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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-01-22                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than five 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]
Jan. 22, 2009
Choke Canyon Gives Up Seventh ShareLunker
15.45-pound bass is also new lake record
ATHENS, Texas--Brad Bookmyer of Leander had his fishing trip cut short January 21, but he was happy about it. After hooking two fish so big he could not turn them and keep them from getting off the hook, he landed a 15.45-pound largemouth bass that was 22 inches in girth and 26.25 inches long.
The fish is the seventh ShareLunker to come from Choke Canyon and weighs nearly a pound more than the previous lake record, a 14.66-pounder caught in 1991.
Bookmyer was fishing in 10 feet of 53-degree water when the fish took a crankbait. "I immediately quit fishing to get the fish into the minnow tank at the Calliham Store as soon as possible," Bookmyer said.
The fish is the third to be entered into the ShareLunker program during the current season, which runs through April 30. Anyone legally catching a largemouth bass in Texas waters, public or private, weighing 13 pounds or more can enter the fish into the program by calling program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or by paging him at (888) 784-0600 and leaving an area code and phone number.
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[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 22, 2009
$2.9 Million in Boat Ramp Grants Approved by TPW Commission
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved $2,922,255 to fund 13 boat ramp repair and renovation projects around the state. A total of 16 boat ramp grant applications requesting a total of $4,914,244 in matching funds were received.
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. Fifteen percent of the state's annual apportionment from the federal Wallop-Breaux Program must be used to provide public access for motor boating facilities. Construction for approved projects is supported on a 75 percent (federal), 25 percent (local).
Based on project review and analyses, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff recommended focusing available funding toward project elements that directly address public boating access improvements. Funding for support facilities such as pavilions and restrooms was not recommended at Wednesday's meeting. As a result, 13 of 16 submitted projects are recommended for funding though most projects are awarded fewer grant funds than requested. Three projects are not recommended for funding at this time and will be held over for future funding cycles. The projects have been ranked in descending order of priority.
All facilities will be operated and maintained by the local government sponsors.
City of Aransas Pass
The City of Aransas Pass requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $334,500 to improve and expand a two-lane boat ramp by adding another two-lane ramp, expanding the courtesy dock, improving the parking area, constructing a pavilion, and adding new lighting and signing. The facility provides public boating access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Redfish Bay. Funding to support construction of the pavilion was not recommended at this time. The commission approved matching funds in the amount of $267,750.
City of Corpus Christi
The City of Corpus Christi requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $500,000 to renovate/improve a two-lane boat ramp known as Billing's Boat Ramp, improve an access road, the parking area, utilities, a courtesy dock, bulkhead and signs. The facility provides public boating access to Laguna Madre and the Intracoastal Waterway. The Commission approved $500,000 in matching funds.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
TPWD's State Parks Division requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $78,750 to improve two one-lane boat ramps, new courtesy docks, dredging and signs. The facility provides public boating access to Fairfield Lake. The Commission approved $78,750 in matching funds.
Brazos River Authority
The Brazos River Authority requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $82,500 for renovation of two boat ramps and bulkheads, new courtesy docks, lighting and signs. The facility provides public boating access to Possum Kingdom Lake. The Commission approved $82,500 in matching funds.
Somervell County Water District
The Somervell County Water District requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $450,000 to construct a new two-lane boat ramp, courtesy docks, restroom, fish cleaning station, parking area, access drive, bulkheads and dredging on newly-constructed Wheeler Branch Reservoir near the City of Glen Rose. Funding to construct a restroom and fish cleaning station at the site was not recommended. The Commission approved $363,750 in matching funds.
City of Austin
The City of Austin requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $157,500 for renovation of a four-lane boat ramp and restroom, parking lot, and construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant walkway. The facility provides public boating access to Lake Walter E. Long. Funding to renovate a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $99,000 in matching funds.
City of Abilene
The City of Abilene requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $499,875 for renovation of boat ramps, a new restroom, a wave attenuator, a fish cleaning station, picnic tables, utilities, signs, and to resurface a parking lot. The facility provides public boating access to Lake Fort Phantom Hill. Funding to construct a restroom and fish cleaning station at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $331,884 in matching funds.
Brazoria County
Brazoria County requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $27,900 to repair three separate boat ramps, along with courtesy docks, bulkheads, and erosion control. The three public ramps are located on the San Bernard River, Chocolate Bayou and Hall's Bayou. The facilities were damaged during storm surges in the 2008 hurricane season. The Commission approved $27,900 in matching funds.
City of Brady
The City of Brady requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $348,645 for construction of a new restroom and repairs to the marina, boat ramp and courtesy dock. The facility provides public boating access to Lake Brady. Funding to construct a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time, and grant funding for marina facilities is not eligible under federal guidelines. The commission approved $54,600 in matching funds.
City of Cottonwood Shores
The City of Cottonwood Shores requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $180,000 for construction of a new boat ramp, parking area, access road, restroom, courtesy docks, landscaping, lighting and signs. The facility provides public boating access to Lake Marble Falls. Funding to construct a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $142,170 in matching funds.
Muenster Water District
The Muenster Water District requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $472,717 for construction of a new two-lane boat ramp, parking lot, access road, restroom, courtesy dock, and signs. Funding to construct a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $443,880 in matching funds.
City of Lake Dallas
The City of Lake Dallas requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $500,000 for construction of a new boat ramp, parking lot, access road, a restroom, walkways, lighting and signs. Funding to construct a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $258,772 in matching funds.
City of Grapevine
The City of Grapevine requested a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $500,000 for construction of a new two-lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, access drive, restroom and walkways. The facility will provide public boating access to Lake Grapevine. Funding to construct a restroom at the site was not recommended at this time. The Commission approved $271,299 in matching funds.
---
On the Net:
TPWD grant programs: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 22, 2009
Flounder, Paddle Craft Guides and Consistency with Fed Regs Top Coastal Fisheries Issues at TPW Commission Hearing
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners Wednesday approved several proposed changes to saltwater fishing regulations recommended by TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division staff. The changes include new regulations dealing with flounder, federal consistency issues for sharks and other species, and a paddle craft licensing and training program. Scoping of these issues has been ongoing since the fall of 2008.
The Coastal Fisheries Division proposals are part of statewide proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes for the upcoming 2009-2010 season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has set a record 46 public hearings across the state in February and March to explain the proposals and seek public input. Hearing dates and locations are on the 2009 TPWD Statewide Public Hearings Web page. After the regulations proposals are published in the Texas Register in early February, anyone may also comment online via the TPWD Opportunities for Comment Web page. The TPW Commission will make final decisions about proposed regulations at its March 25-26 meeting in Austin.
Details about the possible regulation changes can be found below, and TPWD invites the public to weigh in on these possible proposals by clicking the public comments section on the TPWD home page.
Flounder -- As briefed at the August Commission meeting Coastal Fisheries biologists believe that long-term downward trends in the southern flounder fishery warrant consideration of proposed regulations that will reverse the downward trend in abundance. The proposal approved by the Commission for publication in the Texas Register includes a statewide closure for the month of November. Additionally, the proposal would change bag limits to five fish for recreational anglers and 30 fish for commercial anglers. Possession limits for flounder are the same as bag limits.
Federal Consistency - Coastal Fisheries staff continue to look at several species managed jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to become more consistent in terms of bag and size limits.
Sharks -- Specifically, this item will change the minimum length limit for those species allowed from 24 inches total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose, blacktip, and bonnethead sharks which will retain the current 24 inch TL minimum length limit. For the allowable shark species the bag limit will remain one fish per person per day and a two fish possession limit. In addition a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following shark species:
--Atlantic angel, Squatina dumerili
--Basking, Cetorhinus maximus
--Bigeye sand tiger, Odontaspis noronhai
--Bigeye sixgill, Hexanchus vitulus
--Bigeye thresher, Alopias superciliosus
--Bignose, Carcharhinus altimus
--Caribbean reef, Carcharhinus perezi
--Caribbean sharpnose, Rhizoprionodon porosus
--Dusky, Carcharhinus obscurus
--Galapagos, Carcharhinus galapagensis
--Longfin mako, Isurus paucus
--Narrowtooth, Carcharhinus brachyurus
--Night, Carcharhinus signatus
--Sandbar, Carcharhinus plumbeus
--Sand tiger, Odontaspis taurus
--Sevengill, Heptranchias perlo
--Silky, Carcharhinus falciformis
--Sixgill, Hexanchus griseus
--Smalltail, Carcharhinus porosus
--Whale, Rhincodon typus
--White, Carcharodon carcharias
Other Species -- The proposed amendments include species that have been found to be in an overfished condition or undergoing overfishing. The proposed changes include: increasing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34 inches TL, and establishing minimum size limits of 14 inches for gray triggerfish and 22 inches for gag. The bag limit for gray triggerfish would be 20 per person and for gag grouper it would be set at 2 per person with the possession limits being twice the daily bag limit.
Paddle Craft Licