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FUN LIST State Parks State Fair Beaches Museums

EXPLORE Places of Interest Rivers Cities Plants Animals Climates


Nathan Abrahams

Ruby Dachis

Yotam de Koning

Max Domel

Josh Gilbert

Mira Ginor

Noah Gorelick

Katie Hendler

Aiden Horwitz

Noa Korbin-Brody

Caleb Legatt

Ally Sapire

Ben Sheinberg

Carly Silverstein

Sebastian Soltes

Liora Susswein

Eddie Vane

Jessica Woskow Rafi Zeifman

Kathy Rosenmann, 4th Grade Teacher Michele Rosen, Technology Specialist


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Big Bend Country

Let’s explore Texas’s most remote region. The beauty of the mountains and basins region is breathtaking!

Feature Articles Diamond back Rattlesnakes!

Big Bend State Park

Alligator Juniper Tree

Amazing Landforms


Marfa! Rio Grande


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Big Bend State Park By Yotam de Koning Have you ever thought about taking a trip to Big Bend Ranch State Park? Well sit back and learn all about this.

Nature First, you were probably wondering where Big Bend Ranch State park is located. It is located in far west Texas in the high desert setting of the northern Chihuahua Desert. The climate in the summers is hot, but winters are mild and not much rain falls. You better believe the scenery is magnificent. There are over 1,200 species of plants in this region. Amazingly, the oldest rocks began as ocean sediment over 500 million years ago. They were folded and faulted into ancient mountains around 300 million years ago, creating breathtaking mountain ranges. The Rio Grande River that has carved out some amazing canyons here. Let’s not forget the animals in the park. Would you believe that the Big Bend country region has thirty different snakes and seven that are poisonous?

Activities You must be wondering what kind of things you can do in Big Bend Ranch State Park? There is mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and also nature viewing, just to name a few. Many people find squirrels when they are hiking and sometimes even black bears. If you see a black bear make sure stand still and walk back slowly. If you are lucky, you might also find a mountain lion.

FUN FACT Have you ever wanted to know what the resources in the Mountains and Basins Region are? Well, the wait is over. You’ve got cattle, gas, oil, pecans, cotton, fruit, rivers and limestone.


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Big Bend’s Rattlesnakes By Katie Hendler

Would you believe that the Big Bend region of Texas has thirty different snakes and seven that are poisonous? Well it’s true. Let’s explore the slithering serpents in the beautiful Mountains and Basins. It’s easy to tell when you come across a rattlesnake because you will hear the deadly shake of its rattle. Many may recognize the diamond back rattlesnake by the triangular shaped head and diamond shaped pattern across its back, which looks almost leopard-like. Of course, the tail is tipped with an ugly yellow rattle. They slither along the crusty dry soil waiting for prey, mostly mice, rats, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels. These animals are pit vipers. This means they can sense heat in the back of their nostrils. The rattlesnake strike is lightning fast, and their venomous bite is deadly. So remember to be careful where you step if you visit Big Bend. These serpents are commonly located along the Trans Pecos River. While these snakes can be found scattered all over Texas, you will see them the most in the Big Bend eco-region. On a hot summer day, Diamondbacks love to coil in the shade of low-growing shrubs or under rocks. They also like to hang out in the underground burrows of other animals. In the winter, they hide in caves or other places to hibernate. You might be wondering what to do if you come across a rattle snake. If you see one, back away slowly or don't move at all. Pretend you're a rock or tree. Don’t try to scare one away. You won't be happy with the results. Don’t worry there’s a small chance that you will get bitten. Amazingly, you can find a way out of the scaly situation. Now that you know their location, what to do if you see them, and what they look like and what they eat, come see for yourself! Mountains and Basins region is a snaky wonderland.


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Alligator Juniper by Katie Hendler Let’s imagine walking along on your first hike at the mountains and basins looking at everything curiously. Then you see the short alligator juniper tree. Its breathtaking smell lures you towards it to break off a piece. The piney plant is located on the green counties in the map. It lives in the Texas mountain savanna, mountain grasslands and mountain meadows. Did you know it grows up to five feet? The bark was a resource for sandals, mats and basket fibers for Native Americans. The cones were used for necklace beads and for seasoning meats. There is no question that the alligator juniper is a unique Texas tree.

The Rio Grande of the Mountains and Basins by Katie Hendler Would you believe the rushing Rio Grande is 3,000 km long? It’s true. The Rio Grande runs across the southern part of the Mountains and Basins in Texas. It’s one of the biggest rivers in America and is the twentieth biggest river in the world! It forms the entire border between Texas and Mexico. This sometimes rushing river has carved out steep canyon walls, forming a breathtaking landscape. I highly recommend a river rafting trip to fully appreciate the beauty of this river. In some places it’s very shallow, so don’t try to fish.


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Marfa By Rafi Zeifman Let’s take a look at Marfa, Texas. It’s a really hip artist community in the middle of the desert in the Big Bend area where you can check out cool art museums, see the awesome and colorful Marfa Lights and visit some very interesting restaurants and stores. Let’s get going! If you want to see great art, Marfa is the place to go. Marfa has a thriving artist community that started back in 1971 when artist Donald Judd moved there from New York City. Judd was a minimalist artist who created the artist community when he bought a large hanger to permanently display his art. Judd’s art can still be seen in Marfa at the Chinati Foundation and in recent years a new wave of artists have moved into Marfa. So, put on your walking shoes and visit the many eclectic museums in Marfa, including the Arber and Son Edition, Ayn Foundation, Ballroom Marfa or the Marfa Contemporary.

Downtown Marfa

knicknacks. There are lots interesting stores in Marfa like the Cobra Rock Boot Company, where you can see the owners take cowhide and make fancy boots right in front of you. That is pretty amazing. What’s so great about Marfa? Well, you’ve got beautiful art, the mysterious Marfa Lights, unusual dining and funky shops. I’m sold, are you?

Finally, if you like unique dining and hip shops, then Marfa is the place for you! For example, there is the Food Shark. Allison D of Cambridge, United Kingdom said she “read about Food Shark in the Lonely Planet travel guide and as we found ourselves in Marfa for a couple of hours at lunchtime we had to try it. Daily specials had sold out already but the Marfalafel and the combo plate were hot, fresh, beautifully presented and absolutely delicious! What a great place - wish they had a branch in our home town in England!!” After you chow down, you may want to take a hike over to Dolores for mod ranch furnishing and obscure


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Trans Pecos Landforms By Rafi Zeifman Do you realize that the Mountains and Basins region is filled with amazing landforms? This region has varying landforms including, desert valleys, plateaus and wooded mountain slopes. Elevations range from 2,500 feet to more than 8,749 feet at Guadalupe Peak. Are you aware that the Trans Pecos area is made up of volcanic rocks and limestone? Let me tell you about the diversity of the Mountains and Basins region. There are the Sandhills in Monahans Sandhills State Park where you can visit the giant Sand Dunes. You may see many flat topped mesas intersected by steep walled canyons and dry washes that comprise the Stockton Plateau. In the Salt Basin area you may come across soils with high salt content and gypsum dunes. The Desert Scrub subregion has very low rainfall and rapid drainage. So, be careful if there are floods. You’ll soon discover how amazing the landforms in the Mountains and Basins region are. So hurry up and visit the Creosote Bush flats, the Desert Grasslands and the beautiful Mountain Ranges of the Trans Pecos region.

Climate in the Mountains and Basins By Rafi Zeifman Let’s explore the climate of the Mountains and Basins region. The dangerous heat in this region can be life threatening. The temperature in 1994 reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Monahans, Texas. This tied the Texas state record for highest temperature. This area is very dry and hot like a sauna. The hottest month is June and the average high temperature for June is 94.2 degrees. The coldest month is January and its average low temperature is 35.0 degrees. It is interesting to note that the Mountains and Basins Region has very little rainfall. Usually, the driest month is March, with 0.31 inches of rain. The wettest month is August, with 2.35 inches of rain. Wow, that is dry! Without a doubt, sunshine is very abundant in the Mountains and Basins region. Snowfall is rare, however cold fronts can bring temperatures well below freezing. If you ever go to the Mountains and Basins region you need to be aware of the hot and dry weather and make sure to bring a big hat, sunscreen and a lot of water. Have a good trip!

Gulf Coast of

Texas By: Carly, Jessica, and Ben

An Ecoregion Adventure!

Come explore all that our Gulf Coast has to offer! Resources, Plants, Weather, Animals, Places of Interest, State parks, Landforms, And Cities

Focus Articles Hurricanes In The Gulf

Places Of Interest

Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake

GULF COASTAL PLAINS Texas’s Best Kept Secret: The Gulf Coastal Plains by: Jessica Deer Woskow

There is no doubt that the Gulf Coast of Texas is a one-of-a kind. Beautiful beaches, NASA, and the Gulf Coast Aquarium are just a few of the points of interest you will find in this region of Texas. The white sandy beaches and blue/ green waters of Texas’s Gulf of Mexico is reason enough to pay a visit to the Gulf Coast of Texas, but there are many other attractions you may not be familiar with. Let’s explore some of the Gulf Coast’s top attractions. No trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas is complete without spending time on the marvelous coastline. Texas’s Gulf of Coast has 600 miles of coastline and beautiful white sand you can lay on or squeeze between your toes. The South Padre Islands are located in the tropical tips of Texas. It is bordered by Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. The barely populated barrier islands beaches are the longest in the world and amazing to look at, including the famous Padre Island National Seashore. The crystal blue waters are full of dolphins dancing in the waves. The shoreline is packed with wildlife, especially migratory birds from all over the world. There are plenty of endangered species that you might see hiding in the sand or in the salt grass. For example, these shores are nesting grounds for sea turtles to lay eggs. The whooping cranes and manatees call these shores their home too. Not to mention, the water in the Gulf of Coastal Plains is surprisingly warm, averaging in the mid 80’s in the summer, so if you love to surf, this is the place for you. Without a doubt, the waters and beaches of Texas’s coast are beautiful. Have you ever touched a moon rock or seen a space shuttle launch? Just 20 minutes from one of Texas’s popular coastal towns, Galveston, is the Nasa Space Center. There you can discover how NASA has managed to put a man on the moon and send a space shuttle to

FALL 2013 the space station. Did you know the international space center orbits the Earth at 17,000 miles an hour? You will see live presentations, artifacts, and displays. For people who are interested in space, you will definitely be amazed. When you do visit the Gulf Coast, you certainly don’t want to miss out on the Texas State Aquarium. The Aquarium has a lot of different of displays of fish which are native to the Gulf of Mexico, including a few of exotic species. There are programs happening all day long, including dolphin presentations, dive encounters, reptile report, birds of prey, and much more. There are also a number of special and amazing events throughout the year and several educational programs, including the popular Sea Camp and Sea Squirt programs. There is no question this aquarium is fun for the whole family. There are also a number of special events throughout the year and several educational programs, including the popular Sea Camp and Sea Squirt. Texans love to visit this subtropical paradise because of the beaches, and interesting places to visit. So come on down and check us out!



FALL 2013 tour for the day. Of course, there is always fishing, surfing, swimming, and sailing to fall back on!

By Carly Silverstein With 32 miles of beach, Galveston is a Gulf Coast treasure. This city, located on Galveston Island, is full of Texas treasures. Once a hunting ground for the Karankawa Indians, then a pirate settlement, and even later a port for the Texas navy; today Galveston is a coastal city with something for everyone. Do you like waterparks? Schlitterbahn

Galveston Waterpark is one of the most famous water parks in all of the U.S. It contains tube chutes, water tanks, and a heating section so the park is open throughout the year! Perhaps you are more of an architecture fan? The Bishop’s Palace Museum is also really famous. In fact, it was voted one of the top 100 buildings in America! You might want to check out it’s fascinating artifacts and maybe even set up a

So, next time you’re looking for a family vacation, or just by yourself, make sure to check out what Galveston has to offer.

Marshlands By: Carly Silverstein Interestingly enough, most of Texas’s Gulf Coast is marshlands. A marshland is made up of marshes, which are wetlands covered with grasses, shrubs, reeds, and bushes. These exciting landforms can often be found at the edges of lakes and streams. Most marshes are freshwater marshes, but they can be saltwater too, like many of them found in the Gulf Coastal Plains. Wet meadows, vernal pools, and Playa lakes are the different types of freshwater marshlands that you can find here too. You better believe that marshlands are habitat to many species of plants and animals. Did you know that marshes are helpful? They are able to ab-

sorb water during heavy rainfall and slowly release it into waterways and keep the area from flooding. Now that you know a little more about marshlands, why don’t you go to Texas’s Gulf Coast and explore the breathtaking marshlands and maybe take a little swim in the natural water.


Gulf Coast Hazards: Hurricanes Carly Silverstein

Have you ever had the misfortune of experiencing a hurricane? Well, if you live in the Gulf Coast of Texas, you just might. These devastating, yet fascinating weather systems have been hitting the Gulf Coast of Texas for centuries! You have probably wondered what a hurricane is and how it is formed. Well, a hurricane is an intense, rotating weather system that travels at extraordinary speeds, blowing wind every which way. When it is summertime, and the water is warm, great winds appear called a hurricane, spinning counterclockwise at first, but then it weakens and begins to spin clockwise. When these winds come up out of the water, they are at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They are very damaging and life threatening to people, property, and nature.

FALL 2013 Not surprisingly, the Gulf Coast of Texas has been hit by some devastating hurricanes in the past. On September 8th 1900, the Galveston Hurricane slammed into the Texas coast. It was a category 4 hurricane that zipped through Galveston, killing an estimated 10,000 people, as well as knocking down houses and many buildings! A survivor said, “All at once the house went from its foundation and the water came in waist-deep!”. This was one of the most deadly hurricanes in the country because of how much damage it had created for Galveston. This destructive hurricane was traveling at the speed of 145 miles per hour! While there have been a number of hurricanes to hit the coast since then, none have been so devastating as the Hurricane of 1900. Is a hurricane coming your way? If so, then follow these tips: If you don’t have a basement, go to a small closet or bathroom with no windows. Make sure to bring a radio with you, so you can hear what’s going on outside. Stay there until it’s all clear. Before a hurricane actually happens, you will see a greenish-black color in the sky. There is silence and calmness before the storm, then it hits a large area for a while. If the eye of the hurricane passes over you, you hear silence once again, so don’t be fooled and think it’s over because that quickly passes and the wind starts up again. If a hurricane is coming your way, examine your home and find out what type of hurricane it is. This is so you can know if you should stay, or leave for a shelter. So, now that you are aware of how a hurricane is formed, and what to do if you’re caught in one, go ahead and plan a trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas! Just remember, if you decide to come in the summertime, be sure to check the weather forecast to see if there is going to be a hurricane coming your way.


GULF COAST RIBBON SNAKE BY Ben Sheinberg Do you love snakes? If your answer is yes, then the Gulf coastal plains is the best place for you with a variety of snakes of every kind! Venomous or nonaggressive, this region has it all. My personal favorite is the western ribbon snake with its majestic pale-yellow body. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting Gulf Coast species. The reasons I love this snake is because is first, it’s not poisonous, and second, it looks cool. Did you know the ribbon snake rises when it’s about to attack? Plus they are everywhere in the Gulf Coast! But don't worry; they only eat things like frogs and small lizard and rarely other ribbon snakes. They may bite you if you bother them, but they are not venomous. The slithering serpent has a yellow stripe down the middle and a black body with frog-like eyes. It has a skinny body and a very long tail. Because it is a brownish black color, it may be hard to spot slithering through the dirt, except of course for its yellow stripe. Its belly is a creamy white like milk. The head of this serpent is much wider than the neck. Now that you know what it looks like, let’s explore the habitat. You already know that this snake is found in the Gulf Coastal Plains, but where? It might be seen slithering through brushy or

FALL 2013 grassy areas close to water, like marshes, ponds, rivers, streams, or lakes. There is no doubt that the Gulf Coast Ribbon snake is one of Texas’s coolest snakes!

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site By Ben Sheinberg If you are looking for a great state park in the Texas Gulf Coastal Plains then you should go to San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The 1,200 acre park is located near Houston. If you go, don’t miss out on the realistic reenactment of the war for Texas independence from Mexico. The Texas army fought the Mexican army led by Santa Anna on April 21, 1836. In fact, boy scouts can earn a badge by going on the Battleground walking tour. Also, check out the Museum of History to see all of the artifacts and dioramas, as well as a giant collection of books and documents. So if you ever visit Houston, check out all the amazing things there are at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

By: Sebastian, Eddie and Eli

Let’s explore one of Texas’s most unique regions, the Texas Panhandle!

Featuring Oil Occupying the Texas Panhandle By Eddie Vane

Page 2 Where Did the Buffalo Go? By Sebastian Soltes

Page 3 All About Abilene By Eli Meyers

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Oil Occupying the Texas Panhandle By Eddie Vane

Nicknamed Black Gold, oil is as much a part of Texas as cowboys and barbeque? Let’s take a look at how Texas, and specifically the Panhandle Plains, became famous for its crude. Have you ever wondered how Texas became famous for its oil? Oil was first discovered in Texas by Native Americans in the 1500’s. The oil was found floating on water, and it is rumored that the Indians used it for medicinal purposes. However, it wasn’t until the famous 1901 Oil Boom, when the Spindletop well started erupting petroleum oil for weeks non-stop, that Texans knew they had struck it rich! With the invention of the combustion engine came an enormous need for oil all over the world, and Texas was there to provide it! Drilling began all over Texas, including the Panhandle Plains where in 1921 oil was first found. This discovery leads to the discovery of Panhandle Field. By 1928, Texas was named the top oil-producing state in the U.S., a great achievement. Since the discovery of oil, not only did the state treasury bulge, so did the pockets of many entrepreneurs. There is no doubt that the Panhandle discoveries had a vast contribution in that achievement.

No discussion of Texas oil is complete without mentioning the Panhandle Field (You can probably figure why it is called that). Oil was first found in Panhandle Field in the year 1910, about 103 years ago. This enormous oil field covers 275,000 square acres of land, making it the biggest oil field in the whole Texas panhandle. Even though it is a huge field, it only produces petroleum oil, a common type found in Texas (unless or course another pocket of new oil) . You’re probably thinking that the field is just one huge oil well, but its not, in fact, Panhandle Field contains 4,499 different oil wells scattered across its vast landmass. One final fact that blew my mind and will probably blow yours about Panhandle Field is that this field produces about 346.8 million barrels a year! Let me fill you in on the characteristics of petroleum oil, a common type found in the Texas Panhandle. One amazing fact about petroleum oil is that it is made out of dead plant matter, like seaweed and grasses. The reason that Texas is filled with oil is that Texas used to be under the sea, covered in seaweed that died and over time created oil. If you or your parents drive a car, truck or even an airplane, they drive a machine that runs on petroleum-based gasoline. Even though there are many of “ups” to petroleum, there is a “down” and that is that petroleum oil pollutes the air, water, and good soil. Without a doubt, Texas’s role in oil production is epic. It’s discovery changed the face of not only Texas, but the world.

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Did you know that today less than 200,000 buffalo are left on the face of the earth and they live in preserves raised for their meat? These majestic creatures once roamed the High Plains of Texas by the millions. So where did they go? Let’s uncover more about these interesting animals and why they are on the brink of extinction.

Try to visualize the buffalo that you may have seen on a rainy day in a old western movie. Typically, the buffalo is the heaviest land animal in North America, weighing in at a ton and standing 5-6 feet tall. It has long, curved, hollow, sharp horns that are over 2 feet long. But don’t think these massive mammals are slow. They can run up to speeds of over 40 miles an hour. You may recognize the buffalo by their long, shaggy beards, their thick necks and big humps on their backs. Let’s explore the history of the American Plains Indians and their relationship with the buffalo. 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, Paleo-American moved down to the Texas panhandle and were confronted with an amazing sight, millions of buffalo grazing on the tall grasses. The Indians relied on the buffalo for everything, including: food, the hides for shelter and clothing, the stomach for buckets, cups, and basins, the sinew for glue thread and bows, the tail for whips, decoration, and fly swatters, the horns for cups, spoons, toys, and ladles, the bones for hoes, shovels, clubs, and knives, and the hooves for glue, toys and rattles. After the Indians acquired horses from the Spanish, they become even more reliant on the buffalo, following their herds where ever they went. By now you’re probably wondering where the both the Indians and the buffalo went. An explorer once said, “When the buffalo are extinct, the native people too must dwindle away.” By 1860 the white settlers were moving across the plains and they wanted the land for cattle, but both the Indians and the buffalo were standing in their way. Soon a policy was established to remove the Indians by moving them to reservations and slaughtering all of the buffalo, which they did. As a result, by 1885 only 200 buffalo were left in the world. The world will never again see millions of buffalo grazing on grasses in the Plains, but numbers have increased in the last 50 years due to preservation efforts. 200,000 buffalo live in reserves where they bred for their meat.

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Would you like to visit a very historical place with a lot of things to do? Then you should come to Abilene, a city in north central Texas! It may surprise you that there are many things to do in Abilene. For example, people in Abilene play an old type of baseball called vintage baseball. In vintage baseball, a ground ball is called a daisy cut, fans are called cranks, you pitch underhand, and throwing the ball is called hurling the apple. You don’t want to miss the Abilene Zoo, which boasts more than 900 animals including 250 different species! Before you leave town, be sure to visit the Frontier Texas. It is one of the few museums to have life-size holographic figures.“Each person steps up to tell their own story” exclaimed Jeff Salmon.

Surely, Abilene is a place with Abilene’s history is very interesting. Before Abilene was a state, nomadic Indians roamed the high plains. Then, people with their cows came and kicked out the Indians. Abilene grew from an auction of small pieces of land in 1881 to a city with 117,000 people. This town was established because of the Texas & Pacific railroad. As a result, Abilene is very historical. Did you know that Jews live in Abilene? Today, there are 20 families in a congregation called Congregation Mizpah, founded in 1941. It took them four years to hire their first rabbi, Rabbi Aaron Klausner, in 1945. In 1914, Max Mellinger moved to Abilene right next door to Lyndon Baines Johnson and claims to have sold him his first pair of trousers! Throughout Abilene’s history, there have been few, yet interesting Jews. If you visit, be sure to stop by Frontier Texas to learn some history and the Abilene Zoo to see lots of animals. If you have time to spare, play vintage baseball, and check out the Grace Museum’s historical building and Texas art.

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THE LESSER BIRD PRAIRIE CHICKEN By: Sebastian Soltes Have you ever been woken to the low booming sound of the lesser bird prairie chicken? Well if you live in the Texas Panhandle you might. The call of these birds has been known to travel a distance of over two miles! The lesser bird prairie chicken has an interesting back story. When it yells or yodels, air sacks on its neck inflate making huge balls on the side of the neck. Another interesting fact is that when females produce eggs they only have a 15 % chance of turn into a chicken correctly. Also, the lesser bird chicken only lives 5 years if it is lucky, because it is a huge prey for coyotes, owls, snakes and skunks. The lesser bird chicken can usually be found in bigger groups. In fact, in 1997, 2 field workers found a breeding site of 36,100 chickens! Now that’s a lot of chickens!

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CAPROCK CANYON By Sebastian Soltes "Imagine a place where marbled red rock canyons slice through a vast landscape dominated by table top-flat plains, where miniature mountains pierce an azure sky, where historic railroad bridges seem to float in space, and the descendants of ancient bison herds graze native grasses. Welcome to one of Texas' best kept secrets -- Caprock Canyons State Park." Caprock Canyon, located in the remote High Plains of Texas is a hiker and mountain biker’s paradise! With over 64 miles of trails, this is the perfect place to get out and walk run or bike. The rugged beauty of the canyons was created over millions of years by the erosion of water and wind through the Caprock Escarpment. Caprock is very colorful. “I loved the contrast of the vivid red rocks and ground, the numerous shades of green grasses, shrubs, and trees, the bright blue sky, and billowy white clouds,” commented Kathy Rosenmann, a former visitor to Caprock Canyon. While hiking through the park, you will probably see some the many plants and animals that thrive there. Coyotes are one of the species that inhabit Caprock Canyons State Park. Also common are mule and whitetail deer, bobcats, pronghorn antelope, African aoudad sheep, and smaller mammals like grey fox, possums, jackrabbits, raccoons, and porcupines. Few people realize that Caprock Canyon State Park is one of the few places left in the world where you can still find a small herd of buffalo. Visitors can watch the herd from the cliff behind the visitor center near the park entrance. A covered overlook has two telescopes for close-up views of the bison Without a doubt, Caprock Canyon is like stepping back into time. The remote natural beauty is one of a kind!

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Can you imagine a lot of cars nose first in the ground? Cadillac Ranch is a place just outside of Amarillo where Ant Farm, a group of art hippies from San Francisco, shoved 11 Cadillac’s in one of Stanley Marsh 3’s three farms so everyone could see the tail fins. Believe it or not, graffiti is allowed and kind of encouraged. But if you do spray paint something, quickly take a picture because it will likely be spray painted over within an hour. Cadillac Ranch is so popular to international tourists, that it is one of the most polyglot roadside attractions in the world. So head to the Texas Panhandle with a big can o’ spray paint!

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Playas By Eli Meyers

Playas are one of the most important ecological landforms in the High Plains of Texas. But what are they? Playas are circular, shallow “lakes� that cover about 2% of the Panhandle Plains. The seasonal watering holes are important pit stops for migrating birds headed north or to the coastal plains. In fact, there are thirty different species of migrating birds that use the playa lakes. For example, 300,000 geese come in the winter. Unfortunately, these beautiful landforms are threatened by poor farming and grazing practices, especially playas that are in the middle of cropland. The sediment from the field can collect in the playa and it fills up with dirt. One way to help solve this problem is to plant a prairie buffer around the playa to stop sedimentation or put up fences to prevent cattle from drinking the water. We can only hope that these efforts to save the playas are effective, so that this important landform is preserved for future generations.

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AMAZING ACACIA By: Eddie Vane Have you ever seen the beautiful plant known as acacia? If you haven’t, it can be found in the Texas Panhandle. This plant varies from being either a single tree or a ton of dark to lime green shrubs and trees. Another characteristic of acacia is that the trees are riddled with dark brown branches that stretch far away from the thick trunks, are lush with green leaves and yellow and white flowers.

This is an Acacia tree in full bloom. Undoubtedly, acacia trees are made into a vast assortment of wooden household items, but do you know which ones? Acacia trees are made into lumber, which is made into sweet-smelling perfumes, sturdy dark-brown wooden tables, chairs and stools. Another thing that Acacia tree wood is made into is polished wooden bowls. Some other items that acacia wood is made into are a wide variety of wooden wall and flooring.

This is a desk made of Acacia Wood.

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TEXAS TORNADO ALLEY By Eddie Vane On the fateful day of May 11, 1953, a supermassive tornado, named the Waco Tornado, touched down in Lorena, Texas. Stretching almost ⅓ of a mile wide, this catastrophe killed 114 people. The Waco Tornado also damaged 1000 buildings, and 2000 vehicles! Certain survivors had to wait over 14 hours stuck on top of buildings, trapped inside cars and trucks with hope dangling by a string for their heroic rescues. Unfortunately, these devastating twister happen all too all often in the Texas Panhandle, part of America’s Tornado Alley.

Tornado in the Panhandle Did you know that the black, swirling disaster called a tornado is only a result of two forces of air meeting? In more detail, the cool ocean breezes from the Gulf of Mexico and icy winds from Canada meet in the Texas panhandle and cause a major disruption in the atmosphere. The next step is the creation of the deadly funnel is the change of wind. When the force gets strong enough, it gets turned into a funnel shape and touches down on flat dry land and wreaks havoc throughout Tornado Alley.

Tornado Diagram

Picture of tornado in Tornado Alley POWER WORDS: Atmosphere: The blanket of air and dust that surrounds Earth. Supermassive: A word for bigger than you can ever imagine.

Piney Woods Eco-Region

Feature Articles       

Plants of the Piney Woods Tyler State Park Ideal Weather of the Piney Woods Fascinating Animals of the Piney Woods Lake Caddo Caddo State Park Nacogdoches


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Texas’s First Town: Nacogdoches By Noa Kobrin-Brody Visitors from around the world enjoy visiting the Pineywoods of Texas, especially the quaint and historic towns that dot the landscape. Nacogdoches is no exception. Texas’s first town is a wonderful place to visit. It is interesting to learn the history of Texas’s oldest city. The Caddo Indians lived here for hundreds of years until the Spanish came and built a mission 1716. In 1776, a man named Gil Y’Barbos brought settlers to Nacogdoches and laid out streets for the new “pueblo” which is Spanish for town. The house he built for his trading business is still there today and was once known as the gateway from the United States to Texas. There are lots of places to visit in Nacogdoches, but two of the most interesting are Millard’s Crossing Historic Village and The Old Stone Fort Museum. Remember the house that Y’Barbo built? Well that is the Stone Fort Museum today! Like I mentioned, he built the stone house to use in the trading business. He stored goods from the United States to trade to Indians for skins and hides. Since then, the Stone Fort has been used as a headquarters for the Spanish, Mexicans and Sam Houston.

Statue of Antonio Gil Y’Barbo

Millard’s Crossing is a reconstructed historic village where all the buildings are from the 1800’s. The old log cabins and Victorian homes were moved to their original places and filled with antiques. Visitors can tour the school house, three of the homes, a tool shed, and the chapel. As you can see, Nacogdoches has a rich history and fun places to visit. So next time you are in east Texas be sure to visit!


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Animals in the Piney Woods By: Allyn Sapire Imagine tall pine trees stretching to the sky and wet bottom forests teeming with life. A perfect environment for a variety of animals, right? You better believe that the Piney Woods has many species of animals. Let’s take a look at a few of the animals that presently live in the Piney Woods of Texas. Look up! Did you see it? There, flitting through the trees is the rare red-cockaded woodpecker. At one time these sightings may have been common, but today this bird is endangered. This beautiful bird has black and white spots all over its feathers with a little red dot on top of its head. Their black beak helps them get worms out of the trees in tiny spaces. Unbelievably, the red-cockaded woodpecker is so beautiful that people hunt it for its feathers. They also die from a disease called red-heart disease which makes them suffer then die. Habitat destruction is also a major problem. The red-cockaded woodpecker depends on long tracks of mature pine woodland to survive. Due to the lumber industry in the Pineywoods, these mature trees are frequently cut down and new ones planted. As a result, the poor woodpecker’s habitat is disappearing! Another animal that calls the Pineywoods its home is the grey fox. It may be difficult to imagine the color of this fox until you see her for yourself. With a mostly gray back and reddish sides, she has a white throat with beautiful red markings. To top it off, the middle of the back is usually black and she has a magnificent, long, bushy tail with a black tip. This beautiful and graceful creature likes to eat fruits, insects, shrews and voles. The gray fox is unique in that she can climb trees as good as a cat. In fact, the gray fox has been seen making its den in the hollow of a tree, although many like rock crevices, underground burrows, hollow logs and even a good brush pile. If you are lucky enough to see one of these foxes at dusk or dawn, you may have an opportunity to watch them leap and dance between levels of rock or tree stumps. The gray fox will even swim if she must. The Piney Woods is home to another amazing creature: the bobcat! One way to tell if a bobcat is in the area is to look for scratches on the trees! The bobcat is named for its short bobbed tail. A bobcat is about twice the size of a domestic cat. Its ears are pointed, and tipped with ear tufts of black hair that help it hear. A ruff of cheek fur extends from the side of its face, and it has long white whiskers. The bobcat is a cream with shades of gray and brown, dotted with spots. The lighter belly area is spotted. Enemies of bobcats include mountain lions, coyotes, and humans. Coyotes also compete with bobcats for food, since they both eat the same prey. Bobcats are solitary, shy animals and do most of their hunting at night, so it is hard to catch a glimpse of them. These beautiful creatures are excellent hunters. They sit up in trees and silently Bobbed: A short object. Environment: Surroundings in which a person, aniwait for their prey. When the time is right, they mal, and plant lives upon. pounce! If you are a rabbit, mouse or baby deer, Aggressive: Ready or likely to attack or confront. watch out! Lumber: Move in a slow, heavy, awkward way. There is no doubt that the animals in the Frequently: Something to happen regularly or often. Piney Woods region of Texas are unique. While it Disease: A sickness that can harm someone for life. You can also have symptoms such as cold, cough, may be hard to catch a glimpse of these rare or sneeze, and/or fever. nocturnal creatures, it is definitely worth the trip to Endangered: On the verge of extinction. the Piney Woods to give it a try!


Ideal Weather in the Pineywoods

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Tyler State Park By Noah Gorelick

Noah Gorelick If you like mild winters averaging in the 60’s, gorgeous green springs in the mid 70’s and 80’s, the hot, hot summers in the 90’s, and the warm fall temperatures in the 80’s, the Pineywoods might be your place. Visitors to this area may enjoy light breezes blowing against their faces while paddling a canoe on Lake Caddo. Hikers and bird watchers can listen to the birds chirp or catch a glimpse of the rare White Bladderspot, all while enjoying the wonderful weather. I might say the Pineywoods is home to some of the best climate in Texas. I hope you can imagine this wonderful weather. If you can, start packin’ y’all’s bags. See you then.

Climate: the weather over a period of time Weather: the current temperature

Imagine pine forests surrounding a 64 acre, crystal clear lake, miles of nature trails for pedestrians and mountain bikes, and abundant wildlife. Nestled in the Pineywoods of east Texas, Tyler State Park has all of that and more. If you visit this popular Pineywoods destination, you may find yourself paddling in a canoe on the clear waters, maybe even dropping a line in the water to try your luck at fishing. This lake is full of crappies, perch and bass. If you are a land lover, bird-watching on this 985.5 acre state park may be your thing! The park has 12 miles for biking so you Texan cyclists, mark this one high on your list. On these trails you might catch a glimpse of deer grazing on the grasses, opossums climbing trees, or raccoons sneaking around the landscape. These are only some activities in Tyler State Park imagine how fun-filled a Tyler vacation would be. “This park really expresses the true colors of Texas.”


