Texas Children in Nature Summit and Champion Awards Luncheon – November 7th and 8th

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Save the Date! November 7 & 8 at the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio.

Join the Texas Children in Nature network to explore the latest research and share ideas to strengthen the connection between children, communities and nature. During this two-day Summit, TCiN will bring together over 250 leaders from the health, education, built environment, faith, and conservation community to shape an even brighter future for the children of Texas.

Find the full schedule of events listed or to register go here

To connect on Facebook go here

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Friends of Government Canyon | Halloween Fair at Government Canyon, Saturday, October 28, 2017 6:00pm 8:30pm

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Join the Friends of Government Canyon for a child oriented evening of fun to celebrate Halloween!

  

 

Who Is Invited

Open to ages 12 and under. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian for the duration of the event; no drop-offs please. Note that all areas for this event are handicap/stroller accessible. Each child will receive a carnival style map to guide them toHalloween themed stations which include games, crafts, and of course, treats!

Registration & Fees

Registration is required for EACH participant. Adults accompanying their children need NOT register. All Natural Area entry fees apply; please stop at the self-pay area to the right of the Fee Booth to self-pay. Correct change is required: $6 per person ages 13 and over; 12 and under are free. If you have a Texas State Park Pass, please enter the number on the appropriate line of the self-pay envelope. Credit cards are NOT accepted when self-paying.

When & Where to Meet

Meet and sign in next to the Visitor’s Center. The event begins at 6:00 PM, but you may come whenever you like and stay as little or as long as you wish. The fair will close at 8:30 PM. Plan ahead, as the Natural Area often experiences heavy visitation and wait time at the fee booth.

What to Wear & Bring

Dress appropriately for the weather; costumes are encouraged but not required.

Requirements

No pets please. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian for the duration of the event. To reduce human impact on the Natural Area, please follow the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics.

Cancellations

This program is subject to cancellation. Should there be inclement weather, please check Natural Area conditions by calling GCSNA’s main office at 210-688-9055 after 7:30 am, or by going to the GCSNA twitter feed or the Friends of Government Canyon Facebook page.

For more information about this program, email reservations@friendsofgc.org or go here

Monarch Butterfly Experts: Citizen Scientists Can Be Agents of Change

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(From left) David Suzuki Foundation Director of Science Louise Hénault-Ethier, Director of Scientific Communication at the National Commission of Biodiversity in Mexico Carlos Galindo Leal, Monarch Watch Founder Chip Taylor, and Journey North Founder Elizabeth Howard respond to a question posed by moderator Dan Goodgame at the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium.
BONNIE ARBITTIER / RIVARD REPORT (From left) David Suzuki Foundation Director of Science Louise Hénault-Ethier, Director of Scientific Communication at the National Commission of Biodiversity in Mexico Carlos Galindo Leal, Monarch Watch Founder Chip Taylor, and Journey North Founder Elizabeth Howard respond to a question posed by moderator Dan Goodgame at the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium.

 

As political concerns make environmental policy changes hard to foresee, the role of citizen scientists in tracking the Monarch butterfly’s population fluctuations and migration patterns is even more important, said a panel of experts from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.“What changes things are people working, understanding, and learning,” said Dr. Carlos Galindo Leal, the director of scientific communication at the National Commission of Biodiversity in Mexico (CONABIO). “Over 50% of observations of plants and animals globally come from citizen scientists.”The panel Friday night at the Pearl Stable kicked off the second annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival and featured scientists and others experts from each of the countries on the Monarch’s migration route. Galindo was joined by Elizabeth Howard, founder of Journey North, an organization that tracks and advocates for wildlife migrations; Louise Hénault-Ethier, director of science at the David Suzuki Foundation; and Monarch Watch founder Dr. Chip Taylor.“Tangled politics” in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have not helped the Monarch’s situation, the experts said. Hénault-Ethier said that environmental advocates are still waiting for the approval of a petition asking to list the Monarch butterfly as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.Environmental concerns are the principal threat to the Monarch’s ability to thrive. As governments “come and go” in the three countries where the migration occurs and policies change depending on political leaders, the true drivers of change are those citizens committed to environmental advocacy and helping scientists track migration patterns, Galindo said.

Director of the Second Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival and of the Texas Butterfly Ranch Monika Maeckle introduces the panel at the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium at the Pearl Stable.

