11-year-old Naturalist Spots Invasive Species
Never underestimate the potential of a child, especially one fascinated by science and working on a life list of species. More than a year ago, Sam Hunt, 11, snapped a slightly blurry photo of an interesting green beetle a few miles north of the Fort Worth Nature Center. He submitted the photo and his location to iNaturalist, an online forum to help identify, share and discuss observations.
While Sam’s bug was incorrectly identified on the site at that time, another biologist (Alex Harman, a biology student from University Wisconsin–Platteville) chimed in last summer to suggest that the discovery might be an emerald ash borer, a claim verified by Texas’ leading entomologists. The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle species from Asia that threatens ash trees across the country. It was first found nationally a decade ago and was spotted in South Texas a few years back.
What makes Sam’s discovery important is that he found the borer outside of its known U.S. distribution, meaning it had never been found in North Texas before. The Texas A&M Forest Service and others came to investigate the site, finding no emerald ash borers, but adding it to their list to come back and check.
While this is Sam’s first newsworthy find, it may not be his last. He’s already racked up 517 observations or 279 species throughout Texas on iNaturalist. Whether you’d like to post your own sightings or just find out what your neighbors have found, check out iNaturalist.org.
El Camino Real Visitors Center Opens at Goliad
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has unveiled two newly renovated sites in Goliad — the new El Camino Real Visitors Center at Goliad State Park and Historic Site and the improved Mission Rosario State Historic Site.
The visitors center, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a cottage for the keeper of Mission Espíritu Santo, has been refurbished to provide interpretive displays highlighting the cultural and historical significance of the site.
Mission Rosario State Historic Site’s enhancements include the addition of interpretive panels for visitors to learn about the history of the mission, as well as an etched panel of what it looked like in its heyday.
This project brings the story of El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail to contemporary visitors interested in the historic Spanish travel route. Four TPWD sites are found along the route.
“TPWD and the Goliad community are excited to open two of the four sites of the historic El Camino Real de los Tejas trail right in their own backyard,” said Brenda Justice, Goliad park superintendent. “Goliad is rich in history, and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to share these special places with the people of Texas.”