Caddo Lake State Park by Ally Sapire

A visit to Caddo State Park in the east Texas Pineywoods is like stepping back in time. With a maze of bayous filled with aquatic plants and bald Cypress trees to explore by boat and miles of trails to explore by foot, this park has something for everyone. After your hike, you might share a picnic at the edge of the lake and enjoy the shining waters that sparkle like diamonds as the sun reflects off it. If you would like to stay longer, the park service has renovated nine cabins that are perched right on the edge of the lake. These cabins were originally built in the 1030’s! Because this lake is so old, it has a ton of diverse wildlife and plants to explore. Don’t forget the fish! There are over 70 different species of fish here. If you’re the person who likes outdoors then come on over and enjoy your trip to Caddo Lake State Park you’ll LOVE IT!

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Lake Caddo By Ally Sapire

Caddo Mounds State Historic Site By Noa Kobrin-Brody

Did you know that over 1200 years ago, a group of Indians called the Caddo, lived in the Pineywoods? Archaeologists discovered that these mound builders left behind two temple mounds, a burial mound, and part of their village. The Caddo Indians were farmers, traders, and had spiritual ceremonies on the mounds. Today you can visit the Caddo State Mound Historic Site and learn about these Indians who ruled here for hundreds of years.

“Mystical” is a word people often use to describe this lake. You better believe that Lake Caddo’s natural beauty attracts people from all over Texas and beyond. Named after the Caddo Indians who lived in the Pineywoods for over 1000 years, the lake covers about 26,800 acres and is the only natural lake in Texas. Visiting Lake Caddo is like stepping back in time. It is like a huge ‘water forest.’ Tall Cypress trees covered with Spanish moss stretch out of the murky water. Some have called it fisherman’s paradise because there is so many fish there. Lake Caddo can freeze up in the winter time, and then get as hot as a warm bath in the summer. There is no question that Lake Caddo is a Pineywoods treasure.


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The Big Thicket By: Noah Gorelick Often times when you think of the Pineywoods you think of lush forests filled with beautiful pine trees with their needle-like leaves. Well, there’s much more to the Pineywood’s vegetation than pine trees. There’s the White ash which is not at all white. In fact, it is a “normal” green with a raindrop shaped leaf. There is also the American Beech, Southern Red Oak, the pink Flowering Dogwood, and my favorite, the Red Maple. So if you’re a tree fan the Pineywoods is a Controlled fire in the Pineywoods great place for you. The trees in the Pineywoods are more than Certainly, if you are a tree fan, the Pineyjust a home to the many animals who woods is the place for you. While much of this habilive there, they are tat has disappeared due to deforestation and fire an important Texas suppression, it is my hope that Texans of the future resource too. The will do their part to preserve this beautiful ecosystem. Pineywoods has Yeehaw! See you there partner. provided Texans with wood for businesses and houses for the last 200 years. You better believe the lumber has brought lots of money to Texas when other states need wood. In my opinion, it is important that Texan’s use this resource wisely. Deforestation has depleted the long needle pine tree population to only 3% of what it once was. Deforestation isn’t the only problem in the Big Thicket. Little of the long-leaf pine forests that Booming lumber business once dominated this Eco region remain. Long leaf Pine seeds need the soil that has been burned. The soil then becomes richer. North American forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. Fire returns nutrients to soils, encourages growth of older fire-resistant trees, and promotes establishment of seedlings. Most experts agree that controlled fires are necessary to manage and preserve what is left of the long leaf pine forest in the PineyVegetation= the plants of an area woods.


What a Sight!

By Josh Gilbert, Liora Susswein and Aiden Horwitz

The Prairies and Lakes region includes beautiful sights, breathtaking views, phenomenal cities and great land features. Table of Contents: The State Fair of Texas - 1 Fort Worth is Worth a Visit – 2

Armadillos – 4 Big Tex from The TX State Fair


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The State Fair of Texas By Josh Gilbert

Did you know that the State Fair of Texas is one of the largest expos in North America and that it lies in the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas? Let’s take a trip to The State Fair of Texas! Attractions It’s not surprising that there are endless attractions at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. When you arrive you’ll be greeted by Big Tex, the Texas State Fair mascot. Recently rebuilt due to a fire, this 55 foot tall cowboy has been a welcome sight to visitors since 1952. We should not overlook the cool rides at the fair, especially the most popular ride, the Ferris wheel. Until recently, this was the tallest Ferris wheel in North America reaching an amazing 212 feet! In the Midway there are blue tents that go from one side of the fair to the other. These tents have fun carnival games under them. If you have skill and luck you may even win a big teddy bear. But wait! There is more! In addition to the rides and games, there is musical entertainment as well. You might even be lucky enough to catch one of you favorite country western singers. If you’re a car lover, you might want to check out the car show, which has a variety of new cars on display. Many people enjoy viewing the vehicles that they may want to buy or just enjoy looking at luxury cars. Finally, there is a gondola called the Texas Sky-way that runs across the state fair. From up there, you can see the entire fair and even downtown Dallas! Its so great to have so many attractions that you can go to when you visit the state fair of Texas! History It is amazing to think about the history of the Texas State Fair. On October 26, 1886, the Texas State Fair became a reality! It was first was called the Dallas State fair and expo. It

was originally started as a private corporation by local businessmen and immediately became a big success. Before WWII, the fair was held in late October. Now, the state fair usually starts on the first Friday of September and ends 24 days later. This is because a football rivalry, called the Red River Rivalry, which broke out in 1929 between The University of Texas and Oklahoma, This rivalry game is played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium during the time that the State Fair is held.. Food Do you realize that one of the biggest reasons that people are attracted to the State Fair of Texas is the food? Right next to the Cotton Bowl is a huge food court that has over 1,000 restaurants. Probably the most popular food at the fair is Fletcher's Corny Dogs, where people stand in long lines during the fair especially at the Texas OU game to get one.” The food melts in your mouth,’’ says Jessica Woscow, a recent visitor to the Fair. Some of the phenomenal deserts are funnel cakes, snow cones and cotton candy. Every year the fair introduces a new deep fried item. Some of the best known have been deep fried Oreos, deep fried Twinkies and deep fried butter. There is no doubt that, no matter what your taste in food, the Texas State Fair has something for everyone. If you love a place rich in history, a variety of attractions and mouthwatering food, come on down to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas!


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Fort Worth is Worthwhile By Liora Susswein

What do interesting museums, a great zoo, and a rich history have in common? There all in Fort Worth, Texas! Let’s examine the amazing city of Fort Worth, which lies in the Prairies and Lakes Eco region of Texas.

