Announcements from the January 2023 Chapter Meeting

Highlights from the January 2023 Chapter Meeting

The Announcements
It’s time to RSVP for a special valentine to the chapter: our Annual Banquet on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at Texas Discovery Gardens. For details please see the invitation emailed on January 6th. Please view the full set of January announcements by clicking here. Further activities are listed on the chapter calendar. Opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available here.

Highlights of the Meeting

Recognition – Congratulations to Master Naturalists achieving major milestones in the fourth quarter of 2022!
250 Hours – Susan Roberts, Gail Elmendorf, Leea Thompson Fudge
500 Hours – Rebecca Trevino

Well done, each of you!

Competitive Birding/Pollinator Bioblitz

Many thanks to Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager with Texas Parks and Wildlife for a very engaging presentation on the Great Texas Birding Classic and the Pollinator Bioblitz.

Birding – Shelly used a discussion of wildlife watching to introduce the Great Texas Birding Classic. Over 4.4 million people engage in viewing wildlife in Texas each year, with an economic impact over $13 billion. This is many times greater that the involvement and impact of hunting and clearly a major activity in the state.

That high level of engagement led to the idea of developing wildlife trails around the state, to guide activity and identify viewing locations. In 1996 Texas became the first state to implement wildlife trails and now has 9 trails featuring some 920 sites. With 90 state parks in Texas, trails significantly expand opportunities for folks to view wildlife.

Detailed interactive trail maps are available online here. Holiday flash sale for paper maps: through January 15th Shelly is offering these colorful maps by mail order from the online form.

One way for Master Naturalists to help improve the trails is through the Adopt-a-Loop program. Volunteers review trail segments to identify needs and recommend new sites.

While these trails help address the growing need for access to nature, maintaining and improving them requires ongoing funding. The Great Texas Birding Classic was created to help meet that need.

The Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) is designed to be a casual, fun competition to raise funds for birding and bird habitat. Proceeds from entry fees and sponsorships are distributed annually as grants. From registration to category selection to final reporting, the entire GTBC process is online, with data submittal via the eBird app.

Taking advantage of spring migration, the competition runs from April 15 through May 15 each year. The registration deadline is April 1. Participation has grown steadily. In 2022, 187 teams participated (over 1,100 individuals) and $45,000 in grants were awarded.

Shelly reviewed how the GTBC works and focused particularly on the Big Sit category. It involves counting all day from a set 50-foot circle, sort of a long birding tailgate party. She shared interesting locations, advocacy approaches, food spreads, and success stories.

Other categories include Sunrise to Noon, Texas Two-Stop, State Park and Human-powered. The Outta-Sight Song Birder Tournament was designed to include birders who are visually impaired. In this category birders identify by song alone.

Grants disbursed from the GTBC target benefits for bird populations. They protect areas important to birds (land acquisition and habitat restoration), improve access to watch wildlife and enhance conservation awareness. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000. Last year three Master Naturalist chapters won grants.

Shelly encouraged us to field teams, find sponsors, compete, and apply for grants. She emphasized that each year the birds are the big winner!

Moving to the Pollinator Bioblitz Shelly described how the event is used to raise awareness of pollinators. It includes both plant and animal observations. She discussed the competition, the daily challenges, leaderboards and participation on social media.

Like the GTBC, data from this bioblitz also contributes to citizen science.

Going Deeper: TPWD Nature Tourism page
Great Texas Wildlife Trail Maps are available online in interactive format; Hard copies of these maps are available by mail-in order form
Great Texas Birding Classic general information and links
GTBC grant information
GTBC Facebook page
TPWD Pollinator Bioblitz page (2023 dates TBD)
TPWD Private Lands and Habitat Program
Contact information: Shelly Plante

When the recording of this meeting is available, it will be posted here.

Thanks to our guests and members for participating in this month’s meeting. I hope all feel welcome at NTMN.

Take care,
Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

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