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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-10-17                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than eight 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]
Oct. 17, 2005
Biologists Assess Resource Damage From Hurricane Rita
AUSTIN, Texas -- Wildlife and fisheries biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department say the full impacts on natural resources from Hurricane Rita may not be realized for some time, but assessments in East Texas and along the upper coast in recent weeks indicate substantial damage to some ecosystems.
"The implication of that extensive an inundation of saltwater into freshwater wetlands will depend upon the resiliency those marshes," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., TPWD coastal fisheries director. "If we see any significant losses then we will have to deal with that, including erosion issues and perhaps an expanded low oxygen 'dead zone' out in the Gulf of Mexico that could eventually reach the Texas coast."
Nearly all of the major rivers and their tributaries in Southeast Texas experienced substantial fish kills as a result of Hurricane Rita. These include most streams east of the Trinity River and several tributaries to the Trinity River. TPWD regional director for inland fisheries Dave Terre in Tyler said he does not believe the storm crippled fish populations.
The old Jasper State Fish Hatchery sustained damage to some of the infrastructure, but the facility itself is still intact and functioning. "We don't think we lost anything in the way of fish," reported Dr. Gary Saul, hatcheries chief with TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division. "We have a big mess to clean up, but that's it so we were lucky. It shouldn't impact us as far as production. We have catfish coming out of there the end of the month for some of our community fishing areas and they should be trucked out as planned."
Winds topping 100 mph wreaked havoc on Pineywoods forests, felling numerous precious mature hardwood trees. "We do not know the extent yet of tree damage to forested interior areas on our WMAs and public hunting units and the U.S. Forest Service Lands or the Big Thicket National Preserve," said Nathan Garner, TPWD regional director for wildlife in Tyler.
Wildlife biologist Bobby Eichler noted that deer have had easy access to acorns this fall as a result, but that staple food source for whitetails and squirrels will be reduced for many years to come.
The debris is also causing problems for hunters preparing for the upcoming deer season. Instead of making last-minute preparations to camps, stands and feeders, many hunters have to start from scratch. As hunters begin piecing back together deer camps, the U.S. Forest Service is urging caution against wildfire due to a lack of rain during the storm combined with the additional fuel source from debris.
Waterfowl biologists are concerned that storm damage to marshlands in Louisiana and Texas could pose problems for wintering ducks and geese that rely on those food sources. "There's still a seed source out there, but a lot of the submerged stuff is unavailable," said Dave Morrison, TPWD waterfowl program leader. "Mottled ducks are a big concern. Did they get out of there or did they stay and get hammered? We just don't know yet."
Reports from primary waterfowl wintering areas like the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and the J.D. Murphree WMA indicate the presence of "black water" in parts of the marshes where submerged vegetation and invertebrates were wiped out, while other parts are showing some positive initial results. "Some of the marsh had millet washed in from the rain, which should attract and hold some ducks," offered Len Polasek, TPWD regional director for wildlife along the upper coast. "We've found some damage and erosion on some of the levees at the Murphree area from the storm surge and around the water control structures at Salt Bayou on the Intracoastal."
Polasek said public waterfowl hunting will take part as scheduled on area WMAs, but due to irreparable damage to the check station at Salt Bayou, hunts for that unit and the Big Hill Unit will be conducted from the Murphree area.
Scientists say hurricanes, droughts and other environmental extremes are a natural part of the processes that have shaped Gulf estuaries, ecologically important areas where freshwater from rivers enters saltwater bays. Estuarine ecosystems historically have normally rebounded fairly quickly from such events. Scientists say what complicates the picture now are human influences.
"In the last hundred years, we have lost about half of our Texas coastal wetlands, diverted freshwater inflows into bays and diminished water quality in coastal waters to the point that hurricane recovery may be prolonged in some areas," McKinney said.
"Our estuaries are remarkably resilient and productive so they will come back but there are limits and Rita and Katrina remind us of those limits on both an ecological and human scale."
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
Oct. 17, 2005
Texas State Parks Celebrate Halloween
AUSTIN, Texas -- Halloween celebrations move outdoors for more than trick-or-treating at seven Texas state parks and historic sites.
