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Today, I want to tell you about a great find I made recentely. My find is a product and company called GameTraxx. With today’s technology advancements, such as trail cameras, GPS units, iPhones and Satellite imagery, we wanted to create a very easy to use but extremely powerful weapon for each outdoorsman’s toolbox. For years I have used paper journals, trail cameras, topo-maps and satellite imagery during my many hunting and fishing trips around the United States. However, I was only able to use these tools independent of each other. It was time to combine all of these technological advancements into a simple and easy to use weapon, hence the birth of GameTraxx.com.
They spent 1000’s of hours developing this tool and launching each subsequent new feature, ensuring that all the details were addressed properly to create a solid product for their members. The launch of GameTraxx.com came in November 2007, and they have constantly added to the benefits a member receives, while keeping the price at $29.95 per year.
Quick Overview of what GameTraxx.com offers:
1. Journaling Software for recording the events of when you were in the field;
2. Automatic Weather Tracking for your specific area, which is automatically populated from one of the 1800 weather stations and into your journal for a quick review of weather vs activity;
3. Photo Manager helps you sort your photos and tie them back to a specific journal entry and/or activity;
4. Quick Stats page gives you a quick overview of your activity selected. Giving you details such as buck/doe ratios, hours in the field and sightings per hour;
5. Custom Online Journal allows you to quickly review days in the field, reviewing detail notes, sightings, photos and weather patterns of each day you spent in the field or on the water;
6. Trail Cam Sync is the hottest tool out their for trail cam users. Allowing you to download 1000’s of events and compare the pictures’ to weather patterns for a never before seen look at your trail cam pictures.
7. iPhone Application – Launching Soon – which will give you the ease and access to enter reports from the field – never missing any details;
8. Interactive Mapping – Launching Summer 2010 – this INCREDIBLE new innovative feature will allow you to enter and view sightings and harvests on a satellite image of your hunting and fishing areas;
I love my GameTraxx app and know you will too.
After the last issue of Riparian Notes, (What is a Creek?), one reader commented that he did not consider the floodplain to be a part of the creek. Then, at a recent riparian workshop, participants and instructors alike were uncertain about the proper identification of the floodplain on two creeks in central Texas. This confusion indicates a need to clarify what is meant by the term “floodplain” and how that term is used in several different contexts.
To some, the term floodplain refers to the 100 year floodplain. This designation is widely used for city planning and flood insurance purposes. It is the estimated extent that floodwaters reach on those extraordinary but rare flood events that theoretically occur at a 1% probability in any given year. This designation has limited practical relevance to riparian workers. The 100 year floodplain is located far above the active channel and far above the active floodplain and usually includes one or more abandoned floodplain terraces. The 100 year floodplain includes both upland areas, as well as riparian areas.
To the professionally trained stream hydrologist, the floodplain is defined totally different. For hydrologists, the geomorphic floodplain is that area starting at or just above the bankfull elevation where frequent flood events spill out of the channel. In this context, the floodplain is much lower in the landscape and is inundated in relatively frequent events, such as once every 1 – 3 years. It is often calculated to coincide with the theoretical 1.5 year return interval discharge or a 66% probability of occurrence in any given year. The hydrologist might employ some fairly complicated watershed, runoff and discharge calculations to help determine where the bankfull elevation is and where the active floodplain should be located. Using this technical definition, everything below bankfull and everything below the geomorphic floodplain is considered to be part of the channel. These designations can get pretty complex and technical for those who are not well versed in stream classification and stream hydrology. The trained hydrologist will often rely just as much on visual indicators (described below) as they do on calculations and graphs.
To the average layman who is just trying to understand the basic dynamics within the creek-riparian area, the floodplain concept can be simplified somewhat. In order to designate the location of the active riparian floodplain, the function of the floodplain must first be understood. The floodplain is the energy dissipater of the creek. The channel is meant to confine and transport high-energy flows of water and sediment. This high-energy conduit needs a means to dissipate that energy much like a pressure relief valve on an air tank. Without a pressure relief mechanism, catastrophic failure is inevitable. The floodplain is the pressure relief mechanism of the creek. It is normally a relatively flat topographic feature adjacent to the channel that allows floodwaters to spread out and thus dissipate energy. When flood energy is dissipated, the velocity of floodwater is reduced and sediments begin to settle out. All of this happens best when the active riparian floodplain is properly vegetated with riparian grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The root masses of these plants anchor them into the floodplain and hold the sediments in place. The above ground parts of these riparian plants help to physically disrupt and retard the energy of floodwater and to trap and stabilize sediments. Understanding the function of the riparian floodplain helps the layman to identify its location in the field. Look for a flat bench near the channel where there are signs of frequent sediment and debris deposition. Also look for signs of riparian-wetland vegetation (OBL, FACW and FAC species) on these benches. These two indicators may be the simplest way to identify the active riparian floodplain.
Ideally, the location of the geomorphic floodplain identified by the hydrologist will match up to the location of the active riparian floodplain identified by the layman based on visual indicators. When the two do not match up, the best advice is to let the creek tell you where the floodplain is.
Yes, the floodplain concept can be confusing. But it is an integral and important part of the creek, and we need to understand it. Go to a creek and ponder these things. Take a pole with you and catch some grasshoppers. If the fishing gets slow, take a floodplain walk and consider these things.
Steve Nelle, NRCS
AUSTIN – Texas has the largest dove population, the most dove hunters, and the most flexible dove hunting framework in the nation. A recent opinion survey indicates Texas dove hunters are content with the current seasons and bag limits.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asked the opinions and attitudes of Texas dove hunters toward season structures and bag limits in an August 2009 mail survey sent to 7,500 recipients. Besides revisiting several issues of continuing interest, the dove survey specifically sought feedback on three issues, including the late season segment being established in the North Zone, late season segment interest in the South Zone, and the new 15-bird daily bag limit for the Central and South Zones.
“We have a lot of options available for tweaking the system and want to be sure we’re serving the needs of our dove hunters,” said Corey Mason, TPWD dove program leader. “Some things, like opening prior to September 1, are out of our hands. But, according to the survey results, our hunters prefer by a two-to-one margin that traditional September 1 opener.”
Recent changes in mourning dove harvest strategies resulted in the Central Management Unit having a single season structure option, a 70-day season, and 15-bird daily bag limit, although state regulations can be more restrictive should the Commission choose. With 10 extra days now available in the Texas North Zone, TPWD asked hunters what season structure they preferred. A split season was preferred by 56.7 percent, with a shorter late segment being most preferred. Additionally, under current regulations, this season structure would standardize regulations between the North and Central Zones.
One question that seems to come up routinely in coffee shop talks relates to half-day shooting versus all-day. As in past surveys when this question was asked, dove hunters continue to prefer the all-day option by a sizeable margin with only 15 percent preferring noon-to-sunset shooting hours. Response preferences have averaged around the 80 percent rate in every survey TPWD has conducted regarding the all-day option. All-day hunting will continue as long as there is no evidence indicating it is harmful to the resource.
Texas has had a 4-day Special White-winged Dove Area hunting season the first two complete weekends (Saturday and Sunday, noon to sunset shooting hours) in September in portions of South Texas for more than 50 years. Hunters indicated they prefer this format over a Friday-Saturday option and no other changes to the special season are needed.
Texas boasts 350,000 dove hunters and the survey showed nearly half (44.5 percent) hunt in the Central Zone. Prior to the 2009-10 season, hunters in the Central Zone preferred a longer season and smaller bag limit. However, now that both 70 days and 15 birds are available in one option, it becomes a win-win proposition for hunters.
South Zone hunters also prefer the 15-bird bag and 70-day season. According to the survey results, South Zone hunters also prefer to open as early as possible and hunt as late in the season as allowed by federal law over having a consistent closing date.
“Texas is the only state allowed to establish a late season that runs until January 25,” said Mason. “We have not run the season to the end of the framework for many years mainly because the primary hunting interest comes early and the segment of hunters who participate in the January season is very small.”
The complete survey findings are available online at http://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/media/texas_dove_hunter_opinion_survey_results_2010.pdf.
If you were asked to throw a rock into the creek, the result would be a splash and ripples. We often think of “the creek” as the water. But a creek is much more than the visible water. These are the major parts / components that combine together to make the creek:
The Channel contains and directs the water at base flow up to bankfull flow. The channel should be relatively stable, yet dynamic, with bank erosion being balanced with new bank formation.
The Floodplain is where out-of-bank flows are able to spread out and dissipate the energy of the floodwaters and trap sediments and build the Riparian Sponge.
The Water Table is part of the creek. In fact, it may be a much greater volume of water than what is visible in the channel. The water table is fed by the creek during flood events; and in turn the water table feeds the creek during base flow. They are in intimate contact with each other.
Base Flow is what we normally think of as “the creek”. It is the water level for the majority of the year. On seasonal creeks, there is no base flow during parts of the year.
