Meet the Webmasters of CAMN

Every week the members of CAMN volunteer their time in support of the great conservation and education work being done throughout the parks and natural areas of Travis County. The coordination of these efforts is no small feat! There is a team of CAMNers working behind the scenes every week to make sure that all your digital resource and website needs are available and up to date.

When prospective naturalists go through the application process for CAMN, the tech team creates and manages the online application and provides support for applicants. Throughout the training year, the tech team works with the class coordinators to provide an online resource for class schedules and training information.
More recently, the tech team has made a big effort to provide more content for CAMN members on the website through regular blog posts and an up-to-date calendar featuring volunteer and advanced training opportunities.

Of course, there are also a slew of small tech tasks that CAMN needs for day to day management: email aliases, website hosting, all that fun stuff. But don’t be fooled by their technical prowess, the tech team – Dan Galewsky and Leslie Lilly – still prefers to spend most days out in the woods.

To reach them and say “hello” email communications@camn.org.

Join us at the next Communication Team meeting to learn how you can help with CAMN’s website, social media, and the Reader:

Saturday, September 7th | 3:00pm – 4:30pm @ Cherrywood Coffeehouse

To get involved in other ways behind the scenes with CAMN attend the next Chapter Board meeting (open to all members): 

Thursday, September 12th | 6:30pm – 8:00pm @ the Austin Nature & Science Center

Taking the Pulse of the Colorado River

At 8:00 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month, naturalists, birders, citizen scientists and river-lovers meet at the Hornsby Bend CER. From there, the group caravans to the set-in and take-out points of a selected portion of the 60-mile stretch of the Colorado River between Austin and Bastrop. For thirteen years this group of regular, occasional and new participants have surveyed the flora, fauna and flow of the river to evaluate and document the health of its ecosystem. Over the years, the group has seen the river change. They have identified and mitigated illegal dump sites, unauthorized draining from and discharging into the river, changes in the cut and deposition banks, and have seen native mussels, beavers and otters return to the river.

On July 6th, thirteen adventurers set out to conduct the 158th survey; they traveled an eight mile stretch of the Colorado River from Austin’s Colony to Little Webberville Park. They counted forty-one bird species and saw wildflowers, turtles, butterflies, damselflies and a coyote. They saw evidence of otter and beaver activity but did not see the critters. Maybe next time!

These surveys are conducted by the Austin – Bastrop River Corridor Partnership (ABRCP). This partnership was founded in 2003, understanding that growth would bring development and the demand for land, materials, housing and roadways would threaten the Colorado River. The ABRCP sought to protect the river and its natural and cultural resources through education, public outreach and collaboration to ensure sustainable development and a healthy riparian zone. The ABRCP was awarded the Community Stewardship Award for Raising Public Awareness by Envision Central Texas for its Vision Report titled “Discovering the Colorado.”  The report tells the tale of the Colorado River’s ecology and its history and describes both its current state and the desired future state. Read the report here.

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.

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