I’ve written two posts about Gus Engeling WMA, Rhexia + Green Lynx Spider and Amorpha paniculata in the wild! but I’ve never finished sharing or writing up about our first trip to the WMA. And then we’ve gone two more times last summer, which means I have a lot to share.
This WMA is in my top 5 natural areas in the state and is named after Gus Engeling, a game warden who was shot and killed by a poacher at the age of 41 in 1951. Prior to its name change it was called Derden WMA. The habitat at this WMA is astonishing and diverse, with deep sandhills and pitcher plant bogs. The majority of the property is on Queen City Sand geology which follows almost the same pathway as the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in the state. All of the soils are variations of fine sands or fine sandy-loams with pockets of flooded or ponded soils that correspond to all of the bog and creek areas. It’s a crazy place to explore because it isn’t what you would expect to find in that part of Texas. And once you start hiking you are easily transported, at least in my mind, to interior sandhills in Florida. It’s a really cool place!
For this post I’ll stick to the milkweeds we saw on this June 2022 trip. As I said, we’ve been back twice and have added more milkweeds to our count among many other plants. I really would like to get out there in a season that isn’t summer because well, like I said, sandhills. It’s hot. There’s little shade in some of the sections. A good portion you can drive through and just get out and explore close by but if you want to hike any of the closed two-track roads you have to hoof it. Bring lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen if you go in the summer. Because of the unique geology and soils and the fact that this is a relatively in-tact habitat compared to its surroundings, there are a lot of rare and uncommon as well as very disjunct species here, too.
The milkweeds are only part of the cool plants you can find here. I’ll be sharing more soon/this spring, so stay tuned! I always leave there wishing we had much more of this habitat protected than we do. It’s a truly sad state that we don’t.