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News: Paddling Texas: A Guide to the State’s Best Paddling Routes available for order.

Waves of live music, heaps of barbecue, personalities like Kinky, tireless Texas fight football fans, electric get-downs on 6th Street, it’s all right here. And still people treat each other like neighbors – Austin is just right.

Even so, that urban just right can bake on like sun-dried mud. When it does, it can only be scraped off in the outdoors. Luckily, Austin has some of that too. It’s in the rivers and ravines and with the waterfolk and wildlife that are Bat City outdoors.

Here you’ll find stories about the outdoors in Austin and beyond. And, you’ll find information to help get you out there.

Thanks for reading,
Shane Townsend

Bat City Outdoors |
From Austin. For Outdoorsfolk Everywhere.

 

Southern Game of Games

Southern Game of Games: Watching sports you don’t care about with people you do.

American by birth and Southern by the grace of God. Boom! That’s the native Southerner’s mantra. It’s got pop, power, umph –bawls. For a long while, folks beyond the land of grits and gravy didn’t feel that. But, a new drum’s beating. Anthony Bourdain discovered Mississippi. Paul Theroux swung through to take in a soulful narrative or two. Southern accents are sexy. Bam! Our beats and gritty tunes are a national treasure. And our farm-fur-fin-and-feather-to-fork lifeways are culturally significant. Pow! Not since the introduction of the air conditioner has the sultry South been so fucking cool.

Pilgrims and transplants are pouring in enamored of Sweet-tea-landia and proudly Southern by the grace of Subarus and east coast salaries. If this is you, chin up. You’re as welcome as the Texas rain. As long as you act right.

To act right is to know how seriously the South takes sports…

Read the full story in GAFF Magazine here.

Restoring the Gulf Mexico: New Report By Vanishing Paradise

Today, one of America’s leading wildlife conservation groups released a report outlining 47 projects that would improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the 2010 oil spill.

“We can’t undo the oil spill, but we can take concrete steps to make the Gulf of Mexico a better place for fish and wildlife,” said Steve Bender, director of National Wildlife Federation’s Vanishing Paradise campaign. “This type of comprehensive habitat restoration will measurably boost populations of fish and waterfowl.”

Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities takes a broad look at restoration efforts that would benefit all five Gulf Coast states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The recommendations emphasize restoring the areas where rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico, such as the Mississippi River Delta. These places are important nurseries for marine life and provide wintering habitat for waterfowl.

Money for restoration projects could come from the billions that BP and the other companies responsible for the 2010 spill will pay in fines and penalties. Much of this money will ultimately be distributed to the Gulf states for restoration.

“Over the past hundred years, we’ve made major changes to the way our rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico,” added Bender. “The results have not been pretty for fish and wildlife. Restoring degraded coastal habitats will help numerous species of fish and these habitats are also critical for the millions of waterfowl that winter or stopover on the Gulf Coast.”

The report’s 47 proposals can be grouped into these five general categories:

Restoring Wetlands: Wetlands play a critical role in the Gulf ecosystem—creating habitat for fish and wildlife, filtering pollutants, stabilizing shorelines and providing protection from storms. Over the past eight decades, the Gulf Coast has lost an area of wetlands larger than the state of state of Delaware, largely in the area of Louisiana known as the Mississippi River Delta.

Restoring Sediment: The Mississippi River is hemmed in by man-made levees; the river sediment that once nourished the delta’s wetlands is now propelled deep into the Gulf. If all of the 19 recommended projects in Louisiana were built, together they would sustain, restore and rebuild as many as 300 square miles of wetlands that would otherwise be lost by 2060.

Restoring the Balance between Fresh and Saltwater: Estuaries are created where fresh water from rivers mixes with saltwater from the Gulf. In most of the Gulf’s estuaries the natural balance of fresh and salt water has been dramatically altered. The report recommends fixes for many of the Gulf’s major estuaries, including the Everglades and Apalachicola Bay in Florida as well as five systems in Texas.
Restoring Oyster Reefs: An adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day, and oyster reefs provide important habitat for many economically important species of fish, such as redfish, shrimp, and blue crabs. Oyster reefs also create physical structures that can protect coastal communities from storms. Restoring oyster reefs is a key element in several of the recommended projects in the report, for example in Mississippi’s Biloxi Bay and Bay St.

Protecting Critical Landscapes: In a few select places, the report recommends purchasing key parcels of coastal lands to protect them in perpetuity. For example, the report recommends adding lands to Alabama’s Grand Bay and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuges.

The report is aimed at informing a series of decisions that will be ultimately made for funds flowing from the Gulf oil disaster, including those to be made by Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The federal-state council is tasked with implementing a comprehensive restoration plan to include a list of projects prioritized for their impact on the Gulf ecosystem. The council recently released a list of projects and programs proposed for funding with oil spill penalty money.

“America’s hunters and anglers want to enjoy a restored Gulf of Mexico,” said Bender. “We owe it to future generations to make sure the oil spill dollars are spent on projects that will really make a difference.”

CONTACT:

Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation, 512.610.7765, mccormick@nwf.org

To find out more about Vanishing Paradise, visit http://vanishingparadise.org. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/vanishingparadise or on Twitter: @vanishparadise.

San Marcos: A paddling community like no other

On Labor Day, some sullen soul dragged this year’s last Lion’s Club’s tube out of the river. Bare toes have since been covered with shoes. Shirts have sprouted sleeves. And with the turning of the leaves, the idea of sitting in an ice-water-recliner has lost its appeal. Tubing season is officially over.

The good news:

In Texas – a state with more than 3,700 streams, 15 rivers and 3,300 miles of coastline –most every day is paddling season.

And, the river town of San Marcos is a paddling community like no other.

 

10 things that make San Marcos a paddling community like no other:


1. Wildlife to Wild Rice: The San Marcos River has something for birders, anglers, and paddlers of every stroke. Spring Lake is home to the Texas blind salamander and other endangered species. Texas Wild Rice is found nowhere in the world except for the first two miles of the river. Deer, turkeys, hogs, and countless bird and fish species are common companions along the river.

2. When the Tubes are Away, the Boats will Play: Drop a boat in the water in the fall and winter and you may have the river and wildlife all to yourself – especially on weekdays.

3. The Sacred Headwaters: The San Marcos River starts at Spring Lake at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. Archaeological evidence shows people have lived here for 13,000 years. Each year, Native peoples celebrate these headwaters; and still today, the San Marcos River is critical to people from San Marcos to the San Antonio Bay.

Read the full story here.

Venison Donations Feed 11 Million

For food banks nationwide, acquiring protein is a challenge because of the high cost of meat. Fortunately during hunting season, hunters help make up the shortfall with generous donations of protein-rich, low-fat venison that provide 11 million meals annually to the less fortunate.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, reports that, thanks to hunters, an estimated 2.8 million pounds of game meat makes its way each year to food pantries, church kitchens and shelters and onto the plates of those in need.

“Without venison, some of these organizations would not have protein, wouldn’t have meat, to give to those folks who are coming in,” said Peter Aldrich of Hunt To Feed in Connecticut.

With one deer able to feed up to 200 people, it’s easy to see how important donations of hunter-harvested venison are to charitable food providers. Last year in Missouri, for example, 4,500 hunters donated more than 227,000 pounds of venison through a state program.

The NSSF video called Share Your Harvest encourages hunters to contribute some portion of their harvest this hunting season. “If you have a successful hunting season, donating venison is a way to make it an even better and more meaningful one,” points out Glenn Sapir, the video’s host.

Many states have at least one organization that will accept donations of venison or other game meat and ensure it is properly processed and reaches individuals and families in need of a nutritious meal. The NSSF website Hunters Feed can assist hunters in finding a charitable food provider, and your state wildlife agency, local fish and game club or food pantry can help as well. Various donation guidelines may apply, so it’s best to check with the organization or processor before bringing in your game.

If you’re not a hunter and wish to be part of this caring effort, most organizations will accept donations to help pay for butchering and other services.

The tradition of hunters donating deer and other game for charitable purposes is longstanding, and the impact of that generosity is told in NSSF’s infographic, Hunters Feed Those in Need.

About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.

Eating Orphans: An innovative solution

If you love it, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. That’s a beautiful old sentiment.

Here’s one from this year: If there’s only three, let someone shoot one for four million Namibian dollars; and if the money can’t save the species at least the last two can live out their days as royalty.

Fair enough. There’s logic in that – a sacrifice-the-one-to-save-the-many battlefield triage kind of logic I hadn’t applied to conservation. But 97,523 self-proclaimed LinkedInnovators say this is the innovation generation. It’s true. We’re reformers. We’ve made our poor people fat and rich ones skinny. We’ve segregated kids from elders and now they both plump up, dope up, and rot away in and on HD. We’ve ignored our farm-fur-fin-and-feather-to-fork-food-chain so long that its future rests infirmly in the pasty, soft, slender hands of hunt-and-gather-hipsters. Now, we’re contract killing for conservation. Beneficiary: Endangered black rhinos. Awesome.

Read the full story here at GAFF Magazine.