State Parks Getaways - Texas Parks and Wildlife E-Newsletter

A Campfire Chat

With Fran Bartle

Fran Bartle and her fellow volunteers
Fran Bartle
Volunteer Park Naturalist
State Park:
Falcon State Park
Closest city/town:
Falcon Heights
South Texas Plains
Years with TPWD:
Years at this site:
Place of birth:
Carthage, Texas
I am now a full-time RVer but Nacagdoches, TX was my home.
Daily work duties/activities:
Feed birds, lead bird-walks, maintain the butterfly garden, lead butterfly walks, lead nature walks, prepare interpretive materials.
Favorite job duty:
Guiding people through the garden on their search for butterflies is my favorite. I enjoy telling visitors about the various native plants, and explaining how they could have a butterfly garden in their yards.
Accomplishment in the past year you are most proud of:
Designing the butterfly garden and working with other volunteers to make it a reality is one of my greatest achievements.
Most unique/interesting thing about your park or site:
The various habitats within this thorn-scrub area attract many birds and butterflies, some of which are uncommon or rare. Our proximity to the mountains of Mexico has resulted in numerous sightings of Mexican butterflies and moths that are rarely seen elsewhere in the United States.
Most memorable state park moment:
One Sunday in October, 2007, Berry Nall came to my RV to tell me he had found an unusual green butterfly in our garden. We returned to the garden, photographed the tiny butterfly, and searched in vain for its likeness in the guidebooks we had. Berry posted his photograph on TexButterflies and became the 1st person in over 70 years to see the Telea Hairstreak in the USA. This was the first of many sightings of rare bugs in the garden I designed.
Favorite outdoor activities/hobbies:
Birding, butterflying and gardening.
Non-outdoor hobbies
Drawing, watercolor painting, reading, writing
Who introduced you to the outdoors?
Both my Dad and my Grandfather were avid outdoorsmen, and they took me hiking from the time I was 3 years old. They encouraged me to watch for animals and to recognize many of the local plants.
Favorite book/TV show/website about the outdoors:
Berry Nall's website about the butterflies of Starr County is my favorite. (
Favorite field guide:
The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley
Favorite quote about the outdoors or parks:
Take only photos; leave only footprints.
Advice for people wanting to explore the outdoors or any state park:
Check with the park to see if there are any guided walks scheduled. Having an interpreter introduce you to the park and its flora and fauna will jumpstart your understanding and appreciation of the world around you.

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