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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-05-17                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
May 17, 2004
Outstanding Landowners Recognized for Stewardship
AUSTIN, Texas -- These days, few private landowners can afford to focus their operations on one thing, such as cattle ranching, agricultural crops or even hunting. To be successful requires a combination of management practices. But in spite of the challenges, many owners of rural land continue to safeguard the wildlife, fields, forests and waters of Texas, even though many urban residents may not know it.
At a May 26 reception in Austin, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will recognize 11 owners and managers of ranches and other properties for their innovative and ecologically sound management of wild habitats with the 9th annual Lone Star Land Steward Awards.
The Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize private landowners' ability to integrate traditional land uses that produce meat, agricultural crops and outdoor recreation opportunities with habitat management and wildlife conservation, natural resource education of youth and outreach to other groups, and partnerships with natural resource agencies.
In addition to individual ranchers and farmers, the awards recognize cooperative conservation efforts by wildlife management associations across the state, neighbors partnering with neighbors to create consistent land management across larger tracts of land. These co-ops help reverse the negative effects of land fragmentation, improve habitats for all species and help co-op members produce income from wildlife recreation. Also to be recognized are the conservation efforts of corporate and industry landowners and managers who use sustainable resource practices.
The Natural Resources Foundation of Texas, Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Farm Bureau and the following banks help support the Lone Star Land Steward Awards through financial sponsorships: Farm Credit Bank of Texas, Capital Farm Credit, Heritage Land Bank, Southwest Texas Land Bank, AgriLand Farm FCS, Texas AgFinance, AgTexas FCS, Great Plains Ag Credit, and Ag Credit of South Texas. During the awards reception, co-hosted by the TPW Commission and its Private Lands Advisory Board, the overall, statewide 2004 Lone Star Land Steward Award winner of the year will be announced.
Last year, TPWD wildlife biologists provided technical guidance to more than 11,000 private landowners and developed 4,282 active wildlife management plans. Every one of this year's Land Stewards operate under a TPWD wildlife management plan as part of their conservation strategy and many of the properties are getting conservation guidance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funding assistance through the Farm Bill. Texas landowners may request free technical guidance by phoning TPWD at (800) 792-1112 and asking for Wildlife Information, Ext. 4505.
The following Lone Star Land Steward awardees include nine regional winners and two recipients in the special wildlife management association and corporate-foundation categories.
Rolling Plains -- Aiken Ranch L. P., Don and Ed Aiken owner and operator, Fisher County.
Don and Ed Aiken are long time conservationists. The Aiken family has owned the 3,707-acre Aiken Ranch L. P. for more than 65 years. They are able to combine a livestock operation where they run stockers with a wildlife operation utilized by family and friends. While bobwhite quail and white-tailed deer hunting occur on the property, benefits to wildlife extend beyond game species. Non-game species from songbirds to horned lizards benefit from the Aiken's land steward ethic.
The Aiken brothers are active in quail research and management, cooperating with governmental agencies and conservation organizations in Texas Quail Index, Texas Brigades and numerous field days.
Among the conservation strategies employed are a successful use of grazing as a management tool, brush sculpting performed in patterns that benefit a variety of wildlife species, water development that goes beyond stock tanks and windmills, and creation of about 100 acres of food plots.
Edwards Plateau -- Buckhollow Ranch, William and Jan Cato owners, Uvalde and Real Counties.
William and Jan Cato purchased the 6,000-acre Buckhollow Ranch in Uvalde and Real counties in 1997, with the sole purpose of restoring it to its natural state. The ranch's primary land management goal is to manage and improve the ranch for wildlife diversity and to provide optimum wildlife habitat. The emphasis is on improving the habitat through proper range and wildlife management and to maintain healthy, native wildlife populations, specifically nongame, threatened, and endangered species.
Two endangered bird species, black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler, occur on the ranch, and management efforts are directed at improving the habitat for those species. Several sensitive plant species occur on the ranch, including the Tobusch fishhook cactus. The Catos have donated to indigo snake research. They allow universities, natural resource agencies, groups, and individuals to observe and enjoy the ranch and wildlife, and conduct research. They strongly support and encourage youth hunting and encourage their hunters to bring children to the ranch.
