The wild life at J.D. Murphree
We take in Port Arthur’s marsh at the posted speed limit.
I experienced a summer evening on one of our own wetlands, and cherish the memory of a seemingly quiet landscape that’s actually teeming with life. The setting sun changed each view by the minute and the rustling of canes and grasses, the call of birds and the buzz of insects become more noticeable.
If you have a group that is really into nature, consider contacting biologist Andrew Peters about a Hurricane Ike Recovery Marsh Restoration covering a fraction of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) 24,250 acre J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in south Jefferson County.
Peters said Hurricane Ike scoured 800 acres of these marshes and TPWD is working to restore part of Texas’ largest emergent marsh system. TPWD, supported by NOAA Fisheries Ike Recovery Grant, partnered with local industry and Ducks Unlimited to address emergent marsh loss. Now 37.5 acres has expanded to beneficially place 3.2 million cubic yards of dredged soil into 1,500 acres of emergent marsh on the WMA.
For information on the WMA, Contact Andrew Peters at (409) 736-2551 X31. Headquarters is at 2710 H.O. Mills Blvd. in Port Arthur.
Big Thicket read
Mirabeau Lamar, of Lamar University fame, is accused of writing bad poetry in a book on the Big Thicket. It ties in with a relative of Joseph Grigsby of Grigsby’s Bluff, now Port Neches. Rumors of Jean Lafitte’s buried treasures, a tip on how to ferment your mash and thoughts on baskers fill the pages.
Baskers are turtles who get sun themselves and include the chicken turtle, which tastes like chicken, and the stinkpot turtle, which climbs the highest for sunny spots, perhaps even into trees. Geraldine Ellis Watson shares these stories in “Reflections on the Neches: A Naturalist’s Odyssey along the Big Thicket’s Snow River.”It is noted that this is not a book to skim. Locals should love it, because we have lived it. The author was a plant ecologist and park ranger for the National Park Service for 15 years. This book is out from University of North Texas Press.
“Dog Trots & Mud Cats: The Texas Log House” opens with a scene of downtown Dallas, with the eye drawn up to Reunion Tower’s globe. Gradually the eye flows down, past other levels of tall buildings, to a tiny log cabin.
Linda Lavender’s book discusses how the homes American frontiersmen crafted became used for political sway and commercial promotion. You’ve had the syrup, haven’t you? One story tells how a woman hauled her prized possessions from her cabin, swore her offspring to secrecy and set fire to the place, so that her husband would be forced to relocated in a more modern community.
Now log cabins are making a come back and she discusses that, too. In 1979, the staff of the Historical Collection at what is now the University of North Texas assembled an exhibit on the Texas log house that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit traveled the country and was supported by this beautifully illustrated book, now being made available again by the University of North Texas Press.