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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-06-01                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
June 1, 2007
Seguin Coliseum To Host Funeral for Game Warden Ty Patterson
AUSTIN, Texas -- Funeral and visitation services for Game Warden Teyran "Ty" Patterson will take place in Seguin Sunday and Monday, with more than 1,000 people expected to attend. A benefit fund has also been set up at a Seguin bank for donations to support the Patterson family.
Visitation will take place from noon-7 p.m. Sunday, June 3 at the Crenshaw Funeral Home, 216 Bloomberg Street in Seguin, where Patterson was born and raised, and where his parents still live.
On Monday, June 4, visitation will take place from 10-to-10:45 a.m. at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum, 950 South Austin Street. The funeral will follow here at 11 a.m. and is expected to last approximately two hours.
After the funeral, pall bearers will carry the casket into a waiting hearse, which will proceed from the coliseum to Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park cemetery at 2951 South State Highway 46 between Seguin and New Braunfels, where final honors and interment services will take place.
At the cemetery, the Game Warden Honor Guard from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will do the final honors, including a 21-gun salute, bagpipes, and bugled Taps. Pilots with the TPWD Law Enforcement Division and Texas Department of Public Safety will also conduct a flyover in state aircraft.
Patterson and his partner, Game Warden Danny Tuggle, were attempting to recover the body of a suspected drowning victim where the Paluxy River crosses FM 205 in Somervell County when their boat capsized in floodwaters at about 8:10 a.m. Wednesday. Patterson was transported to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, where he died Wednesday morning. Tuggle, a 25-year veteran game warden, suffered near-drowning injuries, but was treated and released from the hospital in good condition at noon Thursday.
Patterson was the second Texas game warden killed in the line of duty in less than three months. Game Warden Justin Hurst was shot and killed on March 17 during an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement officers and a suspected poacher.
Since 1919, 17 Texas game wardens have lost their lives in the line of duty, five by drowning.
Patterson earned his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University, and was a graduate of the 51st Texas Game Warden Academy in 2005. He was stationed in Johnson County. He is survived by his parents, Viann and Joe Patterson of Seguin, Texas.
Anyone who wishes to make donations to support the Patterson family may send a personal check made out to Ty Patterson Benefit Fund, Wells Fargo Bank, 101 East Nolte, Seguin, TX 78155. Donation checks can also be sent made out to Operation Game Thief (OGT), with Ty Patterson Memorial Fund noted on the check, to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744. To make donations by credit card, call OGT at (512) 389-4381. All donations made through OGT will be forwarded to the family.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [LS]
[ Additional Contacts: Lydia Saldaņa, (512) 389-4557, lydia.saldana@tpwd.texas.gov ]
June 1, 2007
Legislature Approves Additional Park Funding
AUSTIN, Texas -- The 80th Texas legislature has approved HB 1 and HB 12, which provide significant new funding for state parks. HB 1, the appropriations bill, and several related provisions in HB 12 will provide approximately $182 million in additional funding for state and local parks in the 2008-2009 biennium.
"All Texans owe a debt of thanks to our state elected leaders," said Joseph Fitzsimons, TPW Commission chairman. "Because of the unwavering support of Gov. Perry and our friends in the Texas Legislature, we are on the road to fulfilling a vision of great parks for a great state."
HB 12 was authored by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, who chairs the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee and tirelessly championed the bill. HB12 was sponsored by Sen. Craig Estes on the Senate side.
Instrumental in supporting the legislation in the closing days of the session were House Speaker Tom Craddick, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Kip Averitt, Rep. Carl Isett and many other legislators.
"It will be several days before we have a complete understanding of details in the appropriations bill and related legislation, but we are very, very pleased with the appropriations approved by the Texas Legislature," said Robert L. Cook, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "With the funding provided by our legislators we will be able to make great strides in providing adequate staffing, equipment, repairs and operating to significantly improve our state park system."
It will take some time to fully analyze this complicated legislation, which is why details are not immediately clear. Based on a review of the appropriations bill and the legislative conference committee report on HB 12, TPWD believes that the additional park funding provides:
--$25.6 million to operate state parks, including 229 additional FTE positions
--$8 million for state park minor repairs
--$9.7 million for state park capital equipment, such as vehicles and computers
--$3 million in additional support for state parks, including new architects and estimators in TPWD's Infrastructure Division to fulfill recommendations of the recent SAO state park audit.
--$44.1 million for major repairs to TPWD sites. Of the total, $17 million is Proposition 8 bond funding approved by Texas voters in 2001, and $27.1 million is a new bond issue that must first be approved by voters this coming November.
--$13.9 million in land acquisition funding. This includes $9.6 million from the sale of the Eagle Mountain Lake State Park property near Fort Worth. It also includes $4.3 million for acquisition of inholdings and properties adjacent to existing state parks.
--$36.3 million for local park grants to cities and counties. This restores full funding for local park grants to $15.5 million per year, plus the appropriations bill allocated an additional $16.7 million for specific park projects.
--$16 million in appropriation authority if TPWD implements SAO state park audit recommendations. This essentially allows the department to spend revenue it brings in above projected estimates from sources like state park entrance and camping fees.
--$25 million in a new bond issue to fund dry berthing and repairs for the Battleship TEXAS in La Porte, bonds which must first be approved by voters this coming November.
HB 12 transfers 18 state historic sites from TPWD to the Texas Historical Commission, and it earmarks 6 percent of state sales tax attributable to sporting goods to the THC. The bill also sets up a legislative task force to study sporting goods tax funding and make recommendations for the next session.
As HB 12 neared passage in conference committee last week, a number of other bills that affect TPWD were attached to it and are now all headed to the governor's desk for consideration as part of HB 12. These include HB 1309, relating to possession or transportation of certain snakes that are not indigenous to this country; HB 2001, relating to a program to control or eradicate nuisance aquatic vegetation; HB 2414, relating to hunting from public roads or rights-of-way; HB 3765, relating to the taking or unloading of fish in this state; SB 775, relating to an interim study concerning this state's hunting and fishing license systems; SB 1172 relating to the disposition of income at Palo Duro Canyon State Park; and SB 997, relating to the regulation of commercially operated party boats on public water of this state.
In another state park related action, SB 1659 passed, a bill relating to the transfer of the Texas State Railroad. SB 1659 will transfer railroad operations to a new railroad authority. The appropriations bill provides $2 million to serve as a match for a $10 million federal grant through the Texas Department of Transportation for railroad capital repairs and improvements.
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
June 1, 2007
One Year Later, Compliance 'Good' on Seagrass Regulation
ROCKPORT, Texas -- A year after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission made it illegal to uproot seagrasses with a submerged propeller within the boundaries of the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, local game wardens are calling compliance with the regulation "good."
The regulation -- which went into effect May 1, 2006 -- marked the first time the TPW Commission used its proclamation power to protect coastal habitat and require changes in boater behavior in the popular fishing destination near Rockport and Aransas Pass.
"Compliance has been fairly good. We've given about 50 verbal warnings and eight written warnings," said Maj. Larry Young, TPWD's regional law enforcement director for the lower coast. "We're still going to do our best to educate people first, especially the ones who are new to that area."
Violation of the regulation is a Class C misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $500.
Young said that the eight game wardens who routinely patrol the area have noticed that fewer boaters are accessing the flats in Redfish Bay.
"I think we still have some folks who are confused about what they can and cannot do out there," said TPWD Ecosystem Leader Karen Meador. "Anyone in any type of vessel can run anywhere within the scientific area; just don't uproot seagrasses or dig a prop scar."
Meador, the lead fisheries biologist for the Aransas Bay System, said her staff -- along with local game wardens -- have been busy over the past year educating the boating public about the new regulation and about the importance of seagrass conservation.
"We have had nearly 10,000 hits on our Web site and placed more than three dozen articles in local, statewide and national publications," she said. "We've distributed more than 30,000 brochures and made nearly four dozen presentations to civic and sportfishing organizations. My staff and I have personally talked about this regulation and the importance of seagrasses face-to-face with 3,645 boaters and anglers. It's been a huge effort this past year."
The education and outreach push followed a recommendation from the TPW Commission -- and multiple requests from user groups and boaters during last year's public hearing process -- to make sure the word got out about the regulation.
Redfish Bay, a shallow, highly productive body of water straddling the Aransas Bay and Corpus Christi Bay systems in the Coastal Bend, boasts the state's northernmost extensive stands of seagrasses. Anglers' success here has led to a surge in the area's popularity, and the fragile seagrass meadows -- which cover about a third of the 32,000-acre portion of the bay that has been designated a state scientific area -- are showing the effects.
"This area is number one for guided fishing trips, and receives the second highest pressure along the Texas coast for private boat anglers," said TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division biologist Faye Grubbs. "Visitors outnumber locals two to one."
