PBS Show El Paso Envoy, Fighting Fires & an Aquatic Advisor, #2614

– NARRATOR: The Texas Parks &
Wildlife television series
is funded in part by
a grant from the
Wildlife and Sport Fish
Restoration Program.
Through your purchases of
hunting and fishing equipment,
and motorboat fuels,
over 50 million dollars
in conservation efforts are
funded in Texas each year.
Additional funding provided
by Ram Trucks.
Guts.Glory.Ram.– NARRATOR: Coming up on
Texas Parks & Wildlife– El Paso has so much access,
but I think we all are kind of suffering from a lack of
knowledge on how to use it and what to do when
we get there. – You have to keep moving,
it’s a really intense thing being out there, it’s exciting,
it’s sort of an adrenaline rush. – I work with an incredible
group of people. I am inspired by their
quest for knowledge. [theme music] ♪ ♪– NARRATOR:Texas Parks
& Wildlife,a television series
for all outdoors.
– In El Paso, it’s literally
five minutes to get to a mountain, and
you just can’t beat that. I’m Clara Cobb, and
I’m an El Paso native. I run a couple of social media
sites here in El Paso. What you really do
is tell stories, and that’s my attraction,
absolutely, to Hueco Tanks. It’s a place where people
have been telling stories for ten thousand years. Hueco Tanks isn’t the
smallest state park, but it’s definitely
the most exclusive. It’s capped at 72 people a day,
and there is a list, but the easiest way to get on
the list is to sign up for a pictograph tour, which
takes you behind the scenes to some of the more
exclusive places. – Welcome to Site Seventeen. – Right? – The is the Lower Seventeen,
also known as “newspaper cave.” You have, right up here
above us, these kind of cream colored shapes. That dates back to Apache era,
that’s roughly somewhere around 200 to 400 years old. A bit more recently than them:
this kind of orangish… – CLARA: A horse! – TED: …horse shape,
right here. Everyone always thinks that’s
Native American cave art. It’s not. [laughs] If you look behind the tree,
you’ll see there’s a nice inscription…. – CLARA: This is definitely
a cultural intersection: the native people, travelers,
from the Butterfield Trail to the Buffalo Soldiers,
they all came to Hueco Tanks. We have such a rich cultural,
diverse history. – These are all Tigua names. This is one of the things
that show that the Tiguas do have a historical presence
here at Hueco Tanks. – CLARA: You know it’s fun
that it’s on the border, because the longer you’re on the
border, the more you realize how people and their
stories transcend those man-made borders,
I guess. – TED: So the painting we’re
looking at actually takes up the entire wall. You want to be careful
not to touch it. – You can see all the
other stories people have left behind. That’s what makes us all kind of
unique and everyone has their own journey and story and
perspective and that’s kind of just really special. When I first moved back to
El Paso almost three years ago, I didn’t really know
the trails anymore. Through other people’s
stories, their blogs, their social media posts-
that’s how I re-acquainted myself with opportunities here. When you have a place like
Hueco, you don’t not climb. This is world-class
rock-climbing, bouldering specifically. It’s the birthplace of
American bouldering. And people come, very seriously,
from all over the world, to train, and to practice
and to climb Hueco Tanks. [breathing heavy] I am a hobbyist rock-climber. – The only way you can become
a climber is climbing. So, sometimes you’ll have to
think and act on the fly. But the sequential problem is
so hard, that you literally have to find your abilities with
your body and actually doing it. And that’s what a lot of people
don’t understand about climbing. – CLARA: My skill level is
fall down seven times, get up eight. – Oh, you okay? – [laughing] Yeah. But I like doing it. – LOWELL: Pump up on that hole! Get that hole! – CLARA: It’s about having a
challenge and overcoming it, facing adversity,
solving those problems. – LOWELL: We have a saying:
think less, climb more. – CLARA: Think less, climb more. – Good! Good! Get that big jug with
your other hand. Yes! Good, Clara, c’mon. Good. Come back down to this
big hole waiting for you. Right there. Aww! Much better. – CLARA: When you see chalk,
it shows you the route that someone else took,
their solution to the problem, it’s a hint on how to get
through the route. And that doesn’t necessarily
mean it’s the best solution for you, but it certainly
gives you a little preview, a sample of one way you
can solve that problem. – Not today. – El Paso has so much access,
but I think we all are kind of suffering from a lack of
knowledge on how to use it and what to do when
we get there. You’ll go to other places in
other cities and people will tag like “secret spot” or
“oh, I can’t tell you because there’s too many people going.” Here people are very open,
there’s no secret. The first year I was here, I had
more than 60 groups of friends, something like 270 people total, come out and visit based on
my Instagram photos alone. [uplifting music] Unfortunately, Hueco closes at
five, but when it does close, I like to bust it back
into El Paso to Franklin Mountains
State Park and do a little
happy-hour hike. Taking a selfie is kind of cool,
but taking a selfie on top of a mountain
is like super cool. You can’t go and do something
cool if you don’t know that opportunity exists, and I think
that’s the thing that I get excited about: giving
people the opportunity to know what opportunities
they have. When you’re talking about parks,
and you’re sharing your experience in parks, already
you’ve become a park ambassador. – MAN: Get out of its way
and get to the other side!– NARRATOR: This is a story
about some special people.
