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Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 [AR]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — July 25, 2008

Texas Game Wardens Head Home, State Parks Staff Work to Reopen Valley Parks

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens redeployed from the Rio Grande Valley to their home counties this morning as state parks officials began cleaning up storm debris in area parks.

Some 72 game wardens and supervisors, along with seven boat mechanics and two communications specialists deployed to South Texas in preparation for Hurricane Dolly. Game wardens brought with them 70 boats. The storm made landfall as a Category Two hurricane at South Padre Island about noon Wednesday.

By Thursday, game wardens in Cameron County had performed four separate high-water rescues and answered several calls to check on the welfare of stranded residents.

Three state parks — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley, Estero Llano Grande and Resaca de la Palma State Parks, all part of the World Birding Center — remain closed. The beach at Mustang Island State Park in Corpus Christi also remains closed today due to high water.

Unaffected state parks hosted about 30 evacuees at no cost in campsites and screen shelters this week.

"I think we all feel very fortunate that this storm was not more powerful and that we’ve come through without any loss of life in Texas," said TPWD State Parks Division Director Walt Dabney. "Hurricane Rita caused severe damage to some of our upper coast parks in 2005. This week we only have to tidy-up a bit."

TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Pete Flores said that extensive coordination with other state and local agencies ensured the right people and equipment were in place for this storm.

"For better or worse, we have a lot of experience in dealing with natural disasters of this kind," Flores said. "It’s something our game wardens train for, and something they are very good at."

As deployed officers return home today, South Texas game wardens will continue to assist local first responders as needed. To find out the status of Rio Grande Valley state parks affected by the storm, call 512-389-8900, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon.-Fri. or visit the World Birding Center Web site.

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