Sunday, December 27, 2015

More Texas State Parks First Day Fun!

Martin Creek Lake State Park (Tatum) will hold a Stargazing & Happy New Year Party from 11:30pm, 31 December 2015 to 1am on 1 January, 2016, weather permitting. Enjoy viewing stars through a telescope, and sitting around a campfire while drinking hot chocolate! Bring a flashlight. Cooper Lake State Park (Cooper & Sulphur Springs) will host First Day (1 January) hiking, running, biking, and geocaching activities. Don’t miss Galveston Island State Park's (Galveston) First Day beach combing 101, running/jogging, and Heavenly Night Hike events. Government Canyon State Natural Area (San Antonio) is hosting First Day hikes and a bike ride. Sheldon Lake State Park (Houston) is hosting a First Day bike ride.

Geocaching Lessons  Chase A. Fountain, TPWD Copyright

Goose Island State Park (Lamar & Rockport) is hosting a First Day Bird Walk, and Estero Llano Grande World Birding Center (Weslaco) is hosting dragonfly and butterfly walks!

Great Blue Heron  Rahel Eden Copyright

Take a First Day history tour of the grounds of Davis Mountains State Park's (Fort Davis) Indian Lodge.

Indian Lodge    TPWD Copyright

Ray Roberts Lake State Park (Pilot Point & Valley View) is hosting a paddling tour of Ray Roberts Lake. Seminole Canyon State Park (Comstock) is offering a guided pictograph tour to Fate Bell Shelter. Take a First Day cave tour at Kickapoo Cavern State Park (Brackettville) and fish with a ranger at Inks Lake State Park (Burnet).

Seminole Canyon SP Fate Bell Shelter  TPWD Copyright

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Winter Swimming in Austin’s Warm Water Pools!

Whether you live in Austin or are visiting, take advantage of Austin’s outdoor warm water pools! The most famous is the three acre, spring-fed Barton Springs Pool which is generally 68 degrees in winter and up to 72 degrees during the summer months. Take the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Splash at 10am on 1 January, 2016! The spring-fed Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas, maintains a temperature between 68 and 72 degrees year round. The Big Stacy Park Pool originally was filled with spring water from Walsh Springs, Today it receives a mix of city water and 100 degree well water pumped from the Trinity Aquifer. This water combo keeps the temperature around 80 degrees year round! I would do my Polar Bear Splash at this pool! Bartholomew Pool (1800 East 51st Street, 78723) is heated during the winter. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kids Out of School? Got Cabin Fever?

Some Texas areas are enjoying unseasonably warm weather this December. Zoos, aquariums and fish hatcheries are the perfect outing for kids of all ages! And some of Texas’ Fish Hatcheries offer kid fishing! The towns of Houston, Dallas, Austin, Cedar Creek, Lufkin, Waco, El Paso, Tyler, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Gainesville, Brownsville, and Abilene, Texas have zoos! The Austin Zoo has three orphaned baby cougar cubs!

Brownsville Zoo

Aquariums are located at Sea Center Texas Wetlands & Fish Hatchery (Lake Jackson), the World Aquarium and The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park(Dallas), The Edwin Cox Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (Athens), the University of Texas Marine Science Institute Wetlands Education Center (Port Aransas), the Texas State Aquarium (Corpus Christi), the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education Center (Baytown), the  CCA/CPL Marine Development Center (Corpus Christi – Flour Bluff Area), and the Marine Lab Aquarium (Rockport).

Dallas World Aquarium

Texas State Fish Hatcheries include the Edwin Cox Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (Athens),Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery (near Inks Lake State Park), the Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery (below Possum Kingdom Lake Dam), The San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center & Fish Hatchery, and the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery (San Marcos), THE Dundee State Fish Hatchery (Iowa Park), and the John D. Parker East Texas State Fish Hatchery (just east of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir dam.

Iowa Park Dundee State Fish Hatchery

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Perfect Weather & Rio Grande River Flow Conditions to Visit the Texas Big Bend Region!

