston area
The museum, chartered in 1938 to “preserve and revisualize the history of early Texas,” spans more than four centuries of early Texas history, from the beginnings of European activity in the New World through Texas’ history as a state in the United States. Fun fact: As you likely know, everything’s bigger in Texas, and the San Jacinto Monument is no exception. Each year, it’s the sight of dozens of major Houston events, including the city’s annual Freedom Over Texas firework show. The park’s massive appeal is credited in large part to its sweeping panoramic views of the downtown Houston skyline. Fast fact: The park was named in honor of the late city councilmember and civic activist, Eleanor Tinsley.
This Houston-based store has big savings on summer and winter sport gear
The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsored article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies. HOUSTON – Whether you’re planning a summer camping trip or winter ski trip, you’ll need the right gear for your next adventure. Jimmy Boyle, with Houston-based Sun & Ski Sports, shares details on the big sales happening now to help you prepare for the great outdoors and year-round activities including ski, snowboard, bike, run, swim and more. Sun & Ski Sports 40th anniversary sale and Christmas In July Ski Sale are available in stores and online, now through July 20.
6-year-old angler hooks long-lost cell phone
A long-lost cell phone is back with its owner after spending nearly a year at the bottom of Maryland's Severn River. The phone, inside a waterproof case, was 6-year-old Reagan Votaw's first catch during a recent fishing outing. The family took the phone home, cut it out of its now clam-encrusted case and worked to dry it out. That owner turned out to be 8th grader Preston Shapiro, who lost the phone while kayaking with a friend. “What surprised me most was that i had no idea that this thing was going to work,” he said after being reunited with the phone.
Here’s why your pool needs an upgrade before 2021
The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsored article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies. HOUSTON – If you have a pool at home during times of social distancing, you’re aware that your backyard oasis is a total lifesaver. Gregory Balderaz, senior repair technician with Manning Pool Service, is sharing maintenance tips, ways to save money and new regulations that pool owners need to know, in the video above. Manning Pool Service, which has been maintaining Houston pools for 20 years, can help pool owners in need of new variable speed pumps.
Heres where you can go to spot these wild animals of Texas
By then, I had developed a pretty good eye for spotting Texas wildlife and my newly acquired skills translated surprisingly well to the East African landscape. The Texas terrain was just as beautiful and mysterious as the Serengeti; only the animals had changed. The state offers many places to view wildlife, including state and national parks, state wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, and Nature Conservancy lands. The good news is theyre finally repopulating Texas waters.The green turtle is just one of five sea turtle species that regularly visit the states coastline. Prairie dog populations once spread across most of West Texas, including a 25,000-square-mile town with over 400 million prairie dogs.
Find comfort in the sights and sounds of Texas: De-stress with these 35 soothing nature videos
Are you struggling with stress and need a quick diversion? Take a beat. Embark on a virtual visit into nature and explore a corner of the Lone Star State different than your own with these soothing videos. Whether you listen to birds chirp in a field of bluebonnets , watch the sun rise in West Texas or take virtual walk along Jamaica beach, these videos will offer you a calming break during a stressful time. Find comfort in these sights and sounds of Texas.
SUPPORT LOCAL: The owner of this RV says he doesn’t know how he’ll survive as he was counting on his rentals to carry him through the year
HOUSTON – Support Local spotlights individual businesses challenged by the coronavirus pandemic and offers ways you can support them. We asked Houston businesses to share their story with us including how the public can help them. Here, we include their stories and how Houston residents can continue to support them during this time. “Now I don’t know how I am going to survive the rest of the year as I was counting on the rentals to carry me through the year. To view a list of other Houston businesses you can support, click here.
SUPPORT LOCAL: Get to know Old 18, a high-end fishing rod shop, owned by a Navy SEAL and Top Gun fighter
HOUSTON – Support Local spotlights individual businesses challenged by the coronavirus pandemic and offers ways you can support them. We asked Houston businesses to share their story with us including how the public can help them. What is Old 18? Old 18 is a manufacturer of high-end fishing rods. Where is Old 18 located?
Only in Texas: 7 beautiful river photos of the Lone Star State that make us miss days outdoors
Outdoor water activities are some of Texans’ favorites. Whether it’s kayaking, fishing, or floating the river in a tube. Right now, things aren’t really the way they used to be. Texans have to be huddled up indoors, so for the meantime, enjoy these photos of some Texas rivers. Brazos RiverBrazos River (wacoheartoftexas.com)Frio RiverFrio River (visituvaldecounty.com)Rio GrandeRio Grande (Wikimedia Commons)Nueces RiverNueces River (VRBO)Pecos RiverPecos River (PHOTOGRAPH BY KENNY BRAUN)Red RiverRed River (Republic Ranches)Sabinal River
Ask 2: Are golf courses included in the mandatory closures?
As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. The question: Are golf courses included in the mandatory closures? The answer: Golf courses in Harris County are allowed to stay open, but driving ranges must close, according to the county’s website. The use of shared gear and equipment such as golf carts, rakes and flagsticks is not allowed. Harris County residents who have any questions relating to the stay-home-work-safe order issued by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo can email their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas wild snakes: Lessons for living alongside the venomous and non-venomous predators
Not to mention, toxins drawn from venomous snakes have been developed to treat medical conditions such as heart disease and arthritis. But you’re probably going to suffer a lot.”As houses, schools, and shopping centers spread across snakes’ natural habitat, unsuspecting people like me increasingly fall victim to venomous snakes. Snakes 101Be aware that venomous snakes can be close by even though you don’t see them. Similarly, several species of harmless water snakes are frequently mistaken for venomous water moccasins. Know your snakesTexas is home to four venomous snakes: copperheads, rattlesnakes, water moccasins (aka cottonmouths), and coral snakes.
You should see this 7 foot, 190 pound alligator gar this Needville teen caught near the Brazos River
When Jack Pytel of Needville went fishing with his friends at a ranch at a runoff from the Brazos River, little did he know that he would bring home more than just catfish. Pytel, 17, and his friends caught in Fort Bend County a 7 foot, 7 inch alligator gar, weighing 190 pounds with a rod and reel. Using chicken liver as his bait, he knew from the start that he was catching something bigger. “I called out my buddies to help out by catching the gar,” he said, “I didn’t realize what it was until after a half-hour later it jumped out of the water.”Jack Pytel with his alligator gar. (Courtesy of Jack Pytel)According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, alligator gar are usually docile and not a threat to humans, although documentaries and TV shows have dramatized their behavior.
A Memorial Park makeover: Houston is working to improve one of the nation’s largest urban parks
And now the city is channeling its self-improvement impulse to Memorial Park, a 1,500-acre green space near the center of town. The nonprofit Memorial Park Conservancy—in partnership with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Uptown Development Authority, and Kinder Foundationis—is in the midst of a $200 million Memorial Park Master Park with capital improvement projects slated through 2028. The city established Memorial Park in 1924 with bridle paths, a golf course, and hiking trails. Over the years, the park gained a golf course, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, and a nearly 3-mile running loop. Today, Memorial Park ranks among the largest within a U.S. urban center (nearly twice as large as New York’s Central Park) and draws about 4 million visitors a year.
What to know before you go: Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Across from the Galleria’s tallest building, William’s Tower, is Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. Williams Tower (Jill B. Jarvis)Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park (Jill B. Jarvis)This park does not have a playground, but is a great place for a picnic. Williams Tower parking garage (Jill B. Jarvis)The only thing tricky with this park is parking. The Galleria Mall Nordstrom parking garage is a block away and is free. A closer option is the Williams Tower parking garage, with starts at $3 for 30 minutes.
Photos: 47 fishing records broken in Texas in 2019
SAN ANTONIO – Dozens of Texans reeled in large hauls in 2019 — a year that Texas Parks and Wildlife called “great” for fishing. Fishermen and women broke 47 new state fishing records in Texas this year, according to TPWD. For individual lakes, rivers or bays, 434 waterbody records were broken. 200-plus-pound fish swim in Texas rivers, some over 50 years oldFishermen and women must measure and weigh their catch, take several photos and complete the application. “We are happy to recognize great catches even when they may not have set a new record.”Here’s a list of fishing records broken in 2019, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife.