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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-01-30                                    |
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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]
Jan. 30, 2006
TPWD Unveils Proposed Hunting, Fishing Rule Changes
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is recommending changes to next year's hunting and fishing regulations, expanding upon the success of several resource management initiatives.
Proposals being considered include: an expansion of special whitetail buck harvest regulations into 40 more counties, broadening of the popular Managed Lands Permit Program to include provisions for upland game birds and elimination of the trophy tarpon tagging requirements.
The department will be seeking comment on these and other proposed changes to the state's hunting and fishing regulations during an upcoming series of public hearings.
Each year, TPWD considers changes in hunting and fishing regulations to achieve resource management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities consistent with good stewardship. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will make a final decision on the proposals during its April 5 public hearing.
Expand special buck harvest regulations in 40 counties: Among the most ambitious proposals considered is an expansion of special antler restrictions on whitetail deer. Antler restriction regulations currently in effect in 21 counties in the Oak Prairie ecoregion have been effective in improving the age structure of the buck herd, increasing hunter opportunity, and encouraging landowners and hunters to become more actively involved in better habitat management.
Under the regulation, a lawful buck is defined as any buck having at least one unbranched antler OR an inside antler spread of at least 13 inches. The bag limit in the affected counties would be two lawful bucks, no more than one of which may have an inside spread of greater than 13 inches.
Additional counties being considered under this regulation include: Bell, Bosque, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Comal (east of IH 35), Comanche, Coryell, Delta, Eastland, Erath, Fannin, Franklin, Gregg, Hamilton, Harrison, Hays (east of IH 35), Hopkins, Houston, Lamar, Lampasas, Leon, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Somervell, Titus, Travis (east of IH 35), Upshur, Williamson, Wilson, and Wood counties.
Hunting pressure on buck deer in these counties has been excessive for many years. In 1971, the bag limit in most counties in the eastern third of the state was reduced from two bucks to one in an effort to mitigate excessive hunting pressure.
Despite the reduction, the data continues to indicate excessive harvest of bucks, which results in very poor age structure. Research results indicate that poor age structure within a buck herd creates a longer breeding season, which in turn leads to a longer fawning season and a reduction in fawn production. Poor age structure also contributes to adverse hunter satisfaction.
The criteria used for candidate counties were: the county currently must be a one-buck county, 60 percent of the buck harvest in the county must consist of bucks less than 3.5 years of age, and the county must have a contiguous border with another county in which antler restriction regulations have been implemented. On this basis, the department identified the 40 counties affected by the proposed amendment.
Expand managed lands permits to upland game birds: Another proposal would allow for the establishment of special seasons and bag limits for upland game birds (Rio Grande turkey, quail, pheasant, lesser prairie-chicken, and chachalaca), by species, on properties managed by the landowner under a department-approved wildlife management plan.
The plan would be required to incorporate habitat-based management regimes beneficial to these upland game bird species. In return, landowners would be given additional flexibility in managing harvest based on annual quotas determined by a combination of data including existing habitat conditions and quality of improvements, populations surveys to determine bird production and considerations to assure carrying through a surplus sufficient to maintain or increase future population levels, and keeping decisions based on management goals.
The department believes that the use of incentives such as enhanced bag limits and extended season lengths are useful tools to encourage landowners to engage in practices that are scientifically proven to maintain healthy ecosystems.
Create harvest rules for alligator hunting: TPWD is also proposing to establish the open seasons, rules for tag issuance and use, reporting requirements, and provisions for the sale of alligators taken under a Texas hunting license in counties outside the historic range of the American alligator in Texas; basically counties outside East Texas and along the coast.
Increase deer bag limit in Upton County: TPWD is also proposing to implement a four-deer bag limit for the entirety of Upton County. Under current rules, the bag limit in the portions of Upton County that are either north of U.S. Highway 67 or both south of U.S. Highway 67 and west of State Highway 349 is three deer.
If implemented, the entire county would have a January muzzleloader season for antlerless and spike-buck deer. Department data indicate that deer populations in the northern and western parts of the county are increasing and able to withstand additional hunting pressure.
Additionally, the counties adjoining Upton County on the east and northeast (Glasscock and Reagan counties) contain deer densities similar to those found in Upton County but are under a more liberal regulation (5 deer; no more than 2 bucks) than that being proposed for Upton County. The regulations have been in effect in Glasscock and Reagan counties for five years, and the deer herds in these counties have experienced no adverse impacts. The department therefore does not anticipate that the proposed amendment will result in either waste or depletion of the resource. The proposal also would expand the late muzzleloader season countywide.
Prohibit harvest of largetooth sawfish (Pristis perotteti). The proposal is necessary because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) as endangered. Due to the extreme difficulty in distinguishing the smalltooth sawfish from the largetooth sawfish, the department believes that protection of both species is the only way to protect the listed species.
Eliminate trophy tarpon tag: TPWD is also proposing to eliminate the requirement that tarpon be tagged and instead would implement a minimum length limit. Under current rules, no person may catch and retain a tarpon of less than 80 inches in length, but may retain one tarpon of more than 80 inches in length by tagging the fish with the trophy tarpon tag from the person's fishing license.
The proposed amendment would eliminate the tagging requirement and replace it with a bag limit of one tarpon of 80 inches in length or longer per person.
Alter black drum harvest rules: A similar proposal also would modify the rules governing possession of black drum. Currently, black drum are managed by means of a bag limit combined with minimum and maximum size limits. The proposed amendment would allow a person to keep one black drum of greater than 52 inches in length per day.
Reduce possession limits on flounder: The department is proposing a reduction to the possession limit for flounder taken under a recreational license. Under current rule, the possession limit for any fish is twice the daily bag limit, unless specified otherwise. Thus, with a daily bag limit of 10, the possession limit for flounder is 20, and for those flounder fishing trips which last past midnight the 20 fish per angler possession limit applies. The proposed change would make the possession limit identical to the daily bag limit.
Naming tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis) a game fish: TPWD proposes to list tripletail as a game fish and create a minimum size of 17 inches and daily bag limit of 3 fish [6 in possession]. This rule is similar to what other states have adopted and since tripletail females reach reproductive maturity at about 17 inches, this would provide protection through at least an initial spawning cycle."
Increasing minimum length limits on largemouth bass: The current harvest regulations for largemouth bass on 250-acre Marine Creek Reservoir (Tarrant County) consist of statewide 14-inch minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag limit. The proposal would implement an 18-inch minimum length limit. The change is necessary because Marine Creek Reservoir has been selected to be involved in the Operation World Record research project.
The project will involve stocking coded-wire tagged largemouth bass and monitoring their growth for a minimum of five years following stocking. The stocked bass are ShareLunker offspring and are valuable, considering the limited number that will be produced and their importance to the project.
The ShareLunker program allows anglers to loan largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more to the department for spawning and research purposes, which include the study of genetics, life history, growth, performance, behavior, and competition. The increased length limit will protect the stocked bass through at least 18 inches and will increase the department's ability to evaluate their performance in natural systems.
Add baitfish restrictions in Kinney County: The proposal would add Kinney County to current list of counties where bait fish are restricted to common carp, fathead minnows, gizzard and threadfin shad, golden shiners, goldfish, Mexican tetra, Rio Grande cichlid, silversides (Atherinidae family), and sunfish (Lepomis). The restrictions were promulgated to protect endangered pupfish (Cyprinodon) in the western Texas.
The proposed change would also protect the Devils River minnow, which only occurs in Val Verde and Kinney counties. Currently, 17 counties in that area, including Val Verde County, have a similar restriction on certain baitfishes.
Allow bowfishermen to take catfish: Another proposal would make bowfishing a legal means for the take of flathead, channel and blue catfish. Bag, possession and size restrictions would mirror current regulations for legal means and methods for harvest.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment.
2006 TPWD Statewide Public Hearing Calendar
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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]
Jan. 30, 2006
Hunter Education Course Fee Increase Approved
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted a fee increase for attending a hunter education class from $10 to $15. The increase will take effect June 1, 2006.
According to Steve Hall, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Education Director, the increase is a needed incentive to increase volunteer instructor recruitment efforts.
Under current rule, an instructor is authorized to retain $5, which has been in effect since 1995. The department has determined that economic factors have affected the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by volunteer instructors over the last 10 years, and that it is appropriate to increase the amount retained by volunteer instructors.
"Volunteer instructors are the backbone of the hunter education program," said Hall. "Last year, approximately 2,500 volunteers provided hunter education training to 32,000 persons in Texas."
Every hunter (including out-of-state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas.
There are some exceptions for youngsters. Youth younger than 12 can hunt but must be accompanied by a person licensed to hunt in Texas who has completed a hunter education course, or is exempt by age. Youth ages 12-16 can hunt on their own if they have completed hunter education, but adult supervision is recommended.
Currently, there are three ways to take hunter education, traditional classroom instruction, home study and skills trail testing and an online course with skills trail testing. Home study and online course participants must come to a testing site to complete their training.
TPWD is looking at additional innovative alternatives to provide effective and convenient hunter education training, including the potential use of new technology using simulated live fire exercises through computer technology. The department also offers a deferral program that allows hunters to purchase a $10 "waiver" good for up to one year under certain provisions.
A complete listing of hunter education courses is on the TPWD Web site.
Since 1972, over 713,000 Texans have completed the hunter education course, which is mandatory in 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Hunter education became a legal requirement in 1988. Partly as a result of hunter education, Texas hunting accident rates have steadily decreased from a high of more than 12 accidents per 100,000 hunters in 1966 to below five accidents per 100,000 hunters in recent years.
Volunteer instructors must be at least 21 years old, have taken the hunter education course, filled out an application, and been through a game warden interview and an instructor course. Anyone interested can contact TPWD at (800) 792-1112, Ext. 4999 or see the TPWD Web site.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu/hunted/
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
Jan. 30, 2006
New Off-Highway Vehicle Decal To Fund Trail Grants
AUSTIN, Texas -- As directed by a new state law, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is starting a new Texas Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program that requires people who buy a vehicle sold for off road use on public land in Texas to buy an annual decal. Decal sales revenue will fund grants to create or improve motor vehicle parks in Texas.
Decals are not required for OHV use on private lands.
For the first year of the program, the OHV decal will cost $8 and will be current from Jan. 1-Aug. 31, 2006. After the first year, OHV decals will be good from Sep. 1 through the following Aug. 31, matching the TPWD fiscal year.
OHV decals are now available for sale, and game wardens will begin enforcing the new rules. A person caught riding on public land without a decal could be issued a citation and fined.
Decals can be purchased over the phone with a credit card by calling (512) 389-8917. Eventually, decals may be sold over the Internet and at some OHV parks and dealerships.
The 78th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 155 several years ago, which closed all navigable stream beds in Texas, except for some parts of the Canadian and Red Rivers, to motorized recreational vehicles. That law also directed TPWD to "facilitate development of sites for motor vehicle recreation other than protected freshwater areas."
The more recent 79th Texas Legislature in 2005 enacted Senate Bill 1311, which created the new OHV decal and program administered by the department.
The department administers another grant program that can fund off-highway vehicle projects. The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) is an 80-20 matching grant that requires recipients to provide an amount equal to 20 percent of the federal grant. Funds come from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. A federal requirement is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary.
"There is a growing demand for OHV recreation areas in Texas, and most off-road enthusiasts will tell you there are too few places for people to ride," said Steve Thompson with the TPWD Recreational Grants Branch in Austin.
"Our agency has been directed by the legislature to provide more OHV opportunities. We want to do that in ways that are safe and environmentally sustainable and that maintain good relations with neighbors and local communities."
The Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area in Northeast Texas is one example of an OHV venue. The Texas Motorized Trails Coalition has operated the 1,800-acre site in Upshur County since 2000. Facilities include showers, restrooms, an air station, pavilion, office and campsites with R/V hookups and electricity. News articles have quoted local officials in nearby Gilmer praising the operation as safe and positive in bringing economic development to the area.
Relatively few public parks or public lands in Texas currently allow OHV recreation. The department is compiling a list of public parks or land where OHV recreation is legal. Shown below, the list currently stands at 16 locations, but it is expected to change as TPWD gets new information. This list of OHV legal sites is in draft form. The list is expected to be complete later this month will eventually be published on the department Web site.
Eisenhower State Park north of Dallas is the only state park that offers OHV recreation, but only in a 10-acre Mini Bike Park within the state park. TPWD wildlife management areas are not open to recreational trail riding; however, ATV use by people with disabilities who have an official placard or license plate is allowed for them to travel to and from hunting or fishing locations in WMAs.
Goals of the new OHV program are to establish and maintain a public system of trails and other recreational areas for off-highway vehicles, improve existing trails and other recreational areas and foster responsible use of off-highway vehicles.
The legislation defines "off-highway vehicle" as either (1) an all-terrain vehicle, as defined by Section 663.001 of the Transportation Code; (2) an off-highway motorcycle; or (3) any other four-wheel drive vehicle not registered to be driven on a highway.
The new decal is required for any OHV operating in Texas on public land or on land purchased with grant funding from TPWD.
Parks and Public Lands in Texas Where the Texas OHV Decal Is Required
Austin/Travis County:
--Emma Long City Park (Motorcycles only)
Silverton/Briscoe County:
--Lake Mackenzie Recreation Area (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
Pampa/Gray County:
--McClellan National Grassland (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
Brenham/Washington County:
--US Army Corp of Engineers Lake Summerville/Rocky Creek OHV area (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
Montgomery/Walker & Grimes Counties:
--Sam Houston National Forest (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
Brownsville/Cameron County:
--Boca Chica Beach (ATV's only)
Gilmer/Upshur County:
--Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area (ATV's, Motorcycles & Full Size OHV's)
Pottsboro/Grayson County:
--Eisenhower State Park (10 acre Mini Bike Park only)
Fabens/El Paso County:
--San Felipe County Park (Dune Buggies, ATV's & Motorcycles)
Trophy Club/Denton County:
--Marshall Creek OHV Area (ATV's, Motorcycles & Full Size OHV's)
Big Spring/Howard County:
--Moss Creek Lake Recreation Area (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
San Angelo/Tom Green County:
--Twin Buttes Reservoir Park (ATV's & Motorcycles only)
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area/Alibates National Monument/Moore & Potter Counties:
--Blue Creek OHV Area (ATV's, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV's, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).
--Rosita OHV Area (ATV's, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV's, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).
Navigable Rivers: (ATV's, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV's, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).
--Canadian River: (Oldham, Potter, Hutchinson, Roberts, & Hemphill Counties) (ATV's, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV's, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).
--Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River: (Randall, Armstrong, and Briscoe Counties) (ATV's, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV's, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).
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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]
Jan. 30, 2006
Crockett County Motorized Trail Grant Approved
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Jan. 26 approved a $1,359,500 grant to the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition, a not for profit organization, to acquire 3,323 acres in Crockett County for the purpose of developing a managed off-highway vehicle recreation area.
After hearing public testimony for and against the grant proposal, the commission voted to approve land acquisition for the project, with the understanding that before the site is open to the public the state agency staff would come back to the commission for approval of a plan to develop and operate the motor vehicle park.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grants staff committed to work with all parties involved to plan site development to try to accommodate concerns of neighboring landowners. The property is being purchased from a willing seller. Local officials and business owners -- including the local chamber of commerce -- from nearby Ozona also are supportive. Several nearby property owners have voiced strong opposition.
"It's important to understand that the Texas Motorized Trails Coalition won't just buy this property and open the gate in a free-for-all," said Walt Dabney, director of the TPWD State Parks Division, which includes the department's Recreational Grants Branch. "They have strict rules of conduct. You have to stay on designated trails, and if your conduct is unacceptable, you're out of there. They pride themselves on doing a good job of managing a site, and they've demonstrated that with Barnwell Mountain."
The Texas Motorized Trails Coalition has operated the 1,800-acre Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area near Gilmer in Upshur County in Northeast Texas since 2000. Facilities include showers, restrooms, an air station, pavilion, office and campsites with R/V hookups and electricity.
"The Texas Motorized Trails Coalition has a safe and successful operation near Gilmer," said John Parker, TPW commissioner from Lufkin. "The local community there loves it, because it brings in a ton of business."
Coalition secretary and research chemist Dick Stuart told commissioners about preliminary results of a university research study contracted by the coalition. He said this shows that visitors to the Barnwell Mountain area in a six month period spent an average of about $20,000 per weekend in Upshur County and surrounding communities on lodging, food, supplies and other expenses. He said this is estimated to generate more than $1 million per year in out-of-county visitor spending.
The department held two public meetings in Ozona in September and October last year to get community input on the proposed Crockett County project and has also done an initial natural and cultural resource survey. The grants program staff presented the proposal to the TPW Commission on Nov. 8. Because of landowner concerns expressed then, commissioners directed the staff to continue to study the proposal and seek additional public comment.
Concerns about the project include the possibility of increased traffic, noise pollution, grass fires and erosion. The TPWD staff believes these concerns can be addressed by controlling site development to make sure there are adequate visual and noise buffer zones along the perimeter, plus good fences to control traffic and prevent trespass onto neighboring land.
The site includes a canyon approximately 300 feet below the main landscape level, and planners believe noise can be minimized if most activity takes place down in the canyon. The trails coalition said the property has two water wells with 20,000-gallon storage, and the group intends to create a fire substation on site. Regarding erosion, the site contains no running streams or springs. The project calls for silt retention structures to minimize off-site erosion run-off during storms.
The site was chosen because of its remoteness, good paved access and low likelihood to impact natural or cultural resources. All necessary natural and cultural resource clearances and permits would be obtained prior to construction.