No trip to Fort Worth would be complete without a visit to the Stockyards. When you first step foot into these historical yards you will transported into the old West with authentic historic buildings, and corrals full of cattle and horses. The history of this Stockyard began when cowboys driving cattle up the Chisolm Trail trailed through Fort Worth as their last stop until they crossed the Red River into Indian territory A.K.A. modern day Oklahoma. Between 1887 and 1890 more than 4 million head of cattle came through Fort Worth. When the railroads arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock. Over the years many additions were made, including a coliseum and two packing plants that packed and distributed tons of meat to all over the world. By WWI, Fort Worth was the largest horse and mule market in the world! Eventually, with the construction of roads came the trucking industry and railroads were no longer necessary to transport meat. As a result, the Stockyards were no longer important. Today the Stockyards are a historical landmark that attracts visitors

from all over the world. Visitors can still enjoy a daily cattle drive to experience the Old West. You may be surprised to learn that Fort Worth is home the world’s only Cowgirl Museum. The museum pays tribute to women whose lives demonstrate the strength and independence that helped forge the American West. If you are lucky enough to visit soon, be sure to check out the current exhibit: Hanskaska: The Shirtwearers - Plains Indian Art of Cathy A. Smith. Representing 10 Native American nations, the collection displays the ceremonial head dresses, shirts, leggings, weapons and other things Indians made and owned. Interested in finding out what it feels like to ride a bronco? Well, you have the opportunity to ride a fake one! But it feels exactly like a real one and you will get a video of yourself that looks just like you are riding a bronco in a rodeo. No visit to Fort Worth is complete without a visit to the Fort Worth Zoo. The zoo is the oldest continuous zoo in Texas. It was founded in 1909 with only a lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. Since then it has become a nationally ranked facility home to nearly 7,000 native and exotic animals. One of the visitors describes it as, “A rare gem in the middle of cowtown.” So come on by and see all the majestic creatures the Fort Worth zoo can offer. As you can see, Fort Worth has a great selection of things to do such as strolling around a nationally recognized zoo, a visit The Cowgirl Hall Of Fame or a trip to the historical stock yards. What are you waiting for?


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The Red River By: Josh Gilbert Have you ever wondered what borders Texas and Oklahoma? The answer is, The Red River. The Red River is named after the red soil that it carries during flood periods and has a very high salt content. Also, the Red River is 1,360 miles long and 640 of the miles are in Texas or along the Texas boundary. The river was first discovered in the 1700’s by the Europeans, and has been a border of Texas and Oklahoma ever since. Finally, you can find many beautiful lakes that have been formed by The Red Rivers’ dams including one of the largest and all-time favorites Lake Texoma. In conclusion, if you love any wa-

The Blackland Prairies Rich Soil

ter activities come on down to The Red River.

By: Josh Gilbert Did you know that one of the most important resources in the Blackland Prairies is the rich soil? In fact, it is considered some of the richest soil in the world! Under this black soil is sedimentary rock that was formed millions of years ago when Texas was covered by a shallow sea. Layer upon layer of shells from little sea creatures fell to the bottom of the ocean and were cemented together to form the chalk and limestone rock. The black heavy clay soil is developed from that. The backland Prairie is a true grassland community with a huge variety of grasses that grow as tall as 10 feet high! You better believe that the blackland soil has attracted farmers since the first settlers arrived in Texas.


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Armadillos By: Aiden Horwitz Have you ever wondered about the amazing armadillos in Texas? Well come with me to explore these unique creatures in one of the most beautiful places in the Texas, the Prairies and Lakes region. Without a doubt, armadillos, also called varmints and critters, are some of the strangest looking animals on this planet. Believe it or not, these animals are close relatives to the sloth and anteater. They can grow to be the size of a large house cat, averaging between 15 - 17 inches long. The word armadillo in Spanish means the little armored one, which makes sense because they look like they are covered in armor. You might have seen an armadillo rolled up in a little leather-like ball. They do this to protect their vulnerable parts from predators such as eagles and hawks. You see, these short, brownish gray creatures only have a few little teeth in the back of their long, slender mouths; therefore, they are unable to bite to protect themselves. There is no doubt, this odd-looking mammal is unique. You might be surprise to learn that the armadillo prefers warm climates, so Texas is the perfect place for them. If you live in the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas and have good night vision, you might see an armadillo scuttling through the prairie and getting into your garbage. These animals are nocturnal. This means that they sleep during the day and up at night. These critters prefer the tall grasses and scrubby underbrush of the Prairies and Lakes region to sleep in during the day. Their long tongues, sharp teeth and long nails allow them to dig for the insects they love to eat. Strangely, 90% of the armadillo’s diet is insects and larvae! Also they eat earthworms, scorpions, spiders, lizards and small snakes. There is no question that the Prairies and Lakes is the perfect habitat for the armadillo. Believe it or not, there are quite a few little known facts about armadillos. For example, armadillos are also sometimes called Hoover Hogs because during the Great Depression, many armadillos were eaten by hungry people. They were called this because people were very angry when President Hoover had broken a promise of a chicken in every pot. Some people said that the meat tasted like fine grained high quality pork. People still enjoy the tasty meat today. Another fascinating fact is that armadillos are the only mammal in the world to give birth to identical quadruplets. Unfortunately, armadillos are facing extinction. If you go to a Texas gift shop, you might see souvenirs made from armadillos. Don’t buy them! The armadillo is the Texas state small mammal. It is our job to protect these little guys from extinction! Perhaps next time you visit the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas, you will be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of our unique state mammal. And hopefully, it won’t be under the tire of your car!


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Persimmon Paradise By: Liora Susswein

There are many different kinds of fruits that grow in the Prairies and Lakes Eco region of Texas, but one of the most interesting fruits in this Eco region is the persimmon. The scientific name for a persimmon is Diospyros Texana. These fruits grow on twisted grey shrubs whose bark always seems to be peeling. When you bite into a persimmon you will either pucker up at the sourness or smile at the sweetness. They are not usually ready to eat until they are a dark purple color, otherwise the green ones are very sour. These fruits contain vitamins C and B, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids. So next time you visit Texas, have a persimmon or two.

Texas T-Rex By Liora Susswein

Imagine tall prairie grass bending in the gentle breezes, gently rolling hills dotted with trees, and giant...dinosaurs! While today the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas has been transformed by development and farming, millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed this land. Seventeen different dinosaurs have been found in this region, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex! Did you know that the official dinosaur of Texas is the Pleurocoelus (plooruh-SEE-lus)? But there were many more dinosaurs in this Eco region like the Technosaurus that was found near Texas Tech University, as you might realize from its name. This herbivore was no longer than a large dog. Another herbivore that lived in this area was the Alamosaurus, named after a New Mexico trading spot call “Ojo Alamo” where the fossils were found. Alamo is Spanish for “cottonwood tree.” This herbivore swallowed plants whole and let them digest in its stomach!