More than 1,200 acres of brush management has been accomplished on the ranch during the last 4 years, to improve the overall wildlife habitat. A prescribed burning program is in effect on the ranch. More than 1,800 acres have been treated with prescribed fire to date. There are eight food plots that are planted in the winter with a mixture of oats, wheat, rye, and Austrian winter peas. In the summer they are planted with vetch, mung beans, okra, cowpeas, and soybeans. Wildlife water abundance and distribution have been improved and there are six known springs, two windmills, eight water guzzlers, and four solar powered water wells scattered throughout the ranch.
Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes -- Weinheimer Brothers Interest, Ed Weinheimer III and Steve Weinheimer owners, Wharton County.
The 1,418-acre Weinheimer Brothers Ranch is, according to waterfowl biologist David Lobpries, one of the premier mottled duck production areas along the entire Texas coast. The topography of the hay pastures and the interspersed 250 acres of wetlands, along with the habitat management of the Weinheimer Brothers, make this ranch a "mottled duck factory deluxe."
The ranch has operated under a TPWD wildlife management plan for more than 10 years.
Stocker cattle are grazed in an intensive rotational system during the spring and summer, facilitated by 17 miles of electric cross fencing and pasture irrigation. Grass reserves are left for potential drought conditions. Haying is also a source of income. Rice production was ceased and fields were converted to pasture. Haying operations are managed around mottled duck production.
Seven of 10 wetlands have been increased in size and developed totaling 250 acres under the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project (TPWP). Winter food plots are planted throughout the ranch and woodlands are fenced to exclude cattle.
High Plains -- Frost and Leland Sandhills Ranch, June Leland Wildlife Foundation, Yoakum County.
The Frost and Leland Sandhills Ranch consists of 7,418 acres of mixed grass prairie land once home to large numbers of rare prairie chickens whose habitat is slowly being reduced due to habitat fragmentation. Also occurring on the property is a healthy number of mule deer and pronghorn, badger and porcupine.
In recent years, the foundation entered into cooperative agreements with various resource agencies to cost share efforts to improve wildlife habitat on the ranch and to conduct research. These agreements include the construction of permanent wildlife watering facilities, establishment of food plots, deferred grazing during growing seasons, enhancement of habitat by reduction of undesirable plants, and a three-year research project on the lesser prairie chicken.
Future plans include development of permanent public viewing areas for educational and recreational purposes.
Cross Timbers -- Klondike Ranch, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan Boeckman owners and Jerry and Glenda Miller operators, Johnson County.
The 1,046-acre Klondike Ranch overlooking the Brazos River was founded in 1902 and owned by the Boeckmans for 14 years. They are dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of habitat for native and migratory wildlife species, including the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, which has been documented on the ranch.
An active brown-headed cowbird-trapping program is conducted to help to reduce nest parasitism and increase nesting success of resident and Neotropical songbirds. Three dozen nest boxes have been installed to provide additional nesting sites for cavity nesting bird species including eastern bluebirds, Carolina chickadees, wrens, tufted titmice and other species.
Ongoing wildlife habitat improvement includes the restoration of 168 upland acres dominated by Ashe juniper to an oak-grassland savannah, use of prescribed burning, white-tailed deer population control, livestock grazing deferment, brush management, food plots and supplemental feeding.
Pineywoods -- Johnson River Bottom Ranch, Cliff Johnson owner, Anderson County.
The 2,150-acre Johnson River Bottom ranch represents one of the most significant mature bottomland hardwood sites on the Trinity River. Adjacent to the Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area, the property is a critical part of the Middle Trinity Basin Conservation Cooperative, a 120,000-acre wildlife cooperative. The bottomland habitat contains a rich array of mature hardwoods including overcup oak, willow oak, water oak, shumard oak, and many others. Retention of this important habitat is a critical factor in restoring natural water flows and soil replenishment within the Trinity Bottom.