Two recently enacted state laws are driving the creation of new off-highway vehicle recreation areas in Texas.
The 78th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 155 several years ago, which closed all navigable stream beds in Texas, except for some parts of the Canadian and Red Rivers, to motorized recreational vehicles. That law also directed TPWD to "facilitate development of sites for motor vehicle recreation other than protected freshwater areas."
The more recent 79th Texas Legislature last year enacted Senate Bill 1311, which directed TPWD to establish and maintain a public system of trails and other recreational areas for use by off-highway vehicles.
The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) is the funding source for the Crockett County grant. This 80-20 matching grant program requires grant recipients to come up with an additional amount equal to 20 percent of the federal grant.
These funds come from the federal tax generated by gasoline purchases for off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. The purpose is to create and maintain motorized and non-motorized recreational trails.
A federal requirement is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/trpa/
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[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
Jan. 30, 2006
TPW Commission Awards $2.74 Million in Recreation Grants
AUSTIN, Texas -- Seven Texas communities will receive $2.74 million in outdoor and indoor recreation grants to help acquire parkland and develop recreational facilities as a result of Thursday's action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The only indoor grant approved for funding was $417,563 in matching funds to expand the Bridgeport Indoor Recreation Center in Wise County. The city plans to renovate the center and expand it from 7,011 square feet to 22,841 square feet at a total cost of $1.54 million. Proposed development includes a gym with basketball court and two volleyball courts, walking track, boxing ring, weight room, children's activity room, dance/aerobics room, climbing wall, senior activity center, arts and crafts room, offices and storage.
The Bridgeport project was one of five considered for funding by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TPWD retained another $417,563 in appropriated funds to award during the 2006-2007 biennium.
At its Thursday meeting, the commission also approved $2,032,323 in matching funds for six communities to acquire and develop outdoor recreation sites. The funding pool included FY2006 Texas Recreation and Parks Account revenues and previous Land and Water Conservation Fund (National Park Service) monies received by Texas to help provide basic outdoor public recreation facilities.
The priority projects selected from 22 sponsors by TPW staff were based on a competitive scoring system taking into account site visits and project analyses. For more information on local park grants, contact TPWD's Recreation Grants Program at (512) 912-7124.
The Commission awarded outdoor recreation grants for projects in the following amounts:
--$500,000 in matching funds to the City of Harlingen in Cameron County for Pendleton Park
--$500,000 in matching funds to the City of Odessa in Ector County for expansion and further development of facilities at McKinney Park.
--$500,000 in matching funds to the City of Taylor in Williamson County to develop East Williamson County Park.
--$269,579 in matching funds to the City of Belton in Bell County for the acquisition of land and development of Harris Park.
--$245,895 in matching funds to the City of El Cenizo in Webb County to expand Municipal Park and develop various recreational facilities.
--$180,988 in matching funds to the City of Hondo to develop 20 acres on city-owned non-parkland as a Nature Trail and Park.
The TRPA program was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions in Texas in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is derived from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods, is dedicated solely for park funding and does not come from funds earmarked for hunting and fishing purposes.
In other business, the commission was briefed by Recreation Grants Branch staff on proposed changes to the various recreational grants programs administered by TPWD necessitated by significant reductions in state and federal funds appropriated for the TRPA program.
The staff's recommendations in administrative changes and funding reductions were based upon feedback from 30 constituents, which included political subdivisions of Texas, regional councils of government and others.
The commission accepted the following recommendations:
--To reduce the Outdoor Recreation Grants Program reviews from two to one per year, to review the next round of applications review on July 31, 2006 and to award funds at the January 2007 commission hearing.
--To reduce the maximum amount in the outdoor program from $500,000 to $400,000 per application, beginning with the July 31, 2006 review.
--Postpone the regional grant reviews until adequate funding is available.
--Reduce the Community Outdoor Outreach Program reviews to one per year, with the next review of applications to be in February 2006.
Grants staff also recommended that if additional LWCF monies are apportioned by the National Park Service, those additional funds shall first be used to restore the maximum allowable request per outdoor program application to $500,000; secondly, be used to fund additional outdoor projects, and then if adequate funding still remains, that an annual regional grant program review be reinstated.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/trpa/
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[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 30, 2006
TPW Commission Approves $1.5 Million for Boating Access
AUSTIN, Texas -- Thanks to action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Thursday, the City of West Tawakoni will be able to build its first boat ramp on Lake Tawakoni, and the Willacy County Navigation District will be able to dredge the Port Mansfield channel to navigable depths.
