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Photos shot for the January | February issue

Talented contemporary artists featured in this month's issue are part of the state park centennial painting project. Thirty selected artists created paintings of state parks to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Texas State Park system. Their paintings will be featured in a traveling exhibit and book, with additional works to be sold to benefit parks.

It's one of the many ways we're celebrating state parks in 2023. Our state parks protect our best wild places — the haunting cypress swamps of Caddo Lake, the rugged desert of Big Bend Ranch, the bird-rich thornscrub of Bentsen-Rio Grande and the dramatic canyons of Palo Duro, among others.

These and other parks across the state will host events throughout the year. Here at the magazine, we're introducing new features and focusing our regular departments on state parks.

As the centerpiece of this exciting year, we are producing a special keepsake state park edition of the magazine in May, with at least 100 pages packed full of the history, the future, the people and the parks of the Texas State Park system.

We hope you get out to enjoy our state parks in this special year.

Painting Parks

With paint and canvas, 30 artists create works to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Texas state parks.

Artist David Caton, who has a knack for painting moving water, carries an easel, canvas and set of paints as he hikes along the Frio River at Garner State Park. At a particular spot, the river tumbles over rocks and a limestone shelf to form a set of rapids. Caton settles in to paint the scene on his small canvas as a study for a larger work.

At LBJ State Park and Historic Site, painter and muralist Fidencio Duran looks for artistic inspiration at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, a place that reminds him of his own rural Texas childhood. As the chickens peck at feed and workers tend the garden, Duran finds the subject he wants to paint: two women working with wool and spinning thread outside a cabin.

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Trials of the Trail

Wool socks, teenagers and other mysteries of life on a Pedernales Falls backpacking trip.

Packing a backpack is like walking a tightrope. It strikes an improbable balance, equal parts art and science, a puzzle that can perplex newbies and gearheads alike. How do you carry as little as possible while also having everything you need?

This balance becomes even trickier in winter, when the gear is bulkier and plunging temperatures demand extra layers.

It's harder still to teach that balance to others, especially boys on the precipice of manhood, in that awkward phase where their bodies have outgrown themselves, all legs and arms and lean muscle. Their packs are too big or too small, and it's hard to find one that will cinch tightly over their narrow hips.

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Fleeing the Heat

Drought, wildfires and heat waves pose challenges for a rare bird and toad.

A friendly, sunshine-faced songbird and a small toad that loves to sing loudly all night seem unaware of the threats that face their species. The actions we take to save them could save another species as well ... humans.

These two species — the golden-cheeked warbler and the Houston toad — make their homes on either side of the Balcones Escarpment, the surface expression of a fissure in the Earth's crust formed 300 million years ago. The fault extends from Waco in the north to Del Rio in the south, featuring distinctive traits from both halves of the continent as verdant pancake-flat prairies converge on juniper-studded canyonlands and stratified limestone bluffs.

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KTW 2011 cover KTW 2011 cover

Keep Texas Wild

It's not just for kids. If you like nature-related topics in an easy-to-read format, you can find three years of our popular Keep Texas Wild issues and the teacher resources to go along with them.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine 
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