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

Master Naturalists Abroad

(Or at least outside Austin!)

On April 22 (Earth Day, a super-holiday for conservationists), I had the chance to travel east to the Caddo Lakes region of Texas – nearly Louisiana – and meet up with some of the Texas Master Naturalists in the Cypress Basin Chapter. Their event – the 5th Annual Flotilla held in Uncertain, TX – raises money for their conservation efforts within the lake region, and consists of charity food sales, a silent auction, a scavenger hunt, and a chance to explore their work in maintaining the paddling trails in the lake and bayous surrounding it. I got to paddle around some of the extensive trails through the magical forest, try some local mayhaw jelly, and brought home a gorgeous coneflower grown by a member and sold at the auction for $7 – a bargain for a healthy, 5-gallon plant grown with Master Naturalist love and care.

Continue reading Master Naturalists Abroad

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.

Central Texas volunteers devoted to ecological stewardship, education and outreach.