Those are just two of the six boating access projects TPW commissioners voted to fund in their January meeting. The action will provide $1,541,957 in State Boating Access Program matching grants to local entities on both inland and coastal waters.
"We're interested in providing additional opportunities for boating access where needed," said Tim Hogsett, TPWD's recreation grants director. "This is pass-through money. It's a reinvestment back into boating of tax dollars that have been paid by boaters."
Hogsett said TPWD now awards the grants twice a year, with deadlines June 30 and Oct. 31.
The State Boating Access Program was authorized in 1975 by the 64th Legislature. The program provides funds for the purchase, construction, renovation and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and other related facilities to improve public recreational boating access to public waters.
The program receives funding from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as the Wallop-Breaux Program. Construction for approved projects is supported on a 75 percent (federal), 25 percent (local) basis.
Wallop-Breaux funds are derived from federal gasoline taxes paid by boaters and by law must be used to facilitate access for motorized vessels.
The approved projects are:
--$375,000 for City Park Boat Ramp Development, City of West Tawakoni. The City of West Tawakoni requested a 75 percent matching share grant for construction of a two-lane boat ramp, access road, parking area, bulkheads, restroom, courtesy dock and signs.
--$499,987 for Calaveras Lake Boat Ramp Renovations, San Antonio River Authority. The SARA requested nearly half a million dollars for renovation of two sets of boat ramps (a total of five lanes), access roads, parking areas, bulkheads, lighting, walkways and signs at Calaveras Lake southeast of San Antonio.
--$125,580 for Log Cabin City Park Boating Access, City of Log Cabin. The City of Log Cabin requested a grant for the renovation and expansion of a two-lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, access road, new restroom, entry station, fish-cleaning station, pavilion and signs at Cedar Creek Lake.
--$150,000 for City Park boating access improvements, City of Point Comfort. The City of Point Comfort requested a grant for construction of a new restroom, renovation of courtesy docks, and signs at a public boat ramp on Lavaca Bay.
--$166,390 for Boerne City Lake boating access, City of Boerne. The City of Boerne requested a grant for the construction of a new restroom, courtesy dock, surfacing of existing parking area and access road and signs. The facility provides public access to Boerne City Lake.
--$225,000 for Port Mansfield channel dredging, Willacy County Navigation District. The WCND requested a grant to help pay for dredging of the Port Mansfield Channel at the Gulf of Mexico jetties. The channel provides the only public boating access to the Gulf of Mexico between Corpus Christi and Port Isabel. The one-time project will dredge the mouth of the channel to a depth to serve recreational boaters, and future maintenance will be the responsibility of WCND or another entity.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/trpa/
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[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 30, 2006
Volunteers Sought for Crab Trap Clean-Up Feb. 17-26
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hoping to add to the pile of more than 18,000 crab traps hauled from Texas bays during the last four years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 5th annual Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from February 17-26.
Bays will be closed to commercial crabbing during this period, and any traps found will be presumed to be lost or abandoned.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year's cleanup and years past.
State game wardens pick up more than 2,500 traps annually, yet there are many more still in the water to foul shrimpers' nets, snag fishermen's lines and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
During the past four year's efforts, traps from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay accounted for more than 12,500 or 70 percent of the traps collected along the coast.
Before the 77th Legislature authorized the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap.
To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD will place dumpsters at various locations along the coast beginning Friday, Feb. 17, at 16 locations coast-wide. These dumpsters will be marked with banners and will sit at the drop off sites for the duration of the closure.
Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but cannot remove traps after Feb. 26. Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed more than 2,500 traps.
"This program has gained national reputation over the years for its conservation stewardship efforts, which would not have occurred had it not been for the magnificent resource conservation ethics that the public has about protecting Texas' bays and estuaries," said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. "We are working ourselves out of a job, which is a good thing, so we decided to scale back efforts a little bit this year. But we still have a high amount of interest in the program from sponsors and volunteers, and some areas on the coast could still use a little tidying up, especially in Galveston, Matagorda and San Antonio Bays."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Best Manufacturing and the Cecil M. Hopper Museum are providing significant support to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming numerous organizations and companies like Saltwater Anglers League of Texas and others who are volunteering their services.
Following is a site list of locations where traps can be dropped off from February 17-26. Disposal facilities will be maintained at each site for the duration of the cleanup, but each site will be unmanned.
For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that they collect. To participate, volunteers can pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at each of the following TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations.
