For “Travel Tuesday”: let’s take a look at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
“Home to some of the best beaches in America, the Texas Gulf Coast region draws millions of visitors to this Texas playground. Stretching some 350 miles from South Padre Island & the Rio Grande Valley, all the way to Beaumont & the Louisiana border, this region is renowned for its wildlife & natural beauty, as well as the home of America's space program. Discover the Beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast Region.”
“The Trinity River is within the heartland of the Caddo Indian Tribe. Archeological sites near the Refuge point to sedentary and long-term occupation of the area by ancestral Caddo people. The Caddo in this area were part of the great mound-building culture of east Texas and adjoining forested lands, a society with a high artistic and architectural tradition which dominated the region for 1,000 years. Lands within the Trinity River Refuge were later a peripheral part of the 1857 Mexican settlement of Atascosito.”
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
“Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeast Texas. It is approximately 56 miles northeast of the city of Houston and 42 miles west of Beaumont, Texas.
The primary purpose of this 25,000-acre refuge is to protect a portion of the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem along the Trinity River.
The refuge, a remnant of what was once a much larger natural area, is a broad flat floodplain made up of numerous sloughs, oxbow lakes, artesian wells and tributaries.
It provides important breeding, wintering and stopover habitat for a variety of migratory wildlife, including waterfowl and numerous neotropic songbirds. More than 275 species of birds occur in the bottomland forests and associated wetlands in eastern Texas and 100 bird species are known to breed there.
In addition to abundant bird life, the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, although not fully surveyed, the refuge contains more than 650 plant species and 400 vertebrate species.”
“The Refuge is currently at almost 25,000 acres and continues to grow. It is one of only 14 priority-one bottomland sites identified for protection in the Texas Bottomland Protection Plan. Additionally, this refuge is located within the Gulf Coast Joint Venture Project Area of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and, as such, is highly valuable for a diversity of waterfowl species. This type of habitat is used during migration or nesting by nearly 50 percent of the neotropical migratory bird species listed by the Service. Bottomland hardwood forests also support abundant populations of white-tailed deer, squirrels, numerous other furbearers, freshwater turtles, alligators, snakes, river otters, and bald eagle.
Wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities available at the Trinity River NWR include fishing, hunting, photography, and general nature observation. Most of these recreational opportunities are permitted on numerous public use areas throughout the Refuge. Many other tracts found on the Refuge are currently closed to the public due to lack of access, roads, and facilities.
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge hosts or takes part in numerous public events throughout the year. All events are free. To find the exact date, time and place, please go to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Calendar of Events for our events or nationwide events, call the Refuge office at 936/336-9786, or email us at the Refuge. A summary of our yearly events are listed below:
September - National Public Lands Day
The Refuge and Friends of Trinity River Refuge host a trash cleanup day at the Hwy 105 Trinity River bridge, in Liberty county, on the last Saturday in September from 9:00am until 11:00am. The public cleanup event is part of a national effort for National Public Lands Day.
October - Big Sit
In conjunction with National Wildlife Refuge Week, the Refuge hosts a “Big Sit” event in early October. The rules could not be easier: anyone with an interest can just sit in a 17-foot diameter circle and identify all the birds they see or hear during a 24-hour (or less) period. We start at 7:00 am at the Champion Lake pier and go to sunset. More at: http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/connect/bigsit/about.php
October - Butterfly Count
In conjunction with National Wildlife Refuge Week and Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas, the Refuge hosts an Annual Trinity River Butterfly Count in mid October. Butterfly enthusiasts of all levels are welcome.
December – Christmas Bird Count
The Refuge hosts an Annual Trinity River Christmas Bird Count for northern Liberty County in late December. Birdwatchers of all levels are welcome.”
“Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge has listed the 2013 Big Game hunting opportunities on its website. Lottery applications for Big Game will only be accepted between Sept. 3-27, 2013. The hunt will be by lottery draw. The application and regulations can be downloaded at http://southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/trinityriver or you can type in Trinity River Refuge in any search engine to locate the website. Various tracts in Liberty County, totaling nearly 7,000 acres, will be open to big game hunting for deer and hog.” More at: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/west_university/living/trinity-river-refuge-to-host-big-game-hunting-opportunities/article_0f957f04-158d-11e3-8015-0019bb2963f4.html
Hunting 2013/2014 Season
“There are various opportunities for hunting on the Refuge. We have an Archery, Big Game (Deer and Hog), Upland Game (Squirrel and Rabbit), Muzzleloader (Deer and Hog) and Waterfowl Hunting on the Refuge. For information regarding each of the hunts mentioned see the links below.