BONNIE ARBITTIER / RIVARD REPORT

Director of the Second Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival and of the Texas Butterfly Ranch Monika Maeckle introduces the panel at the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium at the Pearl Stable.

“The main issues across the board are the reproduction of plants that are full of herbicides or insecticides,” Galindo told the audience. “In addition, our main concern is also the migration pathway. For many years we were concerned about the hibernation sites, but this is not a Mexican issue only. … The migration has to be looked at from the breeding sites to the winter sites and back.”

Right now, the fall Monarch migration is in full swing in South Texas, and citizen scientists are helping professional scientists to track the migration, Howard said.

“The importance of Texas is so great,” she said, “because the migration passes through here in both directions.”

“Today, Monarchs are still coming out of Ontario when they should have been out of there three weeks ago,” Taylor said.

The delayed migration patterns have him “very concerned” because the delay could affect how many Monarchs will make it to the roosting sites in Michoacán, Mexico. “Monarchs can travel up to 300 miles in three days, and I predicted high populations from the Northeast … but what I couldn’t predict were the fall winds and temperatures.”

The rise in temperatures during the fall, Taylor said, has caused delayed migration patterns because Monarchs don’t like to fly when it’s 80 or 90 degrees. In addition, strong headwinds are a factor. There are reports of downward trends in Monarch populations across the board, Hénault-Ethier said, citing a recent study that shows a 90% decline in Mexico.

“I don’t know how this will pan out, but I’m concerned,” Taylor said. “We’ll have to wait and see. It’s a year of surprises.”

 While the scientists and citizen scientists cited climate change as an overarching problem that may hinder the butterflies’ future population numbers, they emphasized that other issues negatively affecting Monarchs are easier to address. Those issues include the lack of plants such as milkweed that are vital to the Monarch’s life cycle and the proliferation of herbicides and insecticides. As herbicide and insecticide use has increased, Hénault-Ethier said, studies are showing a sharp decline in insect populations.

“There are several issues we don’t have a handle on like climate change, which is hard to get a grip on on a short-term basis,” Hénault-Ethier said. “Let’s educate people. If there is less milkweed there is less likelihood for Monarchs to reproduce.”

Hénault-Ethier said that she’s working with Canadians to plant more milkweed in urban environments and cities – places where concrete is king. Recently, 5,000 milkweed plants were sold in Canada, she added, and advocates plan to encourage more people to plant them.

(From left) David Suzuki Foundation Director of Science Louise Hénault-Ethier and Director of Scientific Communication at the National Commission of Biodiversity in Mexico Carlos Galindo Leal share a laugh before the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium begins.

BONNIE ARBITTIER / RIVARD REPORT

(From left) David Suzuki Foundation Director of Science Louise Hénault-Ethier and Director of Scientific Communication at the National Commission of Biodiversity in Mexico Carlos Galindo Leal share a laugh before the Butterflies Without Borders Symposium begins.

Scientists need help – “more eyes and ears,” Howard said, emphasizing the need for more citizen scientists to record observations. Galindo and Taylor said more pollinator gardens and way stations could make a significant difference, as they help the Monarchs renew their energy and continue on their journey.

Taylor said all citizens must be more proactive in terms of conservation.

“A reporter in Mexico asked me, ‘Why do you conservationists care more about animals than your people?’” Taylor said. “I love that question. The bottom line is, I care about those animals because I really care about people. It’s about us. … It’s about our future and the environment we want to see in the future.”

Monika Maeckle, director of the three-day festival and of the Texas Butterfly Ranch, introduced the panel following a welcome video featuring Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who recently recommitted to the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Butterfly Pledge. The discussion was moderated by Rackspace Vice President Dan Goodgame, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author.

To learn more about the festival, visit the Texas Butterfly Ranch website.

The original article is here

 

 

 

5th annual Get Out and Play Day and BioBlitz at the San Antonio Zoo on Saturday, November 11 from 10am-2pm

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Join the San Antonio Zoo – Saturday, November 11 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. for their 5th annual Get Out and Play Day! Organizations from across the city will be at the zoo to provide fun family activities to learn about the benefits of playing outdoors through nature-based activities.