Crab Trap Cleanup Collection Sites
Aransas Bay - Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Karen Meador (361) 729-2328
--Goose Island State Park - Rockport
--Conn Brown Harbor - Aransas Pass
Corpus Christi Bay -Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Paul Choucair (361) 729-2328
--Conn Brown Harbor - Aransas Pass
--South Nueces Boat Ramp -- Corpus Christi
Galveston Bay -1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Rebecca Hensley (281) 534-0108
--Trinity Bay - Fort Anahuac Park
--Galveston Bay/Jones Lake - Fat Boy's State Ramp off I-45
--East Bay - Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
--Chocolate Bayou Ramp FM 2004
Lower Laguna Madre -95 Fish Hatchery Road, Olmito, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Randy Blankinship (956) 350-4490
--Adolfe Thomae County Park-Arroyo City
--Port Mansfield Navigation District Ramp-Port Mansfield.
Matagorda Bay - 2200 Harrison, Palacios, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Bill Balboa (361) 972-6253
--Matagorda Harbor Boat Ramp -- Matagorda
--Mitchell's Cut Public Ramp -- Sargent
Sabine Lake - 601 Channel View, Port Arthur, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104
--Walter Umphrey State Park (Mesquite Point) on Pleasure Island-Port Arthur
San Antonio Bay - 16th and Maple, Port O'Connor, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425
--Charlie's Bait Stand - Seadrift
--Port O'Conner TPWD dock
Upper Laguna Madre - Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Natural Resources Center, 6300 Ocean Drive, Suite 2500, Corpus Christi, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Kyle Spiller (361) 825-3353
--Bluff Landing Marina -- Corpus Christi
--Kaufer Park Boat Ramp - Baffin Bay - Riviera Beach
To volunteer, or for more information, contact one of the regional coordinators: Art Morris in Corpus Christi at (361) 825-3356, or Bobby Miller in Dickinson at (281) 534-0110.
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[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 30, 2006
Flat Out Fishing Lake Jackson Goes to the Beach and Beyond
LAKE JACKSON, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will host a saltwater fishing seminar that takes a fresh look at fishing the near-shore Gulf of Mexico. The day-long seminar will feature presentations on fishing and boating from the shallow backwaters, beaches and jetties out into Texas' near-shore Gulf waters.
Kick-off is 8:00 a.m. Sat., Feb. 11, at the Lake Jackson Civic Center, at the intersection of Highway 332 and Oak.
Presentations will cover life history of the ugly, yet delicious tripletail, boating tips, jetty secrets, fly fishing, landing powerful kingfish and more.
"Flat Out Fishing - Lake Jackson will give fishermen a fresh, new look at fishing the totally accessible coastal waters just off our beaches and passes," said Bobby Miller, one of TPWD's Coastal Fisheries' Outreach Specialists. "Beginners to well-salted fishermen will increase their understanding of coastal fishing through the experiences relayed by TPWD biologists like Bill Balboa, outdoors enthusiasts like Larry Bozka, and expert fishing guides like Capt. Sally Moffett."
The program benefits the 5th Annual Abandoned Crab Trap Cleanup, Miller said, with all of the admission fees going to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation's abandoned crab trap removal program fund. That program has removed more than 18,000 abandoned crab traps from coastal waters since 2002.
The cost is $20 per person or $30 per couple, payable by cash, check or money order at the door. Registration fees are tax-deductible. Children 16 and younger may attend free with a paying adult. Participants will be eligible for door prizes and "goody bags." Seating is limited to the first 100 participants.
To register, contact Bobby Miller at 281-534-0110 or bobby.miller@tpwd.texas.gov .
Major sponsors of the event include Anheuser-Busch, CCA Texas and Saltwater Conservation Association Texas.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/exptexas/promos/fof/
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[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 30, 2006
Grayson County Game Warden Named 'Officer of Year'
AUSTIN, Texas -- Grayson County Game Warden Jim Ballard was presented the prestigious Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' 2005 "Officer of the Year" award before Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners Thursday.
Ballard, a 17-year veteran of TPWD's law enforcement division, has been stationed on Lake Texoma his entire career.
The award is given annually to one game warden in each of SEAFWA's 16 states and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Ballard said he was honored to be selected for the award, which is voted on by the state's regional and headquarters game warden commanders.
I love it," Ballard said of his job. "It's all I ever wanted to do, ever since I was a kid."
Growing up on a cotton farm in Haskell County, Ballard said, he had plenty of opportunities to hunt and fish as a youngster, but not much opportunity to actually get on the water.
