Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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SA Zoo Begins Horned Lizard Reintroduction | Texas Coast Gains Two New Artificial Reefs| VISTA Volunteers Assist TPWD

SA Zoo Begins Horned Lizard Reintroduction

The San Antonio Zoo Department of Conservation and Research is embarking on an ambitious effort to reintroduce the Texas horned lizard to areas where it has been extirpated in recent decades.

The first step is to establish a captive breeding colony of these iconic lizards as well as red harvester ants, their primary prey in the wild. The goal of this “lizard factory” will be to produce large numbers of lizards for release in suitable habitat.

Release sites will be selected based on site condition, plant communities and soil types, absence of high numbers of lizard predators (fire ants) and location. Preliminary assessment includes detailed mapping information developed by TPWD’s Amie Treuer-Kuehn in conjunction with her potential habitat maps, followed by boots-on-the-ground assessments to evaluate actual conditions.

A small grant from the TPWD Reptile and Amphibian Research and Conservation Fund will establish the captive colony, but donations are welcomed for the continuing work. This project builds on work conducted by TPWD, Dallas Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo and Texas Christian University.

Texas Coast Gains Two New Artificial Reefs

Two new artificial reefs are now in place in the Gulf of Mexico, just 6 miles off the coast of Port O’Connor. The near-shore reefs will create marine habitat that will attract a variety of sea creatures, which will in turn draw anglers and divers for recreational opportunities.

The project is part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s fundraising effort Keeping it Wild: The Campaign for Texas. Coastal Conservation Association’s (CCA) Building Conser­vation Trust, CCA Texas and Shell Oil Company partnered with the Texas Artificial Reef Program on this project.

The two adjacent reefs consist of 700 concrete pyramids that have been placed nearly 70 feet deep. The 2,500-pound pyramids have holes large enough for fish to swim through, with limestone embedded outside to provide marine life such as worms and other invertebrates with a hard substrate. The structures also have an opening at the top large enough to allow any sea turtles to escape if they wander in. The structures were placed within a 381-acre reef site, the second-largest site ever permitted in Texas waters.

VISTA Volunteers Assist TPWD

The energies of a bright, young group of service workers will benefit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the next three years. The VISTA volunteers will work to increase accessibility of TPWD resources to low-income youth, as well as Texas veterans and their families. A dozen young people will work in human resources, communications, inland fisheries and state parks, with a focus on outreach, education, program development, partnership development and volunteering.

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