AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will have four short films featured in this year’s virtual Wild Texas Film Tour starting on Dec. 1. The films spotlight experimental paddlefish stocking in Caddo Lake, Black Skimmers along the Texas Coast, research surrounding the Swift Fox in the Panhandle Plains and the diverse bayou habitats throughout the city of Houston.
“Progress for Paddlefish”, produced by Alan Fisher, a Video Producer with TPWD, followed TPWD biologists as they stocked paddlefish in Caddo Lake in 2014. The stocking was truly an experiment as no one could be certain whether the fish would survive or stay put. Years later it seems they have done both. The film helps audiences learn how ongoing research and more natural water flows yield new hope for a very old fish and its timeless habitat.
“Skimmer Savers”, produced by Abe Moore, another TPWD Video Producer, focuses on the Black Skimmer, a unique bird that is seen along Texas beaches, skimming the surface of the water in flight with its long, narrow bill. Black Simmers are one of the most threatened coastal birds in Texas. “Skimmer Savers” follows along with the efforts that are underway to save these fascinating birds.
“The Fox Finders”, also produced by Alan Fisher, tracks a ghost among the Panhandle Plains. The Swift Fox is seldom seen in its range, but a crew of researchers continue to put in long hours to learn if time is running out for this elegant animal.
“Bayou City”, produced by Olivia Haun (Schmidt), explores Houston and its 22 bayou systems. The city has a long and tumultuous relationship with its bayous as many have been steadily stripped, straightened and lined with concrete in the name of flood control and citywide growth and development. The film follows dedicated and passionate individuals within Houston’s conservation community who are working to change the relationship between Houston, its bayous and the diverse wildlife habitat and ecosystem services they provide.
The research behind “Bayou City” began within TPWD’s Wildlife Diversity Program in 2018. Haun, an Information Specialist with TPWD’s Wildlife Diversity Team, began shooting the film then but applied for the Wild Texas Short Film Grant to complete production in 2019. “Bayou City” was the first ever recipient of the $10,000 film grant presented by Explore Ranches and Fin & Fur Films.
The Wild Texas Film Tour, hosted by filmmaker and conservationist Ben Masters, is a short film tour showcasing wildlife, adventure and conservation stories from across the state. During this year’s free virtual tour that runs through December, viewers will meet the characters in the films, those behind the cameras and the conservationists that are working to keep Texas wild for future generations. More information about the Wild Texas Film Tour and how to watch the films can be found on their website.
A preview of the TPWD films can be found on the TPWD YouTube Channel.