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Photos in the June 2016 issue

The Year of state parks

Welcome to our 2016 series: The Year of State Parks. Each month’s cover and lead story will feature one of Texas’ iconic state parks. An accompanying State Parks List will focus on parks across the state that offer similar attractions and activities. This month, we feature Galveston Island State Park and a list of state parks for paddling.


This Month's Features

Galveston Island State Park: Beach Blanket Bounty

Battered by storms, and awash in history, Galveston’s state park beckons beach lovers.

By Melissa Gaskill

Standing where beach meets dunes at the end of a boardwalk in Galveston Island State Park, I almost see the island the way it once was — waves lapping at a broad expanse of beach, grasses rippling in the breeze over low mounds of sand, tall reeds rising behind them and, over it all, an endless baby-blue sky.

In 5,000 years of existence, this barrier island has seen plenty of excitement. Tattooed, nomadic Karankawa Indians, who smeared themselves with dirt and alligator grease to ward off mosquitoes, camped on the island from before the 1500s until their expulsion and disappearance in the mid-1800s. Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his crew likely shipwrecked near here in 1528 en route to Mexico, and the pirate Lafitte brothers landed on the island in 1817 to establish a base of operations. Jean Lafitte, Galveston’s first known European settler, turned the island into a center for smuggling and privateering before leaving in 1820. In 1836, the first government of the Republic of Texas took refuge from the Mexican army here. Four major storms struck between 1867 and 1886; the great storm of 1900 killed at least 6,000 people, prompting construction of the city’s seawall.

(read more)

From Paddles to Pedals

Kayaking anglers use hands-free pedaling to reach fishing hot spots along the coast.

By Dan Oko

“You should have been here yesterday."

These are words an anxious angler never wants to hear. To his credit, guide Mike Morales never says them to me.

But this spring when I meet Morales, who has been leading clients to fish on the Laguna Madre since 2011, and his wife, Sandra, at Bird Island Basin, he finds me caught up in a private reverie over the photos he had sent just the day before of a father-son team with huge grins and a full stringer.

“They were real beginners,” Mike laughs ruefully. “We missed a lot of fish.”

A breeze ruffles the smooth water of the bay as the sun begins its ascent over Padre Island National Seashore. Otherwise, all is silent.

Like most anglers, I am prone to optimism, and Mike, a professional kayak fishing specialist, further boosts my hopes with his purposeful manner. Mike and Sandra ready the Hobies while photographer Chase Fountain and I rig our rods. On their advice, I don a pair of moccasin-like water socks and leave my waders and boots in the trunk of the car. The day is already warming up, and Mike tells us that wading will be strictly optional.

The weather strikes me as another good omen.

(read more)

The Big Stink

Researchers delve into the marvelous, malodorous world of Texas skunks.

By Russell Roe

Nobody ruins a party like a skunk.

When Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mammalogist Jonah Evans came across a road-killed spotted skunk and decided to save the specimen in the freezer at work, his co-workers were less than enthusiastic.

Needless to say, there were no ice cream cakes in Evans’ immediate future.
Evans’ sticky note that said “Do Not Eat” on the skunk’s Ziploc bag wasn’t too funny either.

“All the people at work were frustrated because they wanted to use the freezer, and I just took a long time to hand the skunk off to Bob Dowler,” Evans says.

A year later, he finally got rid of the skunk, though the use of the freezer never quite returned to pre-skunk levels.

Robert Dowler is one of the world’s leading skunk researchers, and he oversees one of the world’s biggest skunk specimen collections. He is a professor at Angelo State University in San Angelo, which, it turns out, is practically the epicenter of skunkdom in Texas.

Texas has five species of skunk — more than any other state — and that makes Texas a darn good place to study skunks, if you’re into that kind of thing. Bob Dowler is.

(read more)

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2015 Hunting Forecast

This year's rains have brought bright prospects for fall hunting. TPWD experts tell us just how good it might be for deer, dove and more in this digital-only magazine extra.

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Keep Texas Wild

It's not just for kids. If you like nature-related topics in an easy-to-read format, you can find three years of our popular Keep Texas Wild issues and the teacher resources to go along with them.

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