Meet Kevin Ferguson
and Robyn Dabney.
Kevin runs both Kickapoo Caverns
State Park and Devils Sinkhole.
[brush sweep]And Robyn well, she’s doing
the dirty work at
Dinosaur Valley State Park.[truck beeping]Besides working in our
state parks they are
also firefighters.[water doused on fire]Volunteer firefighters and this
is a look into what it takes
to be on the fire line with the
State Parks Wildland Fire team.
[music] – [radio]: Hey just a heads up
were picking up a little bit of gusty wind,
everything’s fine though. [music and fire crackles]– NARRATOR: Here at Cedar Hill
State Park south of Dallas,
a prescribed burn is underway
to help restore the park’s
native black-land prairie.[fire crackles] – It’s extremely rare habitat
that we are trying to manage. Cedar Hill has in our state
park system probably the best representation of black-land
prairie, and were managing to kind of restore it back
to its natural diversity. [fire crackles] – The way this stuff is brushy
here we want to get down and around the end.– NARRATOR: For Kevin,
he is in training.
– Do you want to split em
into two? – Yeah.– NARRATOR: A test to see if he
has what it takes to be a
future firing boss.– The fire behavior is very
good we’re getting what we want. This woody debris is moving
out into the prairies, we’re getting good behavior
in there taking a lot of that stuff with it. We’re happy with
what we’re getting. [fire crackles]– NARRATOR: For Robyn, this is
just her third prescribed burn.
– You have to keep moving,
it’s a really intense thing being out there, it’s exciting,
it’s sort of an adrenaline rush, you’re walking you can see the
fire dripping, you can hear the trees and grasses igniting, and
you can feel the heat for sure. – KEVIN: All right let’s move,
it’s about to get hot! [fire crackles]– NARRATOR: The team’s goal is
to burn and help restore
five to ten thousand acres
of parkland every year,
all as volunteers, as their
daily duties continue
back at the office.– I love my day to day job that
I do at the park, but being brought in to
something that you feel is not only this important
but this exciting as well. It’s just a passion when you
really believe in something like that, you know you
make it happen. [music, fire crackles] – ROBYN: It’s neat to come out
and be able to work on a project that from start to finish you
can accomplish in one day. See all the grass, see the
trees beforehand, drag the fire,
everything lights up, and then it’s black. So you can really see it
through all the stages from beginning to end. And it’s neat, it feels good,
like you accomplished something. [anticipatory music] – JEFF: We’re going to run
two heats today. 45 pounds. [heavy chains rattle]– NARRATOR: To be part of
the fire team, every year the
firefighters have to pass
a fitness run of sorts.