Approximately 40 acres of shallow water wetlands were created on the northern boundary of the property. This serves as an important waterfowl attraction, with more than 10 species of ducks observed. Within the wetland unit, water levels are timed to take advantage of summer growing conditions. Gradual release of water during spring and summer insures vegetation diversity and seed production before fall flooding, providing excellent feeding conditions for waterfowl.
Income is derived primarily from timber operations in the uplands. Selective thinning of pine and some low-quality hardwoods, in conjunction with a pine plantation on about 100 acres forms the basis of timber activities. On uplands, removing marketable timber while retaining important mast producing oaks has released a profusion of high-quality browse plants in the understory, greatly benefiting white-tailed deer. Upland birds such as woodcock are common and wild turkey nesting habitat is provided due to proper management of the uplands.
Post Oak Savannah -- Sonny D Ranch, Jim and Deborah Godwin owners and Terry Schulze operator, Caldwell County.
The first 600 acres of Sonny D Ranch were purchased in 1999 and today the ranch encompasses 813 acres. Seventy percent of the acreage consisted of post oak woodlands with a thick yaupon understory that originally provided very little diversity and habitat for wildlife. However, implementation of wildlife management and soil conservation practices has transformed the property into a healthy system with increased plant and animal diversity.
Prescribed burning is implemented annually within the post oak woods to thin the thick yaupon understory and improve the diversity of native grasses and forbs. Approximately 22 acres of food plots were created within the woodlands for white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey, and mourning dove. Numerous shelters and nest boxes have been established throughout the ranch, including 20 bluebird houses, 10 wood duck houses, 10 purple martin houses, and five bat houses.
Two existing ponds were reconstructed to increase water retention capacity and islands, inlets and lagoons were constructed and planted with herbaceous wetland plants and mast producing trees to provide habitat for waterfowl.
South Texas -- Barnhart Q5 Ranch, John N. Barnhart owner and Claire Barnhart operator, Goliad County.
The 706-acre Barnhart Q5 Ranch has made remarkable habitat enhancements in the last decade. When the Barnharts took ownership of the property it was almost entirely a solid mass of brush. They have embraced habitat management recommendations and followed them to the letter. They now have a ranch rich in native grasses and forbs with just the right mixture of brush. They are now being rewarded with a corresponding increase in wildlife species diversity and abundance that will hopefully make their eco-tourism endeavors even more promising.
The ranch has been under a TPWD management plan for over 10 years. Among the management practices implemented include a four-pasture rotational grazing system, brush sculpting for maximum edge effect, restoration of the natural flow of Indian Creek to protect large live oaks and arrest erosion. Prescribed fire is also used annually in concert with roller chopping to control brush re-growth in cleared areas.
The Texas horned lizard is present on the property and red ant beds are protected.
The ranch is leased for quail and dove hunting. The record number of coveys encountered in a morning's hunt is 34.
Trans Pecos -- Maurin Ranch, Mark Maurin-owner, Terrell County.
The 17,151-acre Maurin Ranch has been under the current ownership for the past five years. At the time of purchase, sheep and goats had heavily overgrazed the ranch and the property was in the midst of a severe 10-year drought. Despite this challenge, tremendous progress has been realized during the past five years in rangeland condition, wildlife habitat, and soil and water conservation. Management emphasis is on mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina, turkeys, scaled quail and improving the habitats that support them. However, the improved nesting cover, fawning cover, and forage diversity is benefiting a wide variety small mammals, songbirds, raptors, and large predators that reside on the property.
The ranch is accomplishing some important stewardship goals in a landscape with considerable limitations, including removal of cattle and Spanish goats, which allowed the habitat to begin the recovery process. Six water wells have been developed/maintained, which provide wildlife water to 50 troughs. Grazing deferment and deer population control have improved woody plant health and reproduction of preferred browse species.
Numerous archeological sites (Native American) exist on the property-they are strictly protected.
Corporate -- Monticello Mines, TXU Mining owner, John Denman operator, Titus and Hopkins counties.
