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April 16, 2007

Go Wild Outdoors at San Antonio’s First-Ever WildFest

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In this day of electronics and virtual reality, it’s known by many that regardless of age, most of us just don’t get outdoors as much as we once did in the “good ol’ days.” WildFest San Antonio, scheduled the first weekend of May, intends to change all that.

The City of San Antonio, Los Vecinos de las Missiones, Medina River Natural Area, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio Area Tourism Council, San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Water System, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department along with many local organizations are teaming up to present San Antonio’s first-ever birding and nature festival May 4-6. More than 70 WildFest events — field trips, seminars and workshops — are scheduled during the three days.

WildFest San Antonio celebrates Bexar County’s world-class historical sites and natural areas and extensive park system that offer opportunities for the young and the young at heart to get outside and enjoy nature, regardless of their interests.

Advanced registration is required for all festival events, even the ones being offered at no charge. Mailed-in registration must be postmarked by April 27. For more information and to obtain registration forms online visit the WildFest San Antonio Web site or call (210) 886-9991.

“WildFest is designed to permit individuals and families to see millions of bats emerge from Bracken Cave, bird watch along the Medina River, or learn about people and plants of early San Antonio,” said WildFest San Antonio Planning Committee chairman Dwight Henderson.

An integral part of the festival, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Judit Green, an urban wildlife biologist based in San Antonio, will be guided field trips to city and state parks, and other natural sites and facilities in the area to share with participants the many places available locally where they can get outdoors and enjoy biking, hiking, birding and other activities that allow them to experience nature close up.

Comanche Park, for example, offers opportunities to get wet as you learn how to fish and climb into and explore one of two local caves; get out in darkness to experience calling up owls or finding night critters at Medina River Natural Area; or explore the newly renovated Botanical Garden in the heart of downtown which offers a taste of some of the different ecoregions found throughout Texas.

Recent rainfall, Green noted, should ensure a proliferation of wildflowers and blooming plants that attract butterflies, birds and other wildlife. She said Bexar County’s location at the crossroads of ecological regions results in an impressive diversity of plants and wildlife species.

“This means you’ll have a good chance to see coyotes in the distance, turkeys strutting their stuff in a nearby field, or lizards cocking their heads giving you a once over as you bend over them to get a closer look,” Green said. “Participants may also have the opportunity to see or hear the endangered golden-cheeked warbler especially at Government Canyon State Natural Area, one of the Hill Country’s most sought out specialty birds, part of an impressive bird list that numbers almost 500 species for this area.”

Also on the festival planning committee, Linda Winchester of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council, believes that WildFest San Antonio not only will help educate local residents about the area’s natural resources, but also enhance the visitor experience for out-of-towners while boosting the economy.

“Ecotourism has been growing rapidly as a niche market for many destinations,” Winchester said. “We are fortunate to be in South Central Texas, which is home to and a crossroads for many birds, plants and animal species.”

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RM 2007-04-16

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