Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

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chrish
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Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » February 6th, 2014, 9:26 am

I copied this from the longer post below so it could get some feedback of its own accord.

I am putting forward a spring meeting proposal for April 4-6 in the Davy Crockett and Angelina National Forests of East Central Texas.

Did some checking on the map. I think the best option is going to be to find a place that we:
- can herp legally
- is somewhat centrally located to those who would participate.

The central Texas coast (Aransas area) would certainly be fun and while it is only a quick 2-3 hours from me, it would be an all day drive (7-8 hours) for those from Baton Rouge/New Orleans or OK and AR. This was the problem we ran into with the Kisatchie area; it was simply too far east for people like me. You start to do the math and realize you will spend a full day driving there, herp one day and spend a full day driving back! :(

Looking at the map, if we were to target somewhere like the Davy Crockett National Forest in EC Texas, it would be approximately 5 hours drive from Baton Rouge, Little Rock, OK City, and San Antonio. It is a little closer to Houston/DFW areas. It isn't the most faunistically amazing area, but it is a herpable, campable National Forest and there are two other national forests less than an hour away. But most importantly, by having it centrally located maybe we can increase participation from all quadrants of the chapter which is really the point after all.

As for its value to the database,
Houston County = 13 records for 6 species
Trinity County = ZERO entries in the database.

The neighboring Angelina NF has three counties
Angelina County = 17 records for 13 species
Nacogdoches County = 8 records of 8 species
San Agustine County = 4 records of 4 species.

We should be able to knock out 20+ county records in a weekend with ease and 50 wouldn't be an unreasonable expectation.

And there are some interesting species to be found like Necturus beyeri, Lithobates palustris, Sistrurus miliarius, a diveristy of salamanders (by Texas standards), Micrurus, etc.. to lure the doubters in? Oh...and there are Cemophora there as well probably for Jeffro, even though it is not lineri.

We could aim for a weekend in late March/early April for optimal herping. That way people could drive out on Friday after work/school/whatever, meet up Friday night late, herp all day Saturday and Sunday morning before heading home.

If you aren't a camper, Lufkin is a short drive away and has all the modern facilities, hotels, etc (and a zoo for those interested in that).

Anyone interested?

Chris

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by jlzachary1 » February 6th, 2014, 4:43 pm

I think April 4-6 would be a great time to do this, just two short months away.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by Soopaman » February 6th, 2014, 4:54 pm

I'm in support of the area (sorry I haven't responded in the recent PM discussion).

However, if it is during this time period there are at least two of us that will not be there. The next weekend fares better, for me.

I would like to say that while it is good to make it centrally located for everyone, this will inevitably limit our yearly herp trip to a small range. I like that it's a short drive for everyone, but we're eventually going to have to make the trip in an area that's inconvenient for someone, whether that's Oklahoma, West Texas (an organized summer trip would be neat), South Texas, or north Arkansas.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by gretzkyrh4 » February 6th, 2014, 7:27 pm

Can't guarantee anything at the moment, but I'd be interested in taking part assuming my work schedule allows it.

Chris

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by Scott_Wahlberg » February 6th, 2014, 8:43 pm

Wasn't it in the Kisatchie last year? I wasn't able to go, but east Texas is pretty similar in terms of species diversity. While there may not be many records in the NAFHA database, both forests have been heavily surveyed by the U.S. Forest Service (and still are) in regards to herpetofauna diversity. I'd be in favor of doing it elsewhere, not sure where but I'd like to hear more suggestions. Even though both these forests are in my own backyard, I think I'd be more inclined to go if it was held in a location other than some place I herp almost every weekend.

-Scot

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » February 7th, 2014, 4:58 am

Scott_Wahlberg wrote:Wasn't it in the Kisatchie last year? I wasn't able to go, but east Texas is pretty similar in terms of species diversity. While there may not be many records in the NAFHA database, both forests have been heavily surveyed by the U.S. Forest Service (and still are) in regards to herpetofauna diversity. I'd be in favor of doing it elsewhere, not sure where but I'd like to hear more suggestions. Even though both these forests are in my own backyard, I think I'd be more inclined to go if it was held in a location other than some place I herp almost every weekend.

-Scot

Let's be clear here - I'm not in love with the idea of this part of Texas as a location, just that it is convenient to the geographic bounds of the chapter. If we think we can find a better spot where we can herp legally and draw a bigger crowd, I am 100% for it. I just don't know where that would be. I doubt the Aransas stuff will be organized by then. I'm working on it, but I'm not sure yet.

I might also point out that Anuhuac and the High Island area overrun with birders during the month of April due to spring migration. That doesn't preclude a trip to that area, but it does affect how and where we could herp as well as the availability of hotel rooms, etc..

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » February 8th, 2014, 11:38 pm

This chapter has a big problem with TX herping areas. It's not that TX lacks square mileage, but that the easy stuff is national tree farm land in the eastern third of the state. And everyone from TX and LA and AR and OK has seen that stuff.

This chapter has ridiculous boundaries! The unfortunate impact of NAFHA boundaries is that some Texas members are dead-set upon maintaining equal drive shares with the LA crowd.

I'm a bit bored with the western pinelands and the driving truce isn't compelling anymore. Can't we Texans coordinate something on our own? LA can hold their own. I am interested in the mid-coast and westward and do not have a problem devoting time to coordinate access to such lands.

Cheers,

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by jlzachary1 » February 9th, 2014, 12:56 pm

you are right it isn't that Texas lacks square mileage, it is that Texas has too much. I have never attended a chapter field trip but I am looking forward to it this year. As I said before I am coming from north central Oklahoma and I am game for whatever. I have never herped Texas and look forward to it. As for West Texas vs East Texas vs wherever. I am planning to do west texas on my own this year regardless, and I would hate to be on a "non-collect" chapter meeting and find something I would otherwise desire to keep. Whatever is decided for me the when is more important than the where.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » February 10th, 2014, 6:47 am

Oh, oh, Shane,....this sounds like secessionist talk to me! :lol:

I agree about east Texas Christmas tree farms, although there are some stands of habitat that aren't monoculture in the NFs.

I also agree about the ridiculous size of our chapter boundaries and have complained to the other chapters (AZ and Cal) that criticize us for not having more "chapter events" that they don't realize the logistical problems we have. Those chapters are awash with public lands and rarely is any chapter member more than 3-4 hours drive from a chapter event. We don't have it that easy.

Maybe having regional chapter events is the answer?

The Aransas thing might happen, but my experience is that these things take a long time to set up and we are talking about several weeks from now.

A spring Texas coastal event is warranted although so far we have had a lot of talk but little actual proposal of where we can hold it. Someone needs to come forward with a viable, legal plan.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by Soopaman » February 16th, 2014, 8:21 pm

Anything from Aransas, Chris?

I'm up for whatever but we need to move on making a decision before the trip becomes too short of notice for some folks.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by MAbernathy » February 17th, 2014, 2:20 pm

Howdy

Been quite awhile since I've posted here, so I figured I would jump in.

Regarding the spring meeting, unfortunately, I have work obligations that weekend, but maybe I'll make it out one of these times.

Interesting that we have no Trinity County vouchers. I used to work up there, and have several unvouchered finds I can think of off the top of my head (corn, Texas rat, prairie king (dor), and lots of common stuff). There is an Houston ISD Outdoor Ed Center up there, and I am sure they would be interested in reporting herps for a project (they already do e-bird) so I will send an e-mail to some friends there and see if we can get some sightings up there.

Also, I know you are also talking more mid Texas coast, but if you decide to hit the upper Texas coast, I might be able help out with some new places. I work for a non-profit in Webster, TX and we own and manage around 5000 acres around Galveston Bay. We have very little documentation of any of the flora or fauna on our properties, and I would love to get some more data. So, if you are going to be in the area, let me know and I should be able to get access for you. I would have to confirm with our land manager, but as long as folks are willing to sign our waiver and provide us with a list of what you find, I think we could work something out.

Wherever you end up for the meeting, I look forward to seeing the report afterwards.

Cheers
Matt

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » February 18th, 2014, 10:53 pm

MAbernathy wrote:Also, I know you are also talking more mid Texas coast, but if you decide to hit the upper Texas coast, I might be able help out with some new places. I work for a non-profit in Webster, TX and we own and manage around 5000 acres around Galveston Bay.
Matt,

This is exactly what we need for this year. We have a lot of people willing, just no place set up to go yet.

Do you think we could make a spring trip to this spot on Galveston bay?

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » February 18th, 2014, 11:16 pm

Legal land access is not a problem on the upper TX coast, and probably the mid-coast for that matter. However, it can be a miserable experience for the uninitiated with more woes than expected. Thick mosquitoes and ungrazed grasses with unseen atrox combine for less than ideal conditions, normally. We're not talking flipping a few boards that you know of, because that doesn't work for a group. Field herping. Copious amounts of DEET are easy, but proper protective garments cost real money and I don't herp the good areas without that kind of protection.....I used to and I learned just short of the hard way.