In a study done in 2001, areas in the Estes Flats section of the bay showed evidence of extensive propeller scarring. These scars create trenches that destroy the seagrass, fragment habitat, channel tidal movement and sometimes take years to recover.
That can hurt the productive red drum and spotted seatrout fishery that draws so many anglers to the area.
"A seagrass meadow supplies everything that many marine organisms need. It provides food for grazing animals at the base of the food chain, surfaces to cling on for small crawling critters, shelter and hiding places for small invertebrates and fish, and ambush points for the larger predators and game fish," said Dennis Pridgen, another Coastal Fisheries Division biologist. "For them it's the nursery, the roof over their heads and the grocery store all rolled into one."
In a presentation to TPW commissioners May 24, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Regional Director Ed Hegen noted that many factors -- some natural and some caused by humans -- affect the health of seagrasses. These include storms and algal blooms (natural) and dredging, excessive nutrients in runoff, shoreline development and recreational boating (human induced).
"We're concerned about all of the factors that affect the health of our coastal ecosystems, and in particular seagrasses," Hegen said. "Things like nutrient loading, shoreline development and sedimentation caused by dredging require a long-term approach and cooperation between numerous local, state and federal government entities as well as the private sector. Our commissioners addressed one factor we could immediately affect."
Boundary markers and boat ramp signs explaining the regulation went up early last year, as did markers for a first preferred-access lane, or PAL, in the popular Estes Flats area. This spring Coastal Fisheries staff surveyed and installed a second PAL in the Terminal Flats area near Hog Island.
"What we're trying to do is really get boaters to think about what they're doing out in the water," Grubbs said. "The responsibility is on the boater to know the area he's fishing in, and also to protect and preserve the habitat that supports the fish that he's fishing for."
A survey of boaters who use the area was recently completed, and will be used as a baseline to determine how attitudes about seagrass and boating behavior in the RBSSA change over time. Biologists also acquired high resolution aerial imagery this spring which will be used to evaluate the current extent of propeller scarring. Potentially this imagery could be compared to imagery taken in the future to detect changes in scarring.
A separate study involves in situ scar counts along transects in RBSSA to determine the extent of propeller scarring. Overall, results from each of these assessment tools will be used to determine the effectiveness of the regulation. Biologists will continue to monitor the situation over the next several years. The regulation will be reviewed by the TPW Commission in 2010.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/seagrass/
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[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
June 1, 2007
State Fish of Texas Stocked on Guadalupe River
INGRAM, Texas -- Ongoing efforts by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to restore the State Fish of Texas to its status as reigning native fish of Texas Hill Country waters took a major step with the recent stocking of tens of thousands of Guadalupe bass fingerlings.
Close to 100,000 fingerlings of the feisty sport fish (Micropterus treculii) obtained from TPWD's Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Ingram and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service hatchery in Uvalde were released into the upper reaches of the Guadalupe River in western Kerr County last week. The stocking effort to save the Texas State Fish is part of a five-year Guadalupe Bass Restoration Initiative being undertaken by TPWD and the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, with support from the Hill Country Fly Fishers and other partners.
"A healthy population of Guadalupe bass not only provides a recreational resource for anglers, but also emphasizes the quality of the rivers and streams in which it lives," said Gary Garrett, Ph.D., who heads up the project at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center. "This project will assure the Guadalupe bass's survival in the Guadalupe, and raise awareness of the unique value of this valuable natural resource."
Designated by Texas lawmakers in 1989 as the State Fish of Texas, the Guadalupe bass is native to the streams of the Guadalupe, San Antonio, Colorado and Brazos river systems.
For the past 15 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been reintroducing the Guadalupe bass to Hill Country streams feeding into the Guadalupe River in an effort to overcome non-native smallmouth bass populations with which the state fish has hybridized. Genetic contamination is one of the factors that have led to the decline of Guadalupe bass.
Research efforts to restore the Guadalupe bass in Johnson Creek have reduced the number of hybrids from 30 percent to 3 percent, according to Garrett. Last year, TPWD expanded the research program throughout the Guadalupe River headwaters, adding 58,000 fingerlings.
The recent stocking at Schumacher's Crossing on the Guadalupe River near Hunt is part of a five-year initiative with the goal of stocking 225,000 pure-strain Guadalupe bass fingerlings each year. The Upper Guadalupe River Authority is seeking to secure funds to support the effort to stock the native sport fish.
For more information about the Guadalupe bass restoration project, contact Gary Garrett at Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Ingram at (830) 866-3356, ext. 212.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/research/inland/
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