The Warbler
newsletter of the Sierra Club Piney Woods Regional Group
March 2008, Volume 10 #3, Email Edition
http://www.texas.sierraclub.org/pineywoods

Join us for our next meeting: Tuesday, March 4, 7 p.m.
Room 211 of the Miller Science Building on the SFA campus
http://www.sfasu.edu/common/docs/sfasu_campus_map.pdf

SFA Gibson Entomarium: A unique natural history resource for East Texas;
Insect Surveys and their conservation impact in East Texas

Dr. Will Godwin, Adjunct Professor, SFA Department of Biology

The program will take place in the SFA insect collection.

Dr. Godwin give a short talk followed by a tour showing how the collection operates and what insect resources are available. Identification of endangered species of insects is a useful and important conservation strategy.

Dr. Will Godwin has been an adjunct professor at Stephen F. Austin State University for the past 5 years. He teaches ecology, mammalogy and manages the insect collection. He has been instrumental in the discovery of the American Burying Beetle, an endangered species in East Texas.

Dr. Godwin and the SFA entomology department currently have several new species that they are working on and are surveying insects in the Big Thicket and in caves of East Texas.

The goal of the Entomarium is to build a reference collection of the insects of East Texas. Dr. Godwin works in conjuction with Dr. William W. Gibson, senior entomologist, who has built up the collection since 1962. The SFA Gibson Entomarium is the third or fourth largest in the state, and the only one in East Texas. For more information on the SFA Gibson Entomarium:
http://listserv.uh.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0702&L=tx-ento&P=2345
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Thank you:
To Marilyn Eanes and Dian Avriett for furnishing refreshments for this month.
To Jeannette Singleton and Jane Christensen for the wonderful Mongolian- and Chinese-themed refreshments last month.

We have no hosts for the April meeting and we could use two. Please contact Ruth jaztoo@suddenlink.net if you can help out.
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Outings News:
There are outing in the works---watch your email box!
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Letter from the Chair:
Dear Friends of the Pineywoods Sierra Group,

We're in an exciting time. A busy time. An important time. My last letter mentioned the change in the air I was feeling. Next month we can continue to build that change.

We have a voice here in Texas that we haven't had in many years. The Texas primary will be important to the outcome of the Democratic Presidential nomination. Texas has 228 Democratic delegates, 32 are Superdelegates. Republicans have 140 delegates. The last time Texas played a major role in the Primary was in 1988 when Dukakis beat Jackson and Gore by a narrow margin. So please, remember to make time in your busy schedules to get out there on March 4th and vote! Make your voice heard.

Sometimes I still become amazed at our choices for this Presidential election. A woman, a black man, and a somewhat progressive conservative (well, at least on some things). Is America seeking a different way, or what?!? Let's make sure we continue to build the momentum for positive change with everything we do.

By the way, the Sierra Club has not yet endorsed a Presidential candidate. If you are interested or curious, feel free to consult Appendix A of the Sierra Club compliance guidelines to see how the Sierra Club tries to make its endorsement decisions. The guidelines can be found on the Clubhouse web site at: http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/politics/compliance/scpcguidelines/appendix-a.pdf

In case you are still undecided in how you will vote, there are a few good websites that help lay out each candidate's views on critical contemporary issues. Not all of the sites are thorough, and some are not completely accurate. It's up to you to decide what you find helpful in your decision-making. I've listed two examples that might be of use:
http://pewforum.org/religion08/ offers a more narrative format for each candidate on numerous issues.
http://www.2decide.com/table.htm offers a table of symbols that help to describe the candidates' positions.

However you decide to vote, I believe it will make a difference. And that is the most important thing.

Until next time,
Pam Blackledge

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Farmer's Market:
A community celebration will be held at the Farmer's Market on April 19th with music and children's activities. The music schedule is
Chris Edwards at 8:00,
Cindy Grayson at 8:45,
Michael Collins at 9:30,
Paul Martinez at 10:15
and The Wright Family; East Texas Dulcimers from 11:00 till they get tired of playing.
We will also have a food vendor. The market is currently open every Saturday morning.

If you are interested in helping with the April 19th event, contact Buckley at mailto:danabuckley@hotmail.com

Opportunity:
Jeanette Singleton has an exchange student coming who is very interested in environmental causes. If you would be interesting in hosting her, please contact Jeanette at: bjsingle_1985@hotmail.com
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Issues:
Menhaden fisheries
Save the Bait-Protect Menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico, (Information taken directly from the Gulf Restoration Network (www.healthygulf.org) materials)

Little Fish, BIG DEAL!
Menhaden, AKA pogie or bait, are a small, oily fish that play an extremely important role in the health of the Gulf of Mexico. They spend their short lives swimming in large schools filtering algae out of the water and converting it into their highly nutritious flesh. This provides a crucial link between the primary producers of energy - plants - and the upper levels of the food chain, including red drum, sharks, dolphins, pelicans, and a host of other sea life that rely on menhaden.