The months of October through April are the best times to visit the Texas Big Bend Travel Region. The combination of milder weather and this year’s increased flow rate of the Rio Grande River offer fabulous paddling experiences! Grab a kayak, canoe, or raft and head out to enjoy the challenge!! Check out the Rio Grande River paddling trails information on the appropriate outdoor pages of Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. Also, read the parks’ pages and the pages of the nearby towns of Terlingua, Presidio, and Lajitas for information on lodging, food, outfitters, and fun activities! Don’t forget your camera!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let’s Go Fishing for Stocked Trout!!!

Each year the TPWD stocks over 100 Texas small lakes and ponds with catfish and winter rainbow trout. In 2015, rainbow trout stocking began in “Official Urban Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes and Ponds” on November 25h and will continue until March 4th. Check the Stocking Dates for this year’s Neighborhood Fishin’ Ponds located in Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, College Station, Duncanville, Denton, Fort Worth, Katy, Missouri City, Tyler, Waco, and Wichita Falls. Check out the Trout Stocking History of other Texas ponds. Cheese, kernel corn, nightcrawlers, red wigglers, and meal worms make good trout baits. TPWD also teaches kids to fish at KidFish events held throughout the year at these neighborhood locations, and at many other Texas locations. Catfish and other fish are stocked in Texas waters throughout the year. Check the Major Lakes and Bays Stocking History and the Rivers, Small Lakes, and Ponds Stocking History. All these water bodies and stocking histories are listed on the website on each town’s outdoor pages, and on the major lakes’ activities pages (see Main Menu Bar at the top of this page for major lakes).   

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Invasive Giant Salvinia Found in Lake Fork

Invasive Giant Salvinia was recently found in the Chaney Branch of Lake Fork and in a small cove located west of the dam. The Giant Salvinia weed chokes out native vegetation, shades waters and reduces the oxygen level needed for fish. The Sabine River Authority (SBA) and the TPWD physically removed Salvinia plants and have isolated the infested area with a floating boom. TPWD will be spraying the infected area with a chemical treatment. The SBA has also closed the Chaney Point South and Secret Haven boat ramps and is warning boaters to stay away from the above infested areas. Please clean your boat when leaving any Texas water body, and please read the below paragraphs for more information on invasive species. 

Invasive Giant Salvinia Close-Up
Giant Salvinia Adjacent to Chaney Branch's Secret Haven Dock TPWD Copyright

Exotic and invasive fish , shellfish, and aquatic plants are invading Texas’ rivers, lakes, ponds, and the Texas Gulf, and are competing with Texas’ native species for food and space. A sampling of these invasive species that are causing problems in Texas is listed here. The invasive Giant Salvinia, a popular aquarium plant, has been found in Texas in water bodies in Friendswood, Alvin, Houston, League City, Channelview, and Mont Belvieu, and has also been found in Caddo Lake, Sheldon Lake State Park, the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, and Lake Fork. Giant Salvinia spreads rootless in chains on water surfaces and chokes out native vegetation, shades waters and reduces the oxygen level needed for fish. Report all sightings of Giant Salvinia. The invasive Hydrilla plant has invaded Lake Austin, and threatens recreation, navigation, and water intake pipes. The city has stocked the lake with sterile Grass Carp which has reduced the problem. The invasive Plecostomus (Sucker Fish) have also been found in Texas’ water bodies. This is a popular aquarium fish which when released into the wild multiplies fast, and grows large. Another invasive fish is the Lionfish. This fish is also a popular aquarium fish. The fish has few predators and it feeds on small crustaceans and small fish, including snapper and grouper young. Each fish can spawn every four days and produce up to two million eggs a year. In their natural habitat in the South Pacific, natural predators keep the Lionfish population down, but in U.S. waters they have no natural predators. To date, the invasive Lionfish has infected and threatened the waters of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. More recently, invasive Lionfish have been found in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Galveston. NOAA researchers have concluded that the Lionfish can’t be eliminated by conventional methods and the population will continue to grow. Zebra Mussels, an invasive shellfish, have infested several Texas lakes. Zebra Mussels spread by hitching rides on trailers and boats. They spread rapidly in water bodies and damage boats by encrusting hulls, clogging the boats’ water systems, and clogging air conditioners and heads. They cause navigation buoys to sink, and damage city water supplies by colonizing inside water pipelines. They take over habitats from other native species. Zebra Mussels have been found in Lakes Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon, and Belton. There have been isolated infestation cases of them in Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Grapevine, Lake Fork, Lake Tawakoni, the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and Sister Grove Creek. Each mussel can produce up to one million invisible larvae.