– Always a little nervous
but excited as well, this will be the
fifth year running. So it’s fun! – Yeah I need a
little help! [laughs] – ROBYN: I’ve gotten out
and walked some. I’ve carried a little bit of
weight, but I haven’t actually got to carry the 45 pounds yet. Um, so I’ve kinda been nervous
waking up with nightmares leading up to this. [fast-paced music] – Heavy! – JEFF: Ready, set, go! – ROBYN: I have to walk
45 minutes with a 45 pound pack, um, three miles. So it’s a big ordeal! – Somebody is chasing me! The point of it is to walk,
you’re not allowed to run. So one foot on the
ground at all times. Yeah! – What lap is this? – Going strong,
over half way. – This is… this is five? [fast-paced music] So we’ll get called out on
wildfires, prescribed burns, and some of these last for a
week, two weeks at a time, and you’re hiking up in
the Fort Davis area or Caprock where there’s hills. – JEFF: You’re 30 seconds ahead. – So this is just a test
to make sure that you’re in shape and capable to do
all of that year round. My feet are starting to hurt,
and I’m feeling the 45 pounds! – You could be going
for longer than 12 hours, you could really be tested on
your physical ability and this is one way to get a
snapshot of what you can handle. ♪ ♪ [heavy breathing] ♪ ♪ – Good run! – ROBYN: I talk to myself the
whole way, and I listen to music and I close my eyes, whatever I
have to do and I get through it. I need help! I feel relieved for sure
now that it’s over. – See you next year. – Hundreds of homes
destroyed in one of the worst wildfire outbreaks
in central Texas history. The biggest burning in and
around Bastrop State Park right now, more than
25,000 acres, again 476 homes destroyed.– NARRATOR: 2011 proved to be
the most devastating wildfire
season in Texas History.[fire engine drives by]At Bastrop, Kevin was one
of the first on the scene.
[fire crackles] – At Bastrop, you were looking
at historic buildup of fuels which provided for
conditions that were extremely volatile. It was primed to go and
it took off like a shot. [fire crackles] [helicopter] – [on radio]: If I can get
around him, I’ll come back there and look at it with you. – KEVIN: We went straight for
over 48 hours before getting any sleep and then it
was an hour here and an hour there, and we never knew it
was going to be like that, and you had to be prepared to be
able to endure whatever was thrown at you, especially in an
emergency situation like that. [raking] [waves lapping] – NARRATOR:Earlier in
April, fires hit
Possum Kingdom State Park, and
it was Robyn’s first wildfire.
[helicopter whirs] – ROBYN: When the fire came over
at Possum Kingdom we knew it would take out the vegetation,
we knew it would take out everything that was in its path
that we weren’t able to protect. But, we went in and we dug
around some of the structures, tried to protect the houses,
we tried to protect the cabins as well and everything
there survived.– NARRATOR: Both fires burned
thousands of acres of parkland.
But the team was able to
save all the park’s historic
structures and cabins.– MAN: An ember fell in the
crotch of that juniper tree. [engine starts] – JEFF: The training and
qualifications of our state park firefighters allowed our
firefighters to quickly flip a switch from a prescribed
fire mode, to a wild land firefighting mode. We were able to protect our park
infrastructure, protect our park natural resources, and cultural
resources, and save these state legacies, our state parks. ♪ ♪ – ROBYN: The fire team here
has proved through multiple wildfires that all their
firefighters are well trained, and can work together to
accomplish something. And in this case it was
protecting buildings and saving parks. – KEVIN: As a team, training
together, working together. We’re ready and we’ve learned
what it takes to be effective and to be safe, and whatever
happens we’re ready to go! [truck drives off] – Growing up, I was inspired
by the world around me. I’ve grown up on the coast. I was educated on the coast. – I sat in on Jackie’s
interview when we hired her and talk about passionate. She can be teary-eyed when you
talk about how she feels about the habitat along
the coast in Texas. – One of my instructors in
college, she had us sit down and write down in your field
book your observations. And so when we were done,
she told us what she saw and it was totally different
from what we saw. That was probably the
most applicable moment I had in college. [laughs] In our program, we provide
recommendations to protect fish and wildlife resources to
governmental agencies that are either authorizing or conducting
development in coastal areas. Those projects range from
residential piers to space launch facilities
and everything in between. We have Salicornia. And then it’s bare and
then we have Thaddeus. [laughing] I work with an incredible
group of people. They come to this job
wanting to learn every day and I am inspired by their
quest for knowledge. And so I want to teach them
everything that I know. – She’s provided the leadership
for those staff and the skills that she’s
demonstrated as a leader are just excellent. – She’s extremely dedicated. She will help anybody
who needs it. Anybody who asks her for help. She’s extremely knowledgeable
and if she comes across something that she doesn’t know,
she will find the answer to it. – She’s a great educator. She really takes the time to
teach me the back story of a project and
where we are at now. – She’s a great, you know,
mentor. She took that initiative
on her own. – I look forward to the years
in working with her and just learning so much from
what she has to offer. – I get to learn something
new every day and the learning is
never ending. It’s constant so that keeps me
motivated and inspired to keep doing this job that I’ve been
doing for eight years now. There’s been a number of people
who have also taught me to better understand and appreciate
the world in front of me. At Parks and Wildlife,
it’s my opportunity to pay that appreciation and
understanding forward. [pumps humming]– NARRATOR: It’s stocking time
at the A. E. Wood Fish Hatchery.
