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3/3/2014 8:03 AM
 

Viewing Texas wildflowers during the spring is a favorite event of the year for Texas residents and visitors to Texas.  Several cities go all out to welcome wildflower seekers and photographers. A few cities and counties really don’t seek the extra attention, but are usually tolerant of visitors if the visitors are polite and considerate.  Some of the best wildflower viewing is located in areas that are also some of the best range land or farm land.  I often find horses and cattle providing backdrops to my wildflower photographs.  Please remember that it is tough raising livestock these days in Texas even without the extra nuisance of drive-by wildflower seekers.
 
Here are some of the guidelines that cities hosting wildflower festivals suggest you follow:
  
Watch the road first and not the wildflowers!  Take along a designated spotter if possible, or take extra care to drive safely when seeking or viewing wildflowers. Find a safe spot to pull off the road and not on the wildflowers. Some counties in Texas (Bandera County for example) do not allow parking or stopping along a county road. Some roadways like SH-71, US 281, SH-29, SH-16 are very busy no matter what the season is, so please be extra careful when stopping. See
Texas DPS guidelines on stopping.

Leave the livestock alone!  Livestock can get aggressive if they feel endangered just as wild animals can.  After being approached by wildflower seekers all day long, you can understand why an animal might want to be left alone to graze. Ranchers have special feeding programs, so do not feed the animals.
 
Watch the children!  While you have stopped to view the wildflowers or take a photo of your child in the bluebonnets, other cars are speeding by to get home to watch their favorite show or sports game. You should keep your children in hand at all times when leaving your car to view the wildflowers.  Also, while you are on your way to your next wildflower viewing, please watch for stray children wandering away from their neglectful parents. Just last year I saw a toddler dangerously approach a busy road in the Ennis area, before her parents noticed. 

Honor private property! A fence or wall is usually an indication of private property, but in Texas a “Posted: No Trespassing” sign is enough warning in most counties to allow the local law enforcement to issue you a citation for trespassing. Do not enter private property to get that photo in the bluebonnets.  Texas DPS states: ..."there are laws against criminal trespass so make sure you're not on private property when you stop to take your annual kids-in-the-bluebonnets photo."

Watch for snakes and fire ants!  Do not rush into any tall grass or wander into rocky outcrop areas where snakes love to sit and wait for prey.  After rain storms fire ants are very active and extremely upset at the extra work they have to do to clear out their ant hills, so make sure that pill of dirt is not swarming before you decide to step in it or over it.
 
Please leave with what you brought along!  I carry a plastic bag with me at all times to keep my trash, and often I return home with more trash in it than I brought.  Check that you have picked up your camera equipment - most often lost item is that lens cap.  Oh, and make certain all your kids are in the car before leaving the area. 
 
Take home a photograph and not a bunch of wildflowers!  It is not illegal to pick bluebonnets, but according to the Texas Department of Public Safety - "There are laws against damaging or destroying rights-of-way and government property - so pick a few flowers, but don't dig up clumps of them and don't drive your vehicle into the midst of them."  Also see The
Texas Department of Public Safety guidelines on picking wildflowers and stopping along highways posted at:
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/pr032602.htm

Stay Calm and Have Fun!  Please DO get out and see first-hand the wondrous natural beauty of Texas Wildflowers.  While you are there experiencing the fragrance and colorful sight of our Texas Wildflowers, remember how fragile that beauty is.  Your support and help is needed to safeguard this wonderful resource for future generations. Please support the conservations efforts of organizations like - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Wildlife Federation, National Parks, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Trust for Public Lands, and Texas Conservation Alliance.
 

 
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