They are excited to announce that this year’s Get Out and Play Day will be the San Antonio Zoo’s first ever BioBlitz! A BioBlitz is a community wide event were everyone will help find native wildlife in the zoo, in the city and in your own backyard! They will have stations to show families how to secure a future for wildlife by taking pictures and posting them to I-Naturalist, Journey North, E-Bird and many more! They are encouraging our guests to learn about how each organization helps species like the monarch butterfly and many more native Texan’s that need our help!

Get Out and Play Day is included with zoo admission and FREE for members!

 

For More Information, go here

 

 

Witte’s First Paleontologist Discovers New Crocodile Fossil

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Thomas Adams, the Witte Museum's curator of paleontology and geology, has discovered and named a new species of prehistoric crocodile.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Thomas Adams, the Witte Museum’s curator of paleontology and geology, has discovered and named a new species of prehistoric crocodile.

 

As a paleontologist and the Witte Museum‘s curator of paleontology and geology, Thomas Adams sees his job as being something of an interpreter.

“We want to tell the Texas narrative because there’s a story to be told,” Adams said. “It’s already written in rocks. We just need to translate it.”

For Adams, some of that translation is informed by his own discoveries. He has unearthed a new species of prehistoric crocodile, one he named Deltasuchus motherali and outlined in a recent scholarly article. The species was about 20 feet in length and a top predator in the food chain when it roamed Texas millions of years ago.

Adams, along with co-authors Chris Noto at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Stephanie Drumheller-Horton at the University of Tennessee, published the description of the new crocodile species earlier this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. This is the third new species Adams has discovered and named. His most recent find, the species’ partial skull, was unearthed in North Texas in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Funded by a grant from the National Geographic Society, the excavation site in Arlington has a surprisingly complete ancient ecosystem ranging from about 95 million to 100 million years old, when all of Texas was underwater except for a peninsula that included what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Adams called his work “a unique opportunity to document a site about a period we know little about, the Middle Cretaceous.”

The Cretaceous period occurred between 145.5 million and 65.5 million years ago. During the mid-Cretaceous, the planet’s land mass split into several smaller continents, creating large-scale geographic isolation and expansive new coastlines.

Texas is a rich source of paleontological research, with 22 different counties having dinsoaur track sites, Adams said.

“The highest concentration of dinosaur tracks in the world is right here in Texas,” he said. “The tracks represent a period of time in Texas when seas were rising and animals were taking advantage of open shorelines to walk across the state.”

Deltasuchus motherali is the second fossil Adams has named since joining the Witte. He came to the museum in January 2013 to consult on the design of the first permanent dinosaur gallery in the 90-year history of the museum, the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery. At the time, he was teaching geology at San Antonio College and was the local expert brought in to help with developing the Witte’s traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs UnEarthed. Once he turned his attention to the dinosaur hall, Adams thought about how paleontology would complement the Witte’s educational mission.

Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology Thomas Adams.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology Thomas Adams.

In the process, he became the Witte’s first paleontologist, one with more than 20 years experience as scientist working in the field, researching fossils and authoring scientific papers. Adams holds a doctorate degree in geology from Southern Methodist University.

The Witte’s first foray into paleontology was its work in 2014 in partnership with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to document the dinosaur tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area, where more than 300 footprints were uncovered.

Adams’ mission is to create a new paleontology program at the Witte from the ground up.

“We have an opportunity to build a program that serves not only the museum but the entire community, working with students via different programs across the city,” Adams said. “It allows us to play on an international field and do something unique in San Antonio, since research on paleontology tends to be limited here.”

Since joining the Witte, Adams has been approached by students interested in pursuing paleontology, with some volunteering as interns to do research.

“They can learn how to curate and manage collections and how to write and present a research paper,” Adams said. “We provide opportunities for students that they don’t ordinarily get.”

Adams is always on the hunt for the next big discovery, encouraging those who may have found potential fossils on their property to contact the Witte and ask for the paleontologist to help with identification.

Large drawers pull out unveiling dinosaur fossils in an education room.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Large drawers in an education room at the Witte pull out and unveil dinosaur fossils.

“For us to understand the future, we need to understand the past, not just historical but the geological,” Adams said. “We know that climate change has happened in the past, so we can look at the fossil record and see how they adapted to that before.”

As for his most recent discovery, fossil crocodiles such as Deltasuchus “help us understand how diversity changes in Texas, specifically as well as globally over time, because the evolutionary history of animals helps us understand what is happening to life as a whole.”