Dr. Ward Albro will present a "Dia de los Muertos" lecture on Thursday, Oct. 27 at Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville to explain how this Aztec tradition dating 3,000 years has been intermixed with Halloween festivities in the United States. Albro's presentation, which takes place at 7 p.m., is based on 10 years of his visiting and participating in the essentially indigenous Day of the Dead event with the Zapotec people of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. There is no event fee, but persons 13 years of age and older must pay a $2 entry fee. Call (830) 931-2133 for more information.
In recent years, Dia de los Muertos has become an increasingly popular observance all over Mexico and has been observed for many years in Alsatian-founded community of Castroville by the candle lighting of the city cemetery. Held traditionally on Nov. 1-2 -- All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day -- the Day of the Dead is a festive celebration that embraces death, not as the end of life, but the continuation of life when the dearly departed are honored with altars decorated with flowers, pictures of the dead and the deceased's favorite food.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, Varner-Hogg State Historic Site in West Columbia just south of Houston will host Haunted Halloween at the Hogg from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be fun for witches and goblins of all ages with a haunted barn to explore, hayrides, fortune telling and goodies for all. There is an event fee of $3 per person. Call (979) 345-4656 for additional information.
On that same day, Purtis Creek State Park in Eustace southeast of Dallas will feature a Haunted House from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Haunted House will be open the following Saturday, Oct. 29, as well to welcome children and adults alike. The cost is $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 and younger.
Purtis Creek also has become a popular Halloween destination for swarms of trick or treaters, who go campsite to campsite, visiting participating campsites marked with pumpkins. A hay wagon is used to transport trick-of-treaters around the camping loops to gather goodies. In conjunction with the hayride, the park will have a Halloween carnival featuring several fun family activities. No park entry fees will be charged to members of the public participating in Halloween activities. For more information, call (903) 425-2332.
Also on Oct. 29, Galveston Island State Park and Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site in Paris will host special Halloween activities.
Highlighting the Halloween festivities from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Galveston Island State Park will be ghost stories told around the campfire and a hayride to the haunted Nature Center on the bayside of the park, where treats will be handed out. Call (409) 737-1222 for more information and to reserve space on the hayride.
Children of all ages can learn about fine fashions of the Victorian era by participating in hands-on activities making hats and accessories to take home at Sam Bell Maxey House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 29. Free tours of the historic home and fine fashions exhibit, sponsored by the Friends of the Maxey House, are being held in conjunction with City of Paris' Festival of Pumpkins. Call (903) 785-5716 for details.
Lake Texana State Park in Edna will once again feature a Halloween Haunted Trail from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Oct. 29. There will be a haunted trail, hayride, costume contest and games for all ages. For more, call (361) 782-5718.
On the day before Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 30, revelers can visit Guadalupe River State Park near Spring Branch to walk a haunted trail for treats, roast marshmallows, hear ghost stories and enjoy refreshments. The community-supported event lasts from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and costs $6 per car and $2 per child donation to Friends of Guadalupe River/Honey Creek State Natural Area. Call (830) 438-2656 for more information.
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Oct. 17, 2005
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center To Close for Repairs
ATHENS, Texas-The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center will be closed for repairs Nov. 28, 2005, through Jan. 2, 2006.
"This will be the first time in the nine years the center has been open that we will be closed to the public for an extended period of time," said TFFC director Allen Forshage.
The primary purpose for the closure is to allow repairs to be made to the foundation beneath the dive tank, a 26,000-gallon aquarium that houses Splash, the 121.5-pound 20-pound test line world record blue catfish, as well as several Budweiser ShareLunker largemouth bass and other fish.
The 200,000 pounds of water in the tank have caused some settling to occur, putting stress on piping, walls and possibly the 5.5-inch acrylic viewing panel that makes up the front of the aquarium. Holes will be drilled into the foundation and grout pumped in to fill any voids and stabilize the slab. The work will require that the water be drained from the dive tank and all other contents removed.