On May 22, 2104, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a new regulation requiring all boats operating on Texas’ public fresh waters be drained before leaving or approaching a lake or river in order to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has also enacted regulations making it illegal for boaters to enter or leave North and Central Texas water bodies without draining all water from their boats and onboard receptacles including wells, ballast, and engine cooling water. Boaters should remove all plants, animals, and mud from their equipment, boats and trailers, and thoroughly wash everything, including crevices and hidden areas. Boats and trailers should be allowed to completely dry before entering other waters. If your boat has been in infested waters for extended periods of time, clean it with high pressure water greater than 140 degrees before entering other waters. Click for more information. Fish Aquarium owners can do their part by not dumping aquarium fish and aquarium waters into Texas’ water bodies, and by not flushing invasive species down the commode.

SBA Removing Giant Salvinia From Lake Fork  TPWD Copyright

Lake Fork Chaney Branch Map

Friday, November 13, 2015

Welcome to the Recreation Blog!

On the Recreation Blog you will find information on parks and lakes, outdoor activities, and exciting outdoor events! We are huge supporters of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department so much of the information will pertain to Texas State parklands and activities. Garner State Park’s spring through summer dances, and Palo Duro Canyon State Park’s “Texas” play are two of the most popular and longest running state park events. Garner State Park camping reservations should be made months in advance! The park permits reservations to be made 11 months in advance. Children thrive in the outdoors, and we highly recommend the Texas Outdoor Family Camping Workshops for those new to camping. These fun events teach camping and outdoor skills to families, and provide many great children’s activities! These events are held year round at various Texas Parklands so watch the Schedule  for one taking place in a park near you. November’s camps are being held at Lake Mineral Wells, Dinosaur Valley (Glen Rose), and Pedernales Falls (Johnson City), State Parks.

The dance tradition began during the depression when inexpensive entertainment was the only entertainment people could afford. When the park first opened in 1941, local bands played dance music in the CCC built pavilion. Later a jukebox replaced the bands. Children played at the adjacent miniature golf course. Generations of locals have been attending the dances ever since. The first dance of the season occurs during spring break. Dances are then held every weekend until Memorial weekend. After Memorial Day, dances occur nightly until after the 2nd weekend in August when it occurs on Saturday nights only; Labor Day weekend offers the last dances of the season on Saturday and Sunday nights. Dances begin 30 minutes after dark and end at 11pm. When the park is full, cars are permitted to enter the park as others leave. These dances are extremely popular so if you intend to lodge at the park during the dance season, make your reservations months in advance. 

Garner State Park Hiking  TPWD Copyright

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Pioneer Amphitheater Theater & the Play “Texas:"
This 1,742 seat amphitheater hosts the musical “Texas” which is performed annually from June into August, Tuesday through Sunday evenings. The show features fictional characters acting out the struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas Panhandle. A steak dinner is served on the patio prior to the show. Reservations are highly recommended. For ticket Information and reservations call the Pioneer Amphitheater box office at (806) 655-2181. Tickets may be purchased at the Pioneer Amphitheater box office beginning at 6pm, Tue-Sun. They may also be purchased at the TEXAS Box Office in Canyon on the square at 1514 5th Avenue, or by calling (806) 655-2181.

These workshops are family camping sessions designed to teach camping skills to those who do not know how to camp; everything is provided from tent to broom. Gear includes a coffee pot, dishes, cooking pots, a camp stove, a battery operated fan and lantern, air mattresses, and a tent. Basic skills taught include pitching a tent, making a campfire, cooking on a propane camp stove, geocaching and using a GPS. Wildlife viewing, fishing and kayaking are available depending on the park and its facilities. After making reservations, families will be sent a packet of information which includes a grocery list. Those interested in this program may sign up for E-Mail Updates on Currently Scheduled Workshops. (512) 389-8903. Calendar