A native of Iowa who has lived in San Antonio since 2005, Adams balances his work at the Witte with his original research in paleontology and geology, and he makes time for programs that expand the Witte’s reach. In June, Adams accompanied students from Trinity University to Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in China as their on-site instructor for field geology.

“By my working in unison with programs such as the one at Trinity, it enables the Witte to go beyond the four walls of the museum to go into the community with expertise that can enrich the lives of those interested in the geological history of Texas,” Adams said. “That’s how I was inspired, by a wonderful mentor when I was a student who taught me about paleontology.

“We aim for the Witte to inspire a new generation of paleontologists and geologists.”

Original article here

Study: City’s Economic Prosperity Varies Widely by Zip Code

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COURTESY / ECONOMIC INNOVATION GROUP The Distressed Communities Index Map for Bexar County
In the 78207 zip code, an area just west of downtown San Antonio, nearly 48% of residents 25 years and older do not have a high school diploma, and the area’s poverty rate approaches 41%. By contrast, in 78248 on the city’s Northside, fewer than 3% of adults lack a diploma and the poverty rate is less than 3%.This finding, among others, illustrates the magnitude of San Antonio’s economic segregation in a study published Monday by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). The Distressed Communities Index (DCI), a nationwide study of economic vitality across the United States, reveals a story not unfamiliar to the residents of San Antonio: The city’s economic disparity is geographic, with wealth and greater economic activity concentrated along its northern boundary while neighborhoods in the urban core have markedly higher rates of poverty and unemployment.The study used American Community Survey estimates to identify distressed communities based on measures including educational attainment, poverty, and joblessness. The data released by the U.S. Census Bureau compiles demographic and economic measures from 2011-2015 into five-year estimates.

The Distressed Communities Index Map for Cities
ECONOMIC INNOVATION GROUP The Distressed Communities Index Map for Cities

The study ranked zip codes across several equally weighted metrics, including educational attainment, housing vacancy rate, the proportion of adults not working, poverty rate, median income, and change in the number of jobs and business establishments. Distress scores ranged from a low of 0 up to 100.

Sixteen zip codes in San Antonio rank in the 80th percentile of the nation’s most distressed communities. Zip codes 78208, just east of the Pearl, and 78207, capturing the majority of the urban Westside, scored in the 98th percentile of all zip codes analyzed in the study.

San Antonio has a relatively high number of families living in poverty, which the federal government defines as a family of four earning less than $24,600 annually. The DCI study found that poverty rates are high even in Northside neighborhoods, with some Northside areas ranging between 10% and 20%. Almost 41% of households in 78207 fall below the poverty line.

The study quantified the relative prosperity of the northern edge of San Antonio’s sprawling metropolis around Loop 1604. Northside zip codes such as 78248 and 78261, which experienced dramatic change along the 1604 commercial corridor in recent years, show as much as a 77% increase in the number of jobs since 2011. Meanwhile, zip codes such as 78201 and 78229 saw double-digit decreases in jobs in the last five years.

The Distressed Communities Index Map for Bexar County
ECONOMIC INNOVATION GROUP The Distressed Communities Index Map for Bexar County

The study also examines changes in the number of business establishments, with more businesses opening in zip codes outside Loop 1604, such as 78261 and 78253. These areas also have some of the lowest residential vacancy rates in the city.

Vacancy rates, the percentage of habitable housing stock that is unoccupied, hover around 8% throughout San Antonio, which is slightly more than what’s considered healthy, according to Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

However, vacancy rates in San Antonio can reach nearly 20% in some Eastside neighborhoods, such as 78208. High vacancy rates are interpreted as a sign of a neighborhood’s cultural and economic disenfranchisement, according to the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. High numbers of vacant properties in a neighborhood often result in decreased public safety and dropping property values, symptoms experienced primarily on San Antonio’s Eastside and Southside neighborhoods.

The pattern of economic segregation in San Antonio mirrored that of other major cities in Texas, according to the study. Houston and Dallas show similar patterns in which neighborhoods ranked as prosperous by the DCI make a ring around concentrations of distressed communities in the urban core.

Austin, however, is the exception, with only one zip code ranking above the 70th percentile of distressed communities for the state.

 

Original article here