“Birdwatching opportunities are available on five tracts at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. The Champion Lake Public Use Area offers the most variety. This 800 acre cypress tree studded lake and adjacent 4,600 acres of bottomland hardwood forest offers viewing (depending on time of the year) of at least a dozen species of waterfowl, Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite, Osprey, Wood Stork, Painted Bunting, Vermillion Flycatcher, Bluebird and numerous warbler species including the Prothonotary Warbler. A short levee trail is available (use dependent on flood levels) or you can bird with a small boat. Other tracts that offer birding opportunities include Butler Tract, Brierwood Tract, Page Tract, and McGuire tract. View refuge bird species.”
“Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge currently offers three tracts for fishing opportunities. Champion Lake is our largest and easiest to access. You can drive right up to the 150 foot fishing pier, fish from a boat, or along a 3,000 foot levee. The lake consists of 800 plus acres of flooded cypress trees and buttonbush. The McGuire tract requires a quarter mile walk to a two acre pond and adjacent bayou. The Brierwood tract allows access to Gaylor Lake/Davis Bayou bank line less than 50 yards from the parking area. You will have the opportunity to catch bass, crappie or catfish at each of these areas. Keep your eye out for alligators, opossum, beavers, otters, not to mention a few snakes and always have a current fishing license with you.”
County Road 417, 10.5 miles south of Dayton off FM 1409.
”800-acre Champion Lake is part of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can take part in fishing, hunting, nature and wildlife viewing and restricted boating activities including canoeing and kayaking (call the Refuge office for current water levels). Rules and regulations pertaining to activities at Champion Lake and other information can be found on the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge website.”
Refuge Biology Corner
“Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing place to work, there are so many habitats and different species of plants and animals, it is hard to focus on what to protect first! The daily duties of a wildlife biologist involve protecting and managing wildlife. Although it sounds like a biologist just works with animals, much of a biologist’s work actually deals with people, plants, and habitat. Why bother managing the plants, it seems boring doesn’t it? Well, you have to remember if an animal does not have food, shelter, and safe water, it will not do well. Therefore, a biologist’s focus should always be placed on habitat when managing wildlife.
Managing invasive species is a great part of habitat management. Invasive species are plants or animals that “invade” an area. They are species not native to the Trinity River floodplain. When these species invade, they often outcompete the native species, crowding them out of areas where native species were once established. Several invasive species found on land and in water are managed through integrated pest management principles at this Refuge. Read about the invasive species.
Conducting breeding bird surveys are also part of a biologist’s duties. Surveys are conducted to monitor birds’ breeding habits and breeding locations. This is where a biologist usually gets dirty, but it really is the most fun part of the job. The biologist studies colonial waterbirds (such as anhingas, cormorants, egrets, herons, and ibises), waterfowl (including black-bellied whistling ducks, wood ducks, and hooded mergansers), and also passerine cavity-nesting birds (bluebirds, carolina wrens, and carolina chickadees). The most challenging part of studying colonial waterbirds is trying to count their nests. Sometimes they number in the 1,000s!
Research is always a fun aspect of this job. The refuge biologist also studies bats, Rafinesque’s big-eared bats to be more specific. These are rare bats that can be found in the Trinity River Floodplain. These bats were discovered inhabiting an abandoned house on the Refuge. When the biologist learned of how rare it is to find these bats, the biologist decided it would be a good idea to study them. Read about Rafinesque’s big-eared bat research on the Refuge.
Paid internships for high school students are available through Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). Students who are currently in college or are recent graduates from college are eligible for jthe Student Conservation Association (SCA) Internship. Finally, college students wishing to explore the idea of being a Refuge Biologist for one week may be interested in a Spring Break Internship. Find out about internship opportunities at Trinity River National Wildlife. From: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/trinityriver/Biology%20Corner.html
History of nearby Liberty, TX.
“Liberty, established in 1831 and originally named Villa de la Santísima Trinidad de la Libertad, was an important river port for steamboat trade on the Trinity River. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the sawmill industry flourished. Oil became the focus of industry and the population boomed after the first well drilled in the South Liberty field on January 1, 1925 started producing. During World War II, a German prisoner-of-war camp on the grounds of the Trinity Valley Exposition housed soldiers captured on the battlefield. Notables associated with Liberty include William Travis, commander of the Alamo and General Sam Houston, leader of the Texas revolution.”
I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. For more information about the refuge, go to http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=21593.
On This Day:
Andrew Jackson shuts down Second Bank of the U.S., Sep 10, 1833:
“On this day in 1833, President Andrew Jackson announces that the government will no longer use the Second Bank of the United States, the country's national bank. He then used his executive power to remove all federal funds from the bank, in the final salvo of what is referred to as the "Bank War."
A national bank had first been created by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton in 1791 to serve as a central repository for federal funds. The Second Bank of the United States was founded in 1816; five years after this first bank's charter had expired. Traditionally, the bank had been run by a board of directors with ties to industry and manufacturing, and therefore was biased toward the urban and industrial northern states. Jackson, the epitome of the frontiersman, resented the bank's lack of funding for expansion into the unsettled Western territories. Jackson also objected to the bank's unusual political and economic power and to the lack of congressional oversight over its business dealings.
Jackson, known as obstinate and brutish but a man of the common people, called for an investigation into the bank's policies and political agenda as soon as he settled in to the White House in March 1829. To Jackson, the bank symbolized how a privileged class of businessmen oppressed the will of the common people of America. He made clear that he planned to challenge the constitutionality of the bank, much to the horror of its supporters. In response, the director of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, flexed his own political power, turning to members of Congress, including the powerful Kentucky Senator Henry Clay and leading businessmen sympathetic to the bank, to fight Jackson.
Later that year, Jackson presented his case against the bank in a speech to Congress; to his chagrin, its members generally agreed that the bank was indeed constitutional. Still, controversy over the bank lingered for the next three years. In 1932, the divisiveness led to a split in Jackson's cabinet and, that same year, the obstinate president vetoed an attempt by Congress to draw up a new charter for the bank. All of this took place during Jackson's bid for re-election; the bank's future was the focal point of a bitter political campaign between the Democratic incumbent Jackson and his opponent Henry Clay. Jackson's promises to empower the "common man" of America appealed to the voters and paved the way for his victory. He felt he had received a mandate from the public to close the bank once and for all, despite Congress' objections. Biddle vowed to continue to fight the president, saying that "just because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned Judges [does not mean] he is to have his way with the bank."
On September 10, 1833, Jackson removed all federal funds from the Second Bank of the U.S., redistributing them to various state banks, which were popularly known as "pet banks." In addition, he announced that deposits to the bank would not be accepted after October 1. Finally, Jackson had succeeded in destroying the bank; its charter officially expired in 1836.
Jackson did not emerge unscathed from the scandal. In 1834, Congress censured Jackson for what they viewed as his abuse of presidential power during the Bank War.”
First drunk driving arrest, Sep 10, 1897:
“On this day in 1897, a 25-year-old London taxi driver named George Smith becomes the first person ever arrested for drunk driving after slamming his cab into a building. Smith later pled guilty and was fined 25 shillings.
Despite the stiff penalties and public awareness campaigns, drunk driving remains a serious problem in the United States. In 2005, 16,885 people died in alcohol-related crashes and almost 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs”
“In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes - one every 53 minutes
An average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before first arrest.
About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders.
Adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010 - that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.
Drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year.
Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.
50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Out of those 226 deaths, 122 were riding with the drunk driver.”
This time, Misty wanted to go for her walk when I picked up Jay.
We put up more panels on the porch roof over my front door. One more section to go. This is the long part of the angle of the porch, so it takes two panels to do each section now. We have to make sure that they overlap over the 1x4 stripping and keep the seams over the rafters, so that they don’t show. This means cutting some panels.
The metal carport people are supposed to be here to install it today.