[splash]The hatchery raises thousands
and thousands of rainbow trout.
[splash]And in the winter,
they’re loaded up
and off to the Guadalupe River.– ANGLER: There go the fish. There they go! – CHRIS: Each stocking we put
out 2,200 rainbow trout. [splashing] They are divided up on all the
stocking sights that we have. The phone calls always come in
during trout season, everybody’s wanting to know
when we’re stocking certain water bodies,
especially the canyon tailrace. [splashing] [reel cranks] – ANGLER: There you go! Fly guy! Hey, there ya goes! [laughter] [camera clicks] [water splashing] – CHRIS: One of the reasons why
rainbow trout are possible on the Guadalupe River,
just below canyon tailrace, is because when they dammed
up the Guadalupe River, it actually enabled the
water temperatures to stay cool year round. [music] Any time that we go to
one of these stockings, the fisherman follow! – You see the tiniest
little movement. There he is! And I just love
catching these fish. They’ll jump, they’ll run,
they’ll do everything for you! It’s a blast! I love getting in the
water with them. I got three pairs of
waders in the car, and here I am in my jeans…
soaked! [laughs] – I’m just using um,
power bait right now. Yep, we got her. Ok. We’re ready to go fishing. Come on take it,
thank you, thank you! That’s how you catch a fish! [laughs] [fish splashing] We used to catch these in
Canada, that’s where I’m from. So this is a real treat for me! Ohhh!– NARRATOR: This project was
funded in part by a grant
from the Sport Fish
Restoration Program.
[water rushing] – WOMAN: All I thought
Pedernales was, was camping and the little river parts. I did not know this
place was here at all. [gentle music] – JOHN ALVIS: Mountain biking
in general is becoming a more popular pursuit. The Texas Hill Country
is quickly becoming a mountain biking
and cycling Mecca. [gentle music] Here at Pedernales Falls, we
have a great deal of trails that can accommodate all skill
levels of mountain biking. – BIKER: Watch out
for that bump. – JOHN: More of our campers are
showing up with mountain bikes. Particularly on weekends we get
a lot of mountain bikers staying in the park and training
on our trails in the park. – BIKER: Wait for us! Wait for us! – Right now, it seems like it’s
fairly unknown for bikers. In fact, I don’t know if
we’ve seen anyone on bikes. – JOHN: We have probably
eight miles of one lane dirt road trails that will
accommodate basic skill level mountain bikers. It’s a good way to get
out and see the park. – BIKER: This is nice
right through here. – JOHN: We have some secondary
trails that all together encompass about 20 miles
of mountain biking trails. Wolf Mountain Trail is our most
popular mountain biking trail and it provides a
combination of single track and wider jeep road
type terrain. It can range from easy,
flatter type terrain to some pretty significant hills that
provide a good challenge to any skill level. – BIKER: I took a look at it
thinking ‘Maybe’ [laughs]. No way. Come to a stop, get off
your bike and walk. – VICKY: Looking forward to
getting to ride through the flat area [laughs]
and through the flowers. – It’s really pretty. There’s places where it’s a
nice meadow just going through flowers kind of like here. And then there’s places that
are nice and shady with all the cedar trees and even places that
look kind of like mini ravines. [gentle music] – JOHN: We get groups
of all types out here. A lot of it is just
families looking to escape and get out and enjoy
nature on their bikes and get a little exercise. We also get your hard core
mountain bikers that come in here and want to cover
20 miles in two hours. And they’re hitting
the trail hard. We can certainly
accommodate any interest in mountain biking here. – VICKY: I’m drafting. Drafting. [acoustic music] [acoustic music] [acoustic music] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping] [birds squawk, chirping]– NARRATOR: This series is
funded in part by a grant
from the Wildlife and Sport Fish
Restoration Program.
Through your purchases of
hunting and fishing equipment,
and motorboat fuels,
over 50 million dollars
in conservation efforts are
funded in Texas each year.
Additional funding provided
by Ram Trucks.

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