Fish in the tank will be temporarily relocated to holding tanks in other parts of the facility. Stocking of rainbow trout in the casting pond will be delayed until the center reopens to visitors. Operation of the rest of the facility, including the administrative offices, the fish hatchery and the Lunker Bunker where Budweiser ShareLunkers are housed, will not be affected.
"Because the contractor will have to use the parking lot and public walkways to move equipment and personnel, we must close the center to protect the safety of the public," Forshage said. "While we are closed to visitation, TFFC staff will be making other needed repairs as well as doing some major cleaning. We regret the inconvenience the closing will cause, but we feel we will be better able to serve our visitors once we reopen."
Forshage encourages anyone who has been planning to visit TFFC during the holiday season to do so before the temporary closure.
Repair work on the dive tank will be carried out under the supervision of Freese and Nichols, Inc., of Fort Worth, the consulting engineers on the construction of the center.
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
[ Additional Contacts: Annette Paulin, River Systems Institute, (512) 558-4523, flowsconference@grandecom.net ]
Oct. 17, 2005
Water Flows Conference Set for Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in San Marcos
SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Scientists, policy makers, water managers and interested citizens will gather at Texas State University here Oct. 31-Nov. 2 to discuss how to ensure adequate environmental flows for Texas rivers and streams and freshwater inflows into bays and estuaries along the Texas coast.
The university's River Systems Institute will convene Flows for the Future: 2005 Environmental Flows Conference on the university campus.
Scientists connected with the conference say Texas freshwater resources have been over allocated and will continue to be appropriated to meet the growing demands of water needs in Texas. With the diversion of these freshwater resources over the next decade, scientists say the loss in adequate freshwater flows will compromise the integrity of Texas springs, rivers, coastal bays, and estuaries.
A variety of efforts have been carried out by many organizations to find a balance in meeting Texas water needs and protecting these systems through study programs, legislative proposals, permit applications, and water resource planning. However, scientists say the state still lacks a framework for determining flow needs, planning applications for meeting future water needs and ensuring adequate flows to Texas rivers, bays, and estuaries.
"Water is the most critical natural resource issue facing Texas in the next generation and the most important environmental issue will be maintaining environmental flows down our streams and into our bays and estuaries," said Andrew Sansom, River Systems Institute executive director.
As part of the Institute's water conference series, this conference will integrate scientific research and technology, management strategies, and policy development to address the need for frameworks of cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, and management and policy to address environmental flow issues.
"Providing enough clean water flowing in our rivers and down to our coastal bays is a huge conservation challenge that affects every single Texan," said Robert L. Cook, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "State leaders carefully considered several options to protect river instream flows and bay inflows in the recent legislative session, but exactly how Texas can best do this remains an open question, so this conference is important and timely."
The conference agenda consists of three days of plenary sessions, panel discussion, and continuing education courses and is designed to meet the interests of the water resources community, policy makers, water resource managers, government officials, stakeholders, and interest groups. Plenary talks will be presented by leaders in the fields of water science and policy and will include representatives from the Texas state legislature. Co-sponsorship and agenda development have been provided through collaborative efforts of a number of governmental and non-profit agencies and education and research institutions including Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and the San Antonio River Authority.
Texas State University established the International Institute for Sustainable Water Resources in January 2002 as a leadership initiative for university-wide efforts in the field of aquatic resource management. In 2005, the IISWR was renamed the River Systems Institute, reflecting a sharpened emphasis on the primary importance of river systems in the hydrologic cycle.
For more information about the conference, contact the River Systems Institute at (512) 245-9200. A complete agenda and registration information are on the institute Web site.
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On the Net:
http://rivers.txstate.edu/flows2005/
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Oct. 17, 2005
Enhanced Budweiser ShareLunker Database Now Online
ATHENS, Texas -- Big bass nerds everywhere take note: Information about entries in the Budweiser ShareLunker program can now be searched online.
The on-line database has two modes, basic and advanced. The basic mode allows online searches by season, reservoir and angler name. It also includes links to photos of anglers and their fish where available.
To access the database, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/budsharelunker/ and click on the button "Search ShareLunker Entries" under the picture.
Clicking on the advanced search button on the above page takes you to a list of all ShareLunkers. This list can be sorted by date, angler name, weight, length, girth, water body, day of week or moon phase simply by clicking on the column heading. ShareLunkers that are current water body records are also identified. Users can perform additional searches using buttons provided at the top of the page.
A button on the advanced search page allows you to download an Excel file to your computer that includes all the information above through the 2004-2005 season. This file will be updated after the close of each season, which ends April 30 each year.
Anglers legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more between October 1 and April 30 may enter the fish into the Budweiser ShareLunker program by calling (903) 681-0550 or leaving a page, including area code, at (888) 784-0600. The angler may choose to have the fish returned after the spawning season or donate the fish to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/budsharelunker/
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
Oct. 17, 2005
San Pedro Ranch Wins Range Management Award
AUSTIN, Texas -- The San Pedro Ranch owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons and his family has received the 2005 Outstanding Rangeland Stewardship Award from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assoc. and the Texas Section of the Society for Range Management.
The award was presented Oct. 6 at the TSSRM annual awards banquet at South Padre Island. This is the second year for this award, which was created "to recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding skill and knowledge in practicing sound management and care of rangeland resources."
An award nomination letter said "the San Pedro Ranch shows great biodiversity, improved water and nutrient cycles and healthy wildlife habitat compatible with a successful livestock grazing program." The awards committee also noted that "the family was willing to share what they've done and has hosted workshops and tours to showcase conservation management practices over the years."
The 24,000-acre ranch is in Dimmitt County southwest of Carrizo Springs.
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On the Net:
http://www.tssrm.org/awards.htm
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KL]
[ Local Interview Contact: Jesús Franco, (956) 571-5359, jesus.franco@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Oct. 17, 2005
Workshop Offers Tips for Valley Landowners
MCALLEN, Texas -- A workshop to be held Nov. 5 will educate Rio Grande Valley landowners about available land management tools. The workshop is part of a statewide series designed to address the growing problem of Texas rural land being fragmented into smaller tracts, often involving urban-based owners who are interested in wildlife conservation but lack experience in wildlife or land management.
For more than a century, rural Texas land has been owned mainly by farm and ranch families who lived on it. In recent decades, the countryside has been fragmented into smaller tracts owned increasingly by urban, absentee owners looking for a weekend retreat or retirement home. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that Texas led the nation in the loss of undeveloped land from 1992-97.
Land fragmentation is one of the main threats to wildlife in Texas. It crowds wildlife into smaller spaces, blocks travel corridors and disrupts access to feeding areas.
The McAllen workshop will discuss the tools, people and funding programs available to help landowners achieve individual goals when managing property for wildlife. Local wildlife professionals will give presentations regarding habitat management techniques, funding sources, species management, wildlife tax valuation, etc. throughout the workshop. Farmers and ranchers will also share their experience regarding what works.
"The importance of working toward habitat restoration is crucial in the most biodiverse area in the U.S. where 97 percent of the native habitat has been lost to urban development, agriculture, etc," said Jesús Franco, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department urban wildlife biologist and the workshop's organizer. "Local farmers will talk about their conservation partnership with a national nonprofit organization; a local landscaper will talk about techniques and strategies to provide for wildlife; and a local land trust will explain how conservation easements can protect land in ways that benefit landowners and wildlife."
TPWD, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and the Rio Grande Valley chapter Texas Master Naturalists are sponsoring the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5 at McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Avenue in McAllen.
The cost for the workshop is $25 per person or $40 per couple, which covers lunch, refreshments and materials. Registration is required by Nov. 2 to ensure that organizers have sufficient workshop materials for attendees. For more information and reservations, go to http://www.rgvctmn.org or contact Franco at (956) 571-5359 or jesus.franco@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
Oct. 17, 2005
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 more than 100 Texas stations. For more information, visit the Web.
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.
Television
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web.
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.
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On the Net:
Passport to Texas: http://www.passporttotexas.org/
TPWD on PBS: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/tv/
TPW Magazine: http://www.tpwmagazine.com/
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