Few things work as well as menhaden to catch fish. What many people do not know is that the menhaden fishery is a big business; the second largest fishery in the US. Two companies, Omega Protein and Daybrook Fisheries catch on average more than 1 billion pounds of menhaden in the Gulf each year. The highly industrialized fishery uses planes to spot the fish and large factory boats with vacuums to suck up the fish from the large encircling nets deployed by smaller boats. The industry never sells any of this fish at a local market as no one eats menhaden directly. All of these fish are "reduced" into products such as fishmeal and fish oil for animal feed and other industrial uses.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recognizes the importance of menhaden and is proposing to cap the amount caught in Texas state waters based on the average catch in Texas state waters from 2002-2006. While this is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to ensure menhaden stay abundant and fulfill their role in the larger ecosystem.
What you can do:

Attend the public hearing in Nacogdoches on February 29th, at the Commissioners Courtroom, Room 170 on West Main at 7pm. If you can't attend the hearing, please send your comments to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.

For more information on this issue, and what conservation organizations are recommending be done to protect the menhaden fishery, please visit GRN's website at www.healthygulf.org/fisheries.
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Nueces River protection: (from Janice Bezanson, TCA)
Please write to Texas Parks and Wildlife!
Hi, Folks!
The Zavala County Commissioners Court has requested approval from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for a river access plan for the Nueces River that undermines the protections we worked so hard to get for our beleaguered Texas rivers. OUR RIVERS NEED YOUR HELP!

If approved, the draft access plan would allow vehicles to traverse a 13-mile stretch of the Nueces River riverbed and to cross at several points on the river (other than road bridges). River traffic would be allowed from 6 a.m. to midnight on vehicles with tires up to 38 inches.

The Nueces River has chronic problems with illegal vehicles in the river - roaring up and down the river and parking in the water (see photos below). This has led to rampant litter, frequent trespass on private property, repeated destruction of fences, and other illegal activities. Law enforcement is inadequate (to put it mildly). While these problems have lessened slightly since the passage of SB 155, they are still frequent, lead to chronic problems of trespass, and cause huge impacts to the fish, wildlife, and vegetation in and along the river.

The five road crossings in the 13-mile stretch provide adequate public access to the river. Two of the access points have county-owned land where the public can park their vehicles to access the river by foot or in a tube or kayak. One, called Salivar Park, is at a beautiful spot with a deeper pool. At another, at Hwy 83, the county owns 17 acres.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Send your comments to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by February 27 urging the staff to deny approval of the proposed Zavala County River Access Plan!

Send to: Texas Parks Wildlife Department
Att: Melissa Parker, Team Leader
Post Office Box 1685
San Marcos, Texas 78667

POINTS TO MAKE:
Illegal vehicles in the river are a chronic problem along this stretch of the Nueces that lead to trespass, property damage, litter, and a huge impact on fish, wildlife, and the native vegetation of the river and riverbank ecosystems. This river access plan would greatly exacerbate these problems.

The draft access plan calls for vehicles to stay "below the persistent vegetative line on rock and gravel bars". Vehicle drivers could not reach these gravel bars all the way up and down the river without either driving in the water or getting on to private property, neither of which is allowed by state law or TPWD's river access guidelines. Therefore, the plan should be denied.

The five bridge crossings in the 13-mile stretch of the river, two with county-owned land for parking vehicles, provide adequate public access to the river without the need to drive along the river bank.

Neither Zavala County nor Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has adequate law enforcement to keep vehicles out of the river, enforce curfews, or protect landowners from chronic trespass and property damage.

Even if enforced, the "restrictions" of the access plan are so minimal that they would not protect the fish, wildlife, water quality, and other natural resources, as is required by the TPWD guidelines established following SB 155.

If you are a landowner in the area and you were not contacted by Zavala County officials before the plan was adopted by the Commissioners Court, tell TPWD this in your comments. Coordination with landowners and anyone with jurisdiction over the area is a requirement of the process.

Concerned citizens in Zavala County have established a website, nuecesriver.org, where you can download the draft access plan and the guidelines for approval of the plan.

Holler if you have any questions!
Janice
Janice Bezanson, Executive Director
Texas Conservation Alliance
Formerly Texas Committee on Natural Resources (TCONR)
512-327-4119
Cell 512-921-1230
bezanson@texas.net
TCAtexas.org
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Global Warming:
SUSTAINABILITY NEWS OF THE WEEK:
NEW STUDIES TIE AGRO-FUELS TO GLOBAL WARMING
Two new studies published in the journal Science will hopefully Force Congress and the Bush Administration to think twice about the billions of federal tax dollars used to subsidize corn-based ethanol instead of other tried and tested programs such as energy conservation and solar or wind power. One study, conducted by Princeton University and Iowa State, concluded that over 30 years, use of traditional corn-based ethanol would produce twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline.