Flood Flow is a critical and essential part of creek health. Floods can do much damage, but they also build and rejuvenate creek systems. The more frequent floods, such as the 2 – 5 year events are actually more important than the infrequent 50 year events.
Vegetation is the most critical component of creek stability. The root masses of riparian grasses, sedges, forbs, shrubs and trees all work together to knit and reinforce the banks and floodplains. Vegetation also helps dissipate the energy of floodwaters so that sediment can settle out and be stabilized. Creeks have an amazing capacity to restore their own desirable vegetation as long as land management practices are adequate.
Sediment is what helps form new point bars, which add sinuosity and reduce stream energy. Trapped sediment is also what builds new and bigger floodplains, which in turn add water storage capacity to the Riparian Sponge. Erosion is often viewed as an undesirable process; however some riparian erosion is normal and desirable as it provides material for re-building channels, banks and floodplains.
Debris includes leaves, twigs, branches and large logs, which are lodged and deposited in the channel and floodplain. Such debris is important for organic enrichment of the riparian area and provides aquatic habitat. Large logs, which become partially or totally buried in sediment are extremely important for channel stability in many creeks.
Next time you go down to the creek, think bigger than the pools and riffles. Think about the entire system working together. When the system is in good working order, the many values and benefits we all appreciate about a creek will be present.
Steve Nelle, NRCS
AUSTIN — The Texas Animal Health Commission, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have issued a summer and early fall alert for ranchers, hunters and anyone who may be going afield in Texas. One case of anthrax has been confirmed in a white-tailed deer herd on a game ranch in Uvalde County, which is in an area of South Texas endemic to anthrax. Although humans are also susceptible, no cases have been reported to date, and simple precautions can effectively reduce the risks of humans contracting the disease.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease of sheep, goats, cattle, horses, deer and other animals. The bacteria which cause anthrax can remain dormant in the soil for many years. A period of drought followed by heavy rains frequently occurs just before the appearance of anthrax in livestock and deer. Animals that eat the rapidly growing grasses also consume soil that contains the bacteria. Currently, soil conditions are right to produce more outbreaks around the triangular geographic area bounded by Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass, which cover portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney, and Maverick counties.
Transmission of anthrax to humans can occur whether an affected animal is alive or has died from the disease. Simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the disease from these animals. Carcasses of dead livestock and deer should not be cut open to allow blood to escape. Under no circumstances should the hide, hair, skulls, or horns of an animal suspected of having anthrax be salvaged, nor should the meat of these animals be eaten.
During an anthrax outbreak, hunters in the affected areas are discouraged from taking feral hogs because they consume the meat of dead animals and could be carrying the bacteria. Fortunately, by the time deer hunting season starts, cool weather usually puts an end to the often seasonal anthrax outbreak. At minimum, hunters should harvest only healthy-looking deer and other hoof stock. If a deer has ingested anthrax bacteria, within hours, it will stagger, tremble or exhibit convulsions, and death is inevitable.
When an area experiences an anthrax outbreak, ranchers should wear long sleeves and gloves when handling or vaccinating livestock. Afterward, good sanitation measures should be followed, including hand washing and laundering of clothing. This aids in preventing contact with the anthrax bacteria which may have been picked up on the hides of animals. Do not pick up bones, horns or shed antlers, and pets and children should be kept away from dead animals. Healthy animals also should be moved from a contaminated pasture during an outbreak, but must remain on the premise and not hauled down the road to another pasture.
To prevent additional soil contamination, Texas Animal Health Commission regulations require that anthrax affected animal carcasses must be burned, until thoroughly consumed, along with any associated bedding and manure. This practice prevents wild pigs, coyotes, dogs or other predators from dragging carcasses (and the accompanying anthrax bacteria) from one pasture to another, and spilling out the anthrax spores.
TAHC regulations also require that livestock on infected premises be quarantined for at least 10 days after all the livestock have been vaccinated against the disease. During this time, anthrax-exposed animals may still die from the disease, while healthy, vaccinated animals will develop immunity.
All anthrax cases — suspected or laboratory confirmed — must be reported to the TAHC. The regulatory agency operates a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-550-8242, with state or federal regulatory veterinarians available at all times to take calls and work with private veterinary practitioners and producers.
More information about anthrax is available by contacting the TPWD Wildlife Division at (512) 389-4505, The Texas Animal Health Commission at (512) 719-0710, or the Zoonosis Control Division, Texas Department of State Health Services, at (512) 458-7255.