But, there are other avenues for NAFHA to have fun. One, we're not dealing with NAHERP, and that is important. Two, the coast does offer fishing and surfing and camping without cost, but it's a lot to prep for great fishing and miserable herping in one trip. Three, the coast above Galveston is atrox-free (prove it) and the birders will only spook turtles. Definitely some fun on the upper coast (not unlike the LA coast at all), but if we do shoot for relatively simple legal areas, I'm much more interested in the mid coast.....and I'll let you guys do the herping while I guard a beach camp and fishing poles.

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal - EC Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » February 19th, 2014, 6:53 am

Shane_TX wrote:Legal land access is not a problem on the upper TX coast, and probably the mid-coast for that matter.
How so? What land is accessible that you can legally herp on?

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » February 20th, 2014, 9:09 pm

Plenty, but we are talking about very thin strips of state and county land between crashing waves and muddy bays (between Surfside and San Luis Pass that I am sure of). There are some private properties in the mix but it's mostly public. Unusual to most Texans but it does exist. Duck hunters, fishermen and illegal dumpers take advantage of it all the time. It's great herping to some regards because a few charismatic species are abundant, but the species count is limited because for most herps, it's harsh.

I'm all for it in terms of proper coordination but not so much the herping. However, the mosquitoes have jaded me a bit over the years and I'm sure there are some good places to find terrapins on foot from the roads.

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Soopaman » February 20th, 2014, 9:41 pm

Shane_TX wrote:Plenty, but we are talking about very thin strips of state and county land between crashing waves and muddy bays (between Surfside and San Luis Pass that I am sure of). There are some private properties in the mix but it's mostly public. Unusual to most Texans but it does exist. Duck hunters, fishermen and illegal dumpers take advantage of it all the time. It's great herping to some regards because a few charismatic species are abundant, but the species count is limited because for most herps, it's harsh.

I'm all for it in terms of proper coordination but not so much the herping. However, the mosquitoes have jaded me a bit over the years and I'm sure there are some good places to find terrapins on foot from the roads.

Shane
Before April, I've had zero issues with mosquitoes in that area. Of course, I don't go out to the salt marshes (yuck!) Even in mid-May last year, I can't recall much in the way of mosquito problems. That shack we discussed last year, a bit further south, that used to be a bait camp, however, is one of the most mosquito infested places I've visited and is a true horror when they start up. Again, March 30th last year they weren't bugging us.

Though generally, I'm inclined to steer people away from areas that I herp and have flip stuff I like in its current condition.


I've looked at the maps for Matt's Galveston bay properties. The species list should be similar, and include stuff like diamondback terrapins for those inclined to that sort of thing :roll: :mrgreen:
There's debris to flip, so snakes should be easy to locate. There's mixture of marshes in the mix too, so clarkii and terrapins could be hiked up in that.

I'll be visiting the area and looking at it more closely in a couple of weeks, though that doesn't leave much time to decide if we want to go that route.
If we did, I don't think it should be the only place visited that weekend. A combination of that and Anahuac NWR could be good, or maybe even further south to San Bernard NWR.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by MAbernathy » February 21st, 2014, 6:29 am

Good morning all

So, I have the go ahead on my end if folks are interested in herping the Galveston Bay Foundation properties. If you decide to come down here, then we can discuss the specifics.

With that said, I also agree with Shane, that there will probably be a limited number of species, at least on Galveston Island. It is a pretty unique and specialized habitat that can produce some awesome specimens, but with limited diversity, especially after Hurricane Ike.

Another few options in this area that might make for decent trips would be:
Camp out at Brazos Bend State Park: Lots of land there, though I would recommend coordinating with staff there first. You would also be close to Brazoria NWR, San Bernard NWR, Justin Hurst WMA, and some coastal spots near Quintana & Freeport. Galveston Island would also be a quick drive for that.

For more pineywoods, camp at Lake Houston Wilderness Park in New Caney. They have a lot of land, but you would have to coordinate with the manager about access as most of the property is primitive. You would also be close to Jesse Jones Park in Humble, which is about 300 acres, and has a 7.5 mile trail along Spring Creek that connects to another 300 acre park. I used to work here, and permission would be fairly easy.

Last thought would be Stephen F. Austin State Park for camping. Lots of trails here, but they close them if they are too wet. You would also be close to Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR in Eagle Lake, but herping might be limited because it is breeding time for the prairie chickens. You could also coordinate with the Katy Prairie Conservancy for access to their properties.

Hope this helps.

Matt

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by gretzkyrh4 » February 25th, 2014, 5:57 am

So where do we stand on this guys? Anyone have a preference on location and date?