A companion study found that the current process of converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas and grasslands in Southeast Asia and Latin America to produce biofuels from soybeans and palm oil will increase global warming pollution for decades, if not centuries. In the last issue of Organic Bytes, the OCA called on readers to sign its ago-fuels petition. 
Learn more and take action here:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9980.cfm
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Trans-Texas Corridor:
Comments are due March 19, 2008
You can make comments at the Tx DOT website:
http://ttc.keeptexasmoving.com/comments_questions/comments_i69.aspx

In addition, be sure to write to your elected officials expressing your opposition to the Corridor. The definitive web site for corridor opposition is:http://www.corridorwatch.org/ttc/index.htm
Other sites:
www.texasturf.org
http://www.texastollparty.com/action_tellYourReps2.php
Beware the NAFTA Super Highway! Christopher Hayes - The Nation
http://www.banderasnews.com/0712/edat-superhighway.htm
NAFTA Highway Faces Uncertain Future, Mike Sunnucks - The Business Journal of Phoenix
http://www.banderasnews.com/0607/edat-naftahighway.htm

Do you need to know more about the Corridor? Below is a brief statement by Independent Texans on the subject with ten reasons why we are calling for a Congressional investigation and hearings.
Linda Curtis, Independent Texans, http://IndyTexans.org, PO Box 14294, Austin, TX 78761

Stop the Corridor Corruption
Independent Texans are universally opposed to Gov. Rick Perry's plans to put the massive 4,000 mile, 1,200 foot wide toll road network and utility corridor through the heart of Texas simply to allow more goods (primarily Chinese) to be imported in to the US through Mexican ports.

The Governor and his insider political friends in Austin and Washington, have cynically and, probably illegally, manipulated our political process to literally run over rural Texas and its people, many of whom are just hearing about this massive project.

Many of these good folk are heading to federal hearings being held as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, to find out whether they're one of the unlucky tens of thousands who stand to lose up to over 1 million acres of prime Texas farm and ranchland.

The "Tran-Texas Catastrophe", as former Republican Comptroller and an independent candidate, Carole Keeton Strayhorn called it in her 2006 bid for Governor, is universally opposed by all political parties in Texas, and has become a lightening bolt for the emergence of the Texas independent political movement. 1.3 million Texans voted independent in 2006, a full 31,000 votes ahead of the Democratic nominee, but we split our votes between two candidates, allowing Rick Perry to be reelected with only 39% of the vote.

Our day -- Texas Independent's Day -- is coming, as the extraordinary 2008 presidential race unfolds and Texans have a chance to weigh in. Help us reach out across the state and to make our voices heard!

Ten Reasons for a Congressional investigation and hearings on the Corridor are:
1. The Governor's claim that Texans voted for the Trans-Texas Corridor, when it was never placed on the ballot, nor were there ever meaningful public hearings asking Texans whether we wanted the Corridor.
2. A deceptive lobbying effort leading to the passage of a transportation omnibus bill (HB 3588) in 2003, implementing the Corridor.
3. Shifting billions in highway dollars to intimidate county and state officials who have questioned these projects.
4. An illegal lobbying by TxDOT of the federal government to allow federal highways to be converted to toll roads.
5. The misuse of public funds for the purpose of “selling” these projects to the public.
6. The withholding of public documents -- specifically, a signed contract with CINTRA, a Spanish-based toll road consortium, which appears to have favored status to build the Corridor.
7. CINTRA lobbyist, Dan Shelley's, employment with the Governor's office.
8. Interference by the Federal Highway Administration appointees with ties to CINTRA.
9. The refusal of officials to state the key purpose of the TTC – that it is primarily a trade route to move more imports (primarily Chinese) from Mexican ports in to the US.
10. The refusal to address the very real threat of this project to homeland security and the sovereignty of the United States.

Further, the Governor has chosen to ignore his own Business Council and nationally recognized transportation experts who suggest that, if Texas needs additional funds for roads, they should simply index the gas tax and consider a modest gas tax increase.

Last, Texans of all political persuasions believe that in order to justify the largest taking of private property in the history of the US that this project demands, Texans should have the right to vote on it. We have been afforded no such thing. We need federal action now!
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Upcoming Events:
NACOGDOCHES The SFA Mast Arboretum will host their annual Garden Gala Day on April 12, 2008 from 9 am until 2 pm at the SFA Intramural Fields on Wilson Drive.
This event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and their educational programs. All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. For more information and a list of plants for sale visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu and click on “upcoming events.
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29th Annual Texas Wilderness POW WOW
Different setting...different agenda! Join us and see what a difference can make.

29th Annual Texas Wilderness POW WOW in the Big Thicket National Preserve Village Creek State Park, Lumberton, TX April 25-26-27, 2008

Beautiful location and great facilities, wonderful nature walks and riverside campsites. Accommodations available for non-campers. Fun and education for youngsters and oldsters. Special events are planned and we've added an exciting Saturday evening group dinner. Bring the kids… there's an adjacent playground.

And, of course, you don't want to miss a great bonfire with entertainment by Bill Oliver and others. All ages will enjoy visiting the nearby Big Thicket Visitor's Center. For more information, see http://www.tconr.org/Home.html
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4th Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference hosted by SFASU in Nacogdoches, Texas.
May 28 - June 1, 2008
See http://pnpc.sfasu.edu/brochure.pdf for more details

Attached is a flyer about the TLC Ivy Payne outing.

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The Warbler
Newsletter of the Pineywoods Sierra Group
Vicki Baggett, editor
http://www.texas.sierraclub.org/pineywoods/index.asp

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
~John Muir