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April 11, 2005
Fish, Wildlife, Parks Scientists Act on Peer Review Findings
AUSTIN, Texas – The science that underpins Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries, wildlife and state parks conservation is generally sound and current, although TPWD could improve methods of sampling and analyzing fish, wildlife and habitat data and the way results are used to make conservation decisions.
Those are some of the results of a recently completed review of science practices at the department, which began more than a year ago with an internal review, followed by a thorough peer review by outside experts.
The Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan created by TPWD earlier this decade set a priority goal to improve science and data collection and undertake a complete review of all scientific and conservation programs.
An American Fisheries Society panel of national experts reviewed TPWD Inland and Coastal Fisheries Division practices. The Wildlife Management Institute reviewed practices in the Wildlife and State Parks Divisions. In perhaps the highest-profile review, a National Academy of Sciences panel reviewed river instream flow work practices done by TPWD, the Texas Water Development Board and other partners.
“In working with our outside peers from across North America, we believe that the scope and depth of this review is unprecedented among state and federal resource management agencies,” said Robert L. Cook, TPWD executive director.
“The best defense of scientific credibility is a good offense, in this case an independent peer review. I’m proud of the fact that these outside experts looked hard at what we do and found that, for the most part, we’re state of the art in our current practices. They did recommend ways to improve some parts of our fisheries and wildlife programs and we’re going to act on those. There are some things we can do immediately, and others that will take planning and budgeting to do over the next few years.”
Program staff members from the TPWD resource divisions have been reviewing the peer review reports to determine how best to address findings and recommendations. That will provide significant input to division operating plans, the primary means by which the agency will act on the revised goals of the Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan.
All of the science review results are on the TPWD Web site.
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