Sorry I haven't been too involved in the discussions. Hard to promise anything with my work schedule up in the air, but hopefully I should have a better idea of my schedule within the next week or two (waiting on the Feds to schedule an inspection) and can start working on a plan to join in.

Thanks again to those of you who took the lead on this.

Chris

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » March 1st, 2014, 10:10 pm

So where do we stand on this guys? Anyone have a preference on location and date?
I'd like to look for TX scarlet snakes. It's convenient too...March isn't the month so we're not in a hurry. Jeffro should be able to help with minutia.

I can't make the TX pineywoods or LA under any circumstances.

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » March 2nd, 2014, 5:17 pm

I kind of thought we were leaning towards the UTC right now. I was waiting to hear what Matt's spots in Galveston area looked like.

The Aransas proposal has been submitted, so we are waiting to hear what they say. The problem with Aransas right now is that there is NO water there at the moment because of the drought. Herps are around, but herping sucks there are the moment. I was down in that area yesterday and saw a few herps moving (see database), but the almost total absence of fresh water is really taking a toll. I did look at the WMA near the NWR and it is accessible in areas, but it isn't much for habitat diversity (fresh/saltwater marsh with a narrow riparian wooded corridor). There were logs to flip in the woodland but I'm not sure how productive it will be. But it is some land we can access.

I did think of another place we could go sometime if it ever rains in South Texas would be Chaparral Wildlife Manangement Area near Artesia Wells. It is tough herping, but there are some neat species in this habitat (Texas Tortoise, Reticulated Collared Lizard, Indigo Snakes). And the area is good for roadhunting, which is of course illegal....but if you happened to be driving down a road and something happened to be on it, you could certainly pull off and photograph it as long as you don't touch it or you are one someone's collecting permit. There aren't many "quiet" roads in that area anymore due to fracking truck traffic and my experience in the region over the last few years suggests herp roadhunting isn't what it used to be in the area due to this massive increase in traffic.
And it is a short 9 hours drive from New Orleans!

TX Scarletsnakes are a neat target, but you have to look for them by flipping (which only rarely works apparently) or road hunting. But most of the roads through their habitat are tough to access or are super busy. I'm not sure about their seasonal activity other than the fact that the can be cruised in late April and in July based on the three records in the database. :lol:

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » March 16th, 2014, 10:50 pm

Mid-coast it is. Plenty of public opportunity along the glistening, undeveloped coast and also inland opportunities as dusk nears. I already know some of the legal fieldherping places. More diverse, just as legal and more unexplored than the UTC all year long.

I don't live there though so will need some help with coordination.

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » March 18th, 2014, 5:31 am

Shane_TX wrote:Mid-coast it is. Plenty of public opportunity along the glistening, undeveloped coast and also inland opportunities as dusk nears. I already know some of the legal fieldherping places. More diverse, just as legal and more unexplored than the UTC all year long.

I don't live there though so will need some help with coordination.

Shane
But when and where?

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Jacob » March 19th, 2014, 6:54 am

I am in for what ever y'all decide. April 9-13th, I will be in West Texas herping and attending the herp meeting. Is the Texas Herp meeting still on the table? There will be students and herpers alike presenting opportunities for a diverse crowd. Lots of eyes in a great part of Texas.

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by Shane_TX » March 19th, 2014, 8:02 pm

chrish wrote:
Shane_TX wrote:Mid-coast it is. Plenty of public opportunity along the glistening, undeveloped coast and also inland opportunities as dusk nears. I already know some of the legal fieldherping places. More diverse, just as legal and more unexplored than the UTC all year long.

I don't live there though so will need some help with coordination.

Shane
:lol:
But when and where?
I think the where is somewhat easy in this case for the field aspect; public areas in sight of waves from Matagorda to Mustang Island for the mid-coast. The when, I dunno. I'll be mostly out of state until the end of April so don't have a preference. I can help with coordination though.

Shane

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by gretzkyrh4 » April 1st, 2014, 5:33 pm

Did anything ever become of this? My weekends are booked solid through mid-May at this point, but just curious if any plans have been made.

Chris

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Re: Spring Meeting Proposal -Somewhere in Texas April 4-6?

Post by chrish » April 1st, 2014, 7:34 pm

gretzkyrh4 wrote:Did anything ever become of this? My weekends are booked solid through mid-May at this point, but just curious if any plans have been made.

Chris
Died on the vine unfortunately because none of us had time to organize it. I did get my SUP submitted to Aransas so maybe we can get that to work out later in the year? I just need to submit one or two other documents to them.

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