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Cedar Hill State Park By Aiden Horwitz What can you find just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the big city? Why Cedar Hill State Park, of course! You can enjoy everything from camping, mountain biking, bird watching, picnicking, fishing and so much more! Let’s begin with camping! The park features 355 beautifully equipped campsites that include electricity, hot showers, restrooms and picnic tables. Also there are 30 more primitive campsites for those that are more adventurous. This park is known for the North Texas mountain biking trail. With 1,200 acres of perfect mountain bike terrain that covers 15 miles of intense riding. If you enjoy mountain biking this is the place for you. Cedar Hill State Park’s most popular activity is bird watching. You can do this yearround. The painting bunting is the most popular bird species, you can find it May through August. The park’s list of birds contains almost 200 species! You can also do water activities like swimming, boating and fishing here at Cedar Hill State Park. These activity areas also include playgrounds and picnic tables for your convenience. These are all great reasons that you should go to Cedar Hill State Park of Prairies and Lakes eco-region of Texas! If that’s not enough, you can participate in volunteer opportunities and ranger programs. I hope you enjoy your visit to Cedar Hill State Park.


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Droughts in Texas By Aiden Horwitz

Residents of Texas are very familiar with drought, but what is a drought? A drought means that a place has less precipitation (rain or snow) than normal over a few months or even longer. When you are in a drought it is probably dusty, hot and dry. Lakes and river can even dry out! Cracks may even appear in the soil.

A drought can last for a year or even longer. Droughts can be very serious like one of the worst in the 1950’s. During droughts farm animals often die because they don’t have enough water. The majority of Texas is currently experiencing drought. Most of the state has been under drought conditions for three years. Hopefully our current drought will end soon, but until then, be sure to conserve water if you live here or visit!


South Texas Plains By: Nathan Abrahams and Caleb Legatt

Featured Articles Featuring Articles The Endangered Ocelots

Sights of the South

McAllen, Texas

Southern Live Oak

Historic South Texas South Texas Resources

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The Sight Of The South By: Nathan Abrahams The South Texas Plains is an amazing region of Texas. This region of Texas is mostly low, flat land with some rolling hills, covered with grasses and thorny brush like prickly pear cactus and mesquite. The size of the beautiful brush country is 28,000 square miles and stretches from the Hill Country to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. There are some major rivers that wind through this region like the Guadalupe River, the San Antonio River, the Nueces River, the Lavaca River, and the Rio Grande River. The Rio Grande valley is a very unique ecosystem. This subtropical environment is like nowhere else in the United States. It’s very humid there. It is almost the most southern place in the United States; only Florida and Hawaii are farther south. This environment has many unique tropical animals and plants. Palm trees, citrus trees and subtropical woodlands grow here. There is no question that the South Texas Plains is a unique region in Texas.

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Southern Live Oak By Caleb Legatt Imagine a region covered with a variety of spectacular vegetation. Well the South Texas Plains has so many interesting plants; you can't keep count of them all! Let’s explore some of my favorite species that grow in this Eco region of Texas. You better believe that there are some unique and or rare species such as the fluffy tree mesquite or the cotton like grasslands that grow in the rough sandy soils. There are also common species such as sugarberry of the slimy duckweed, or even the huge cocktail. But the coolest species of plants in the South Texas Plains is the astonishing, Southern Live Oak. You might be wondering where you might see the Southern Live Oak and how you would recognize it. The Southern Live Oak has the most thick and powerful black bark. The leaves are thick and leathery and the tops are a pure gorgeous shade of green. The tree can grow really tall, with branches that splay out and sometimes touch the ground, so it is also good for climbing. So you climber fans, plant some for your children, and your children's children, and so on and so forth. The Southern Live Oak is not just beautiful, but useful too. Of course the tree is a perfect habitat for animals such as the squirrels, foxes, and birds. Also, the wood is very hard and heavy so it has been used to make war ships in World War ll. Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many of these trees as there used to be. It only grows in these states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina and Virginia. The Southern Live Oak is very endangered type of species. Therefore, you should protect it by watering it in a drought and giving it rich soil, or it will be wiped off the globe. As you can see, the South Texas Plains has some amazing vegetation, but none as beautiful as the Southern Live Oak.

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Resources of the South Texas Plains By Caleb Legatt

The South Texas Plains has so many resources like good farming soils, especially in the Rio Grande River Valley. Good farming soil is spectacular for the Texas farmers. The soils in this region are used for growing vegetables, citrus fruits, cotton, grain, and sugar cane. If you are a farmer, then this is the place for you!

McAllen, Texas By Caleb Legatt

There are only a few cities in the South Texas Plains, but one of the most awesome is the city of McAllen. This city located right on the banks of the Rio Grande River across from Mexico. This city was once a small rural town but in the last 20 years has become one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. One reason is all of the trade going on with Mexico. Another reason is all of the stores, hospitals, and restaurants they have built. So if you are interested in visiting the southern tip of Texas and doing some shopping, give McAllen a try.

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The Endangered Ocelots By: Nathan Abrahams Did you know there are ocelots in the South Texas Plains? Well, there are some left, but not many. Ocelots are also known as the dwarf leopard. They are twice the size as a regular house cat. They can get up to 35 inches tall and weigh as much as 35 pounds. These cats are known for their smooth, spotted fur. In fact, they are often hunted for their coats which is why they are endangered. Ocelots are skilled hunters due to their great eyesight and incredible hearing skills. They hunt down rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, and even slimy green frogs. Their ferociously sharp teeth are like scissors and can kill with one bite. I hope you have the opportunity to see an ocelot in real life, but don’t get too close!!!

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Let’s Take A Tour Of The History Many people may be surprised to discover that the South Texas Plains is home to two very important historical landmarks. Let’s discover why the Mission Espiritu Santo and the Presidio La Bahia are important parts of Texas history. Built right on the banks of the San Antonio River is Goliad, one of the only places in North America where visitors can see a Spanish mission and presidio built many centuries ago. It is here that you can learn about the roles the Spanish government and Catholic church played in settling the New World, and specifically Texas. Shortly after the Spanish explorers discovered Texas, they tried to hold onto the land by building missions to convert the Indians to Catholicism. Usually a presidio, or fort, was also built to help protect the mission. The mission in Goliad was called Mission Espiritu Santo and the fort was called Presidio La Bahia.

Less than one hundred years later after it was built, la Bahia was made famous. The famous Goliad Massacre occurred on these grounds. On March 27, 1836 over 300 Texas troops were shot by Santa Anna’s men in Goliad. James Fannin was in charge of the troops and was killed along with them. This event led up to the famous battle that ended Texas’s fight for Independence, the Battle of San Jacinto. It was during this last battle that the Texans shouted, “Remember Goliad!” as they defeated Santa Anna’s troops and won independence for Texas. If you love Texas history, I encourage you to visit Goliad, a city rich in history in the South Texas Plains.

TX Ecoregions  
TX Ecoregions  

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