All posts by Dan Galewsky

The CAMN Chapter Apparel Shop is Open Again!

The CAMN Chapter Apparel shop is open again!

There are a variety of styles, sizes, and colors available for purchase, including embroidered shirts, vests, caps, hats, patches, and even a soft-side cooler with the CAMN logo! Orders may be placed until 11:59 pm on March 30th, and 15% of net sales are contributed to CAMN to support CAMN programs.

You can place your order here

The CAMN Chapter Apparel shop is open for orders!

The CAMN Chapter Apparel shop is open for orders!

There are a variety of styles, sizes, and colors available for purchase, including embroidered shirts, vests, caps, hats, patches, and even a soft-side cooler with the CAMN logo! Orders may be placed until 11:59 pm on November 30th, and a portion of the sales proceeds will be used to support CAMN programs.

You can place your order here

Madrone Canyon Hike on May 6, 2017

It was comfortably cool, bright, and dry for our hike on May 6. Lots of plants are blooming now: Engelmann’s Sage (Salvia engelmannii ), Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa ), Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), and Devil’s Shoestring (Nolina lindheimeriana), and the Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa) on the east side of the Canyon is putting on seed pods that look like star fruit.

The visitors this morning raised questions that led to the telling of two stories related to the Canyon. The first question was about the old Nike missile site in the very near vicinity. During the cold war, Austin was considered a high priority target because of its two airports. To provide air defense of Bergstrom Air Force Base, United States Army Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missile sites were constructed during 1959. One of two Nike missile sites in the Austin area, BG-80,was located on the hill just east of the Canyon. After the missile site was shut down, the property was given to the University of Texas System and is now the UT Bee Caves Research Center.

The other question arose when I pointed out the grapevine (Vitis cinerea, synonym Vitis berlandieri) growing on a small juniper near the Canyon rim, telling the visitors that “this was the Texas grapevine that saved the French wine industry.” In 1880, the phylloxera insect was destroying the vineyards of France. The French scientist Pierre Viala was named to find a way to save the vineyards. Viala came to Denison, Texas and met with Thomas Volney Munson. Because Munson knew the Texas rootstocks were resistant to phylloxera, he suggested that the only way to save the French vineyards was to graft the Texas rootstocks with the French vines. Viala agreed and Munson organized the collection of thousands of bundles of dormant stem cutting from native grapes in Central Texas and shipped them to France. The vines were the breeding stock for the rootstocks which saved the European wine industry. For this effort, the French government awarded Munson the Legion of Honor, Chevalier du Merite Agricole. The rootstocks used throughout the world today originated in Europe from the Texas native grape material that Munson gathered in Texas.

All are welcome to come on a guided hike through the Madrone Canyon on the first Saturday of any month. For more information, visit http://www.westbanklibrary.com/madrone-canyon.

Inaugural Day at the Vireo Preserve Nursery

Author: Jean Love

The first workday for the Vireo Preserve Nursery, April 3, 2017 was great fun. The fence around the nursery area was completed just last week, and we are ready to continue to build our stock of plants destined mostly for planting in the Vireo Preserve and other parcels of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.  

This morning we made two mother pots, one of white yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and one with a mixture of native wildflowers. The mother pots will be kept in the nursery so we can enjoy the blooms and the butterflies that will come and then gather seeds and cuttings for further propagation.  

We transplanted some native passion vine seedlings (Passiflora lutea) into 4” and 1-gallon pots and put them in a circle of rabbit wire to protect them from predation.

An interesting chrysalis was attached to one of the paper pots and a mushroom was growing from another.

In our version of an Easter egg hunt, we used colored flags to mark plants that are growing up in the mulch in the nursery area so we can try to not step on them.

Vireo Preserve Nursery workdays will be every Monday from 10-12. See the CAMN Weekly Reader for more information.

At the Vireo Preserve on March 5, 2017

(Article by Jean Love. Photos by Marc Opperman)

Volunteers who came to work at the Vireo Preserve on Sunday, March 5 participated in inoculating logs with spores of reishi, oyster, and turkey tail mushrooms.

We had a large group of volunteers, and Jim O’Donnell, biologist with the City of Austin, brought all the tools and equipment: bags of spore-filled sawdust, an electric drill, containers of wax, and colored flags.

The logs to be inoculated had already been placed on the slope where they will slow the flow of rainwater as the mushrooms aid in their decomposition.

To make sure each log was inoculated with only one kind of mushroom, the group was divided into three teams, each with their own pot of wax, bag of spores, and tools. CAMN volunteer Terry Southwell drilled holes in the logs and flagged each log to indicate which type of spore to use. CAMN volunteer Marc Opperman took pictures of volunteers packing each hole with sawdust and then sealing in the spores with a plug of wax. It will take about 8 months for the spores to germinate, for the mycelia to permeate the logs, and for the fruiting bodies—the mushrooms—to appear.

To register to participate in a Sunday or Tuesday land stewardship workday at the Vireo Preserve, visit the City of Austin Wildlands page at http://www.austintexas.gov/water/wildland_vol/index.cfm?action=hike.eventregistration.

The 2017 Bethany 4-H Club Butterfly Garden at Oak Springs Villas

(By Jean Love)

On Saturday, February 25 the Bethany 4-H Club dug and planted the 2017 Bethany 4-H Club Butterfly Garden at Oak Springs Villas. The parent advisor of the 4-H Club, Ms. Valerie Queen, had ordered a butterfly garden kit that included bulbs and roots of several kinds of butterfly host and nectar plants. To get them in the ground as soon as possible, we met at Oak Springs Villas at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and broke ground. Almost as soon as we started, a giant swallowtail butterfly came floating among us in the cool air like a blessing, settling in the sun on the grass near us for a while.

A videographer, Ms. Jaha Wilder, founder of The Young Journey Foundation, came to record our ground-breaking ceremony.

During the day, there were 8 of us working: Mrs. Metria Adams, Mr. Adams, their son Caleb, who is president of the Bethany 4-H Club, their daughter Baushah and son Jordan who are also members of the 4-H Club, and Jean Love. Residents of the Villas would come by to greet, thank, and encourage us from time to time. Ms. Ida Herrera, who had come to visit a relative at Oak Springs Villas, walked over to us in the morning, picked up a shovel, and started helping to remove the grass. By noon we had removed all the grass from the area we had marked and had begun double-digging. Mr. Adams kindly brought us a hearty lunch, and after a bit of a rest, we had the energy to get back to work. In the afternoon, Ms. Connie Boyer, the manager of Oak Springs Villas, joined us to help finish the digging, spread mulch, and water.  Mr. and Mrs. Adams followed the diagram that had come with the butterfly garden kit to help us lay out the bulbs and roots, and at 5:15 p.m., we were planting the last one.

What a joy to be outside working with a delightful group of people, all hands in the dirt, from early morning to late afternoon, watching the sun move west across the sky and the shade of the trees move east on the ground. What a huge sense of accomplishment to have started and finished this big project in one day. Now, all we have to do is watch the garden for signs of life and dream of butterflies to come.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact Jean Love, CAMN volunteer working on this project, at jloveelharim@gmail.com. If you would like to participate in helping the Bethany 4-H Club maintain and keep track of the 2017 garden or help plan and create the 2018 Bethany 4-H Club Butterfly Garden at Oak Springs Villas, please contact Mrs. Adams at 512-909-6593.

Love Notes:Long Canyon

On a cold and gray Saturday morning in December,  Gloria and Robert–volunteers with the City of Austin Wildlands Division– guided us on a hike in the Long Canyon parcel of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, west of 360 and south of 2222.

Rainwater runoff had formed the thick juniper duff into natural berms and swales in several places. Lichens of various colors and shapes decorated the branches and rocks, and patches of bright green star moss grew by the path.

A circle of stones protected a colony of tiny barrel cactus growing right in the middle of the path. One stream crossing had garlands of maidenhair fern, and at another crossing of the same stream, dried brown sycamore leaves floated in a clear blue pool.

To learn about and participate in hikes and other activities organized by the City of Austin Wildlands Division, go to the Wildlands Event Registration page, create a user account, and register for an event in the drop-down menu of scheduled activities.

Hikes in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve are also often posted on the Friends of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve Meetup site.