"I didn't know how to drive a boat when they stationed me at Lake Texoma," he said. "Now, if it had been a John Deere tractor, I'd have known how to drive it."
Of course, after nearly two decades working on the 89,000-acre border lake, Ballard is intimately familiar with the operation of watercraft and coordinates a model Boating While Intoxicated prevention program in the area.
He also has investigated a number of high-profile poaching cases (Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, famed for its trophy deer, is in his patrol area), and on one memorable weekend took part in dispensing 967 citations to anglers taking advantage of a massive school of stripers below Lake Texoma's spillway.
"I've had a unique place to work my whole career," Ballard said. "I'm fortunate to have a lot of wildlife, and a lot of people too. You just get to see more."
Maj. Butch Shoop, Ballard's supervisor, agreed.
"He's had the benefit of a busy station," Shoop said. "But that's not a benefit if you haven't got a good work ethic. He has been at that busy station and he has adapted to whatever the department program has been important at the time."
Shoop said Ballard's strong suite is his people skills and cited the excellent relationship the TPWD officers have with other law enforcement agencies in the area as one example.
In his nomination of the game warden, Shoop also cited Ballard's involvement in the local community, where he organizes youth hunting and fishing programs, sponsors Future Farmers of America projects at local schools and organized cook teams for local fairs and 4-H contests.
"I cannot say enough good stuff about Jim," Shoop said. "There are a lot of good game wardens in my region and all across the state. But Jim's consistent effort throughout the years makes him shine a little bit."
Ballard said that doing the job he's had his heart set on since childhood has its own rewards.
"You want to think you've made a difference out there, and I think we have," he said. "Over the last few years we haven't had any serious boating accidents or fatalities."
Ballard was originally presented the award at the annual SEAFWA conference in St. Louis, Mo., in October, 2005.
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[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Todd Driscoll, (409) 384-9572 or todd.driscoll@tpwd.texas.gov; Dave Terre, (903) 566-1615 or dave.terre@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 30, 2006
Bass Anglers Invited To Meet With Fisheries Biologists
ATHENS, Texas-If you fish for black bass, fisheries biologists from throughout the southern United States want to hear from you.
The Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society will host a black bass management workshop featuring fisheries professionals and representatives of the angling community Feb. 10 during the annual meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society in San Antonio.
"Our goal is to bring anglers, biologists and fishing-related industry together to discuss important issues and to learn from each other," said Dave Terre of Tyler, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist who is also president of the Texas Chapter of the AFS. "We believe that successful fisheries management in the future will depend on the establishment of good cooperative work relationships and face-to-face communication about the issues."
Terre noted that fisheries biologists from throughout the South will present their findings on largemouth bass, the nation's most popular game fish. "We saw this as an opportunity to bring in our customers-anglers-and discuss some things that are important to all of us," Terre said.
Any interested person may attend the special workshop for a $20 fee without having to register for the rest of the conference.
"The overall goal of this workshop is to enhance black bass management techniques and improve fishing quality by increasing cooperative efforts of biologists and anglers," said Todd Driscoll of Jasper, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist and tournament angler.
Topics to be discussed at the workshop include habitat management, fishing regulations, the impact of tournaments, tournament-related mortality and the fisheries management process. Featured speakers include Chad Brauer, a competitor in the Bassmaster Elite Series and host of the Outdoor Channel's "Academy Outdoors," and Noreen Clough, Conservation Director for the Bass Angler Sportsman Society (BASS).
Representatives of Texas Black Bass Unlimited, the Louisiana BASS Federation and the Texas BASS Federation will discuss successful angler/conservation agency partnerships. A joint panel of fisheries professionals and anglers from Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma will conclude the day-long workshop with a discussion of ways to further cooperation in the future. Anglers will be invited to ask questions of the experts during the session.
The American Fisheries Society is the oldest and largest professional organization representing fisheries scientists and fisheries managers. The meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Antonio Feb. 9-12, 2006. The black bass management workshop is sponsored by the Southern Division, AFS; Texas BASS Federation; Texas Chapter, American Fisheries Society; BASS; and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
For information on the workshop, contact Tim Cook at (210) 414-3554 or mrbass@sanmarcos.net, Todd Driscoll at (409) 384-9572 or todd.driscoll@tpwd.texas.gov, or visit http://www.sdafs.org/meetings/2006/workshops.htm and www.texas-bass.com/cons. To register, call Paula Hawkins at (512) 389-4859, paula.hawkins@tpwd.texas.gov.
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