TXU Mining's Monticello Mines complex is comprised of three lignite mining sites: Winfield North Mine, Winfield South Mine, and Thermo Mine. Since mining began in 1974, more than 17,000 acres have been reclaimed with about 7,000 acres in trees, native grasses, and wildlife habitat. In addition, 1,742 acres of wetlands, ponds, and streams have been created.
Over the past decade, land use planning has shifted away from predominately agriculture and domesticated vegetation to wildlife related uses focusing on native trees and ground covers. Together these reclaimed natural areas represent a substantial addition to the wildlife habitat in the area.
Through TXU's management practices, more than 30 species of hardwoods have been restored on uplands and bottomlands and various native grasses and forbs have been re-introduced on prairie sites, which are effectively managed with the use of prescribed fire.
The operation has also successfully created diverse wetlands focusing on emergent marshes as well as creating broad flood plains. Marshes and ponds have been created with islands so that shorebirds and waterfowl may have adequate nesting habitat to increase brood survival.
Wildlife Management Association -- Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association, John Trickett president, Colorado County.
Oakridge Ranch is a 4,200-acre rural subdivision comprised of 175 landowners that own an average of 24 acres each. No parcel ownership is smaller than 15 acres. The Association has essentially reversed much of the inevitable habitat fragmentation that occurs with such developments.
The Association is organized into Special Interest Groups, which include white-tailed deer, native plants, birding, predator control, prescribed burning, game birds, pond management, neighborly get together, an astronomy group, and communication. The association follows a TPWD approved wildlife management plan.
White-tailed deer habitat and birds are the primary management targets. Annual surveys of deer, songbirds, and wild turkey are community events. Landowners have built birdhouses, put up supplemental feeders, constructed ponds, planted food plots, and engaged in predator control. Deer harvest is stressed, especially doe harvest, to control deer numbers. Cowbirds are trapped March-May of each year. Over 300 feral hogs are removed each year.
Education is a major part of the frequent community gatherings. Speakers on some facet of wildlife/habitat management are a part of each function. The Association cooperates with the other four Colorado County Wildlife Management Associations by holding joint field days. Scouting groups have also participated in educational events. A Web site (http://www.ORWMA.org/) keeps members posted on habitat management activities and demonstrations.
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[ ] [LH]
May 17, 2004
Official State Fishing Map Is First for Texas
ATHENS, Texas -- A new official Texas freshwater fishing map available May 24 will promote family fishing and benefit the construction fund for a new education building at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
The 37-inch by 38-inch four-color map is the first of its kind for Texas, according to Eric Kincaid. His Dallas-based company, Recognition Communications, Inc., produced the map in partnership with the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) and GMC.
"The front side of the colorful shaded relief map features accurate and detailed locations of lakes on a highway map of Texas. The lakes are listed in alphabetical order, then color-coded, to help users find the region of the state where each lake is located," Kincaid said.
The back side of the map presents the lakes in tabular form and includes pertinent information about each body of water, including size, facilities available and principal types of fish present. Regulations, fishing tips and contact information for sources of information for anglers are also included.
Part of the proceeds from sales of the map will go toward the construction of a new education building at TFFC.
Locations of retailers where the map can be purchased can be found online (http://www.gofishtexasmap.com/).
PHOTO EDITORS: The map front cover image is also available as a small PDF file. Please e-mail Eric Kincaid at ekrci@msn.com and reference GFT PDF for immediate assistance.
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 17, 2004
TPWD Seeks Outside Review of Science Practices
AUSTIN, Texas -- This month, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began a voluntary review of its scientific methods by three separate outside groups. The focus is not the agency's management or policy decisions, but the science upon which those decisions are based.
The highest-profile review is a National Academy of Sciences study of the methodology used by TPWD and other agencies to determine Texas river instream flow recommendations. The estimated cost is $300,000, to be paid by the Texas Water Development Board. The NAS brought together a panel of national experts on water science and engineering for the review.
The department, the TWDB and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are now beginning a complex, long-term series of studies on Texas river instream flows, to be complete by 2010. Water experts from the three agencies have given their work plan to the NAS, which will issue a report expected to include recommendations for improvements by this October. Anyone can follow the process at on the Web (http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/InstreamFlows/NASreview/NAS_overview.html).
The American Fisheries Society is leading a science review for the TPWD Coastal Fisheries and Inland Fisheries divisions. The Wildlife Management Institute will review the TPWD Wildlife and State Parks divisions' science-based activities. Funding for both of these efforts is coming from federal State Wildlife Grants, $55,000 for the fisheries review and $70,000 for wildlife/parks, with work to be complete by January 2005.
"Our biologists have been doing good science for a long time, and parts of what we do have been peer reviewed," said Ron George, who has for many years coordinated dozens of research projects annually for the Wildlife Division.
George said these often involve university researchers working alongside TPWD biologists. When TPWD scientists publish reports in scientific journals, such as the Journal of Wildlife Management, these are sent to several anonymous experts in the field for review. He noted that other activities have not been peer-reviewed.
"I suspect the Wildlife Management Institute may tell us that some of what we're doing is state of the art, the best in the nation, such as our private lands technical guidance program and Landowner Incentive Program, which are models that are being copied in other states and at the federal level," George said.
"I also expect they'll find some things that need a little improvement, and a few things that are outdated and need to be eliminated."
The Wildlife Institute will also review scientific methods used by the Natural Resources Program staff in State Parks. These employees coordinate stewardship services, natural resource data collection and monitoring, and develop management plans for state parks.
The American Fisheries Society will review TPWD sampling procedures, data collection, and methods used to evaluate data. They'll be working with Dick Luebke, head of Inland Fisheries Division research at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Research Station near Kerrville, and Mark Fisher, Coastal Fisheries Division science director.
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[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SA]
May 17, 2004
Game Warden Memorial Honors Wesley Wagstaff
ATHENS, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently honored a fallen employee at the game warden memorial here. Game Warden Wesley Wagstaff was killed in a head-on collision while responding to a poaching call in Hardin County Aug. 5, 2003. TPWD added his name to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center memorial May 12.
Wagstaff graduated from the 43rd game warden cadet class in 1993 and was initially assigned to Harris County. Wagstaff is the 15th game warden to die in the line of duty since 1919.
Each day, nearly 500 Texas game wardens protect the state's natural resources and citizens, and a bronze life-size statue at the fisheries center honors those who have lost their lives while serving the state. Texas and American flags flank the game warden statue.
Visit the TPWD Web site for more information on game wardens killed in the line of duty (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/warden/memorial/).
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[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
May 17, 2004
Operation Game Thief Fundraiser Set for June 12
HOUSTON -- Since 1981, the Texas conservation Crimestoppers program Operation Game Thief has protected fish and wildlife, helping to keep Texas hunting and fishing among the best in the world. Now, those who love the outdoor life have a chance to support the program and have a great time to boot.
On June 12 in Houston, the annual OGT Bandana Ball banquet will feature dinner, a silent and live auction, and live music from country music singer Patrick Murphy. The event will take place at the Houston Doubletree Post Oak Hotel.
"Operation Game Thief is privately funded," said L.D. "Buddy" Turner, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asst. chief of wildlife enforcement and OGT program coordinator."And the sporting public appreciates and supports the opportunity to play an integral part through its contributions. That is why we try real hard to make each event special -- for instance with attendance by conservation leaders and through the offering of unique auction opportunities like this year's quail hunt on the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area."
OGT was authorized by the legislature in 1981, but there was no funding available to start the program. The Dallas and Houston Safari Clubs and the Aransas Rod and Gun Club provided the seed money to start OGT the following year.
Since those early days, Turner says the program's board of directors has become increasingly aggressive and innovative in promoting the OGT message. As a result, in the past two decades OGT has paid out more than $165,000 in rewards, received more than 30,000 phone calls, and helped make cases to levy more than $1 million in fines.
OGT offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals who flagrantly violate Texas game and fish laws. Those who call 800-792-GAME can remain anonymous.
For more information or tickets to the Bandana Ball, please contact Gina Nesloney at (512) 332-9880 or gnevents@austin.rr.com by email.
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[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
May 17, 2004
Renovated Matagorda Island Lighthouse Shines Again
PORT O'CONNOR, Texas -- A Matagorda Island beacon that guided ships along Texas' mid-coast before the U.S. Civil War is again lighting the way for modern mariners thanks to the recent completion of a $1.23 million overhaul of the state's oldest operational lighthouse.
Federal, state and county officials will gather at 11 a.m., Friday, June 11 at the base of the Matagorda Island Lighthouse to dedicate the renovated cast iron structure that had become compromised during more than a century of being subjected to the harsh Gulf Coast elements.
It took a little more than a year to complete the repair project that included rebuilding and shoring up the base, repainting the entire lighthouse and replacing the light room at the top. In addition, sidewalks and a restroom were added at the site that is within the boundaries of Matagorda Island State Park.
The 92-foot tall, charcoal-colored lighthouse is actually the second such structure to be built on the eastern tip of the barrier island overlooking Pass Cavallo that leads from the gulf into Matagorda Bay. The original lighthouse, known as the Matagorda Light Station, was erected in 1852, but suffered extensive damage in the early 1860s when Confederate troops removed its Fresnel lens and tried to destroy the tower when they abandoned Fort Esperanza. What remained of the old structure was dismantled and a new lighthouse erected in 1873 using the same iron plates two miles inland away from the eroding shoreline.
"The renovation of the lighthouse wouldn't have been possible without a federal grant secured through the Texas Department of Transportation and private donations raised by the Matagorda Island Foundation," said John Stuart, manager of Matagorda Island State Park. "The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Calhoun County also helped make this unique public-private partnership work."
Park visitors will not be able to climb the stairs inside the lighthouse for liability reasons, Stuart said, but they will be allowed to peer inside through a ground floor door. A private ferry under contract to the state shuttles park visitors between the mainland and Matagorda Island.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will work with the county and foundation to educate visitors about the rich history of the island, as well as its unique natural resources. Calhoun County will handle lighthouse maintenance.
In 1999, TPWD installed a new rotating, flashing light -- a solar-powered marine lantern -- that can be seen up to 10 miles away. The lighthouse, which the U.S. Coast Guard had deactivated in 1995, was relit at the stroke of midnight of the new millennium, but had been out of commission the past two months while repairs to the top of the lighthouse were completed.
Matagorda Island State Park and Wildlife Management Area occupies 43,893 acres on the northern two-thirds of the 38-mile-long island. USFWS manages 11,500 acres on the southwestern tip of the island. There is no bridge connecting the island to the mainland-the only way to get to the state park is by boat. Overnight facilities on the island are minimal but accommodating, consisting of a primitive beach campground for tent campers and two sets of converted former military barracks for group camping.
The state park headquarters is located in Port O'Connor at the intersection of 16th Street and Intracoastal Canal. For more information about Matagorda Island State Park, call (361) 983-2215.
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[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
May 17, 2004
Framers Raise New Building at Freshwater Fisheries Center
ATHENS, Texas -- The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has a new fly fishing pavilion thanks to the efforts of the Timber Framers Guild of Becket, Massachusetts.
Four instructors and a dozen students from as near as Dallas, Texas, and as far away as Ontario, Canada, made chips and shavings fly for a week as they shaped huge southern yellow pine beams and joined them. The result was a 28-foot by 40-foot pavilion to anchor TFFC's Wetlands Trail and provide a venue for fly fishing instruction and other programming.
The Timber Framers Guild erected a similar structure at the beginning of the Wetlands Trail in 2001. The workshops provide students wishing to learn timber framing a hands-on experience while producing a valuable structure for public use.
Students carry away a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as well as woodworking skills and knowledge. "I'm very tired, but I feel very good about having been part of this," said Don Lawler, a firefighter from Shreveport, Louisiana, as he stowed his tools after the last beam was put into place. Students pay a fee to attend the workshops in order to learn how to build their own timber frame structures.
The Timber Framers Guild is a nonprofit educational membership association, and community-service building projects are at the heart of their mission. "We develop and provide opportunities for adventure, education and accomplishment through community-service building projects around the world," said Joel McCarty, co-executive director of the guild. "Our partnership with TPWD-currently at three buildings and counting-is a testimony to the persistence of TFFC director Allen Forshage, who has proven adept at smoothing the way for these kinds of events. The guild's educational mission goals have been well met by our Texas projects, and we'd love to do another in two years."
The Timber Framers Guild now counts some 1,800 men and women from all over the world among its members.
Timber frame construction uses a few massive beams fastened together with wooden pegs to support a structure instead of the many smaller pieces of lumber nailed together in conventional balloon frame construction. The construction technique was brought in colonial times from England to America, where an abundance of wood made timber framing popular until balloon framing was invented in Chicago in 1833.
Balloon framing allows houses to be built much more economically by relatively unskilled workers. These techniques developed on the back of technological innovations of the early Industrial Revolution, including the engine-powered sawmill and the wire nail. Renewed interest in timber framing arose in the 1970s as part of the environmental movement and has continued to grow at a modest but steady rate.
Information about the Timber Framers Guild and future workshops can be found on the Web (http://www.tfguild.org/). The site also contains a day-by-day photographic record of the construction of the pavilion at TFFC.
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[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
May 17, 2004
Cinco De Mayo Draws 3,000 to Freshwater Fisheries Center
ATHENS, Texas -- Six-inch rains struck East Texas on Saturday, May 1, but that did not deter crowds from flooding into the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
By the time the event ended prematurely at 6:30 p.m. due to continued rainfall, more than 3,000 visitors came to enjoy tacos, mangoes-on-a-stick, conjunto music and dance performances by students from the Athens Independent School District. Many took advantage of free admission to TFFC beginning at 1 p.m. and toured the exhibits and fished in the stocked 1.5-acre pond.
The event was sponsored by the Athens High School Interact Club, the Henderson County YMCA and TFFC.
"This event is one of our biggest of the year and is the best way we have of reaching large numbers of Hispanics in our community and introducing them to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department," said TFFC director Allen Forshage. "By getting attendees interested in fishing, we hope they will go on to buy fishing licenses and become supporters of TPWD programs."
Fought on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo), 1862, the Battle of Puebla is a source of great pride for the Mexican people. Invaded and defeated by the United States in the Mexican War in 1848, Mexico suffered severe economic problems. The country borrowed heavily from European nations such as England, Spain and France but was forced to suspend payments on the debts in 1861.
Napoleon III, Emperor of France, wanted to control Mexico to get its raw materials and to check the growing power of the United States. In 1862 his invading army was met at Puebla by an untrained, poorly equipped Mexican army commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza, who was born in Goliad, Texas. Greatly outnumbered, the heroic Mexican patriots defeated the French at Puebla, though the country remained under French control until 1867.
Descendants of those brave Mexican heroes helped settle southern Texas and brought their national pride and heritage with them. Today Hispanic and Anglo peoples alike celebrate Cinco de Mayo statewide in recognition of their joint heritage.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an innovative aquatic nature center and hatchery complex operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department located 75 miles southeast of Dallas on FM 2495, four miles east of Athens. Attractions include 300,000 gallons of aquaria, daily dive shows and on-site fishing. Hours are Tue.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission fees are adults $5.50, seniors $4.50, children 4-12 $3.50. For information go on-line (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) and click on fishing or call the center at (903) 676-2277.
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[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [KE]
May 17, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Radio
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of May 17-21, we'll flex our muscles and help save a few too--mussels that is. Plus, do you know the difference between a bullfrog and a burrowing toad? We'll tell you how you can identify the croaks.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: archeologists and volunteers are finding new artifacts at San Jacinto Battleground; the third annual crab trap cleanup; nesting bald eagles who built their next to a highway are becoming a tourist attraction; and all about avoiding tick-borne diseases.
Television
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. The episode that airs the week of May 16-23 will include mountain lion research in the Trans Pecos, hiking and biking at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, seldom seen river otters, outdoor introductions, and sea turtles.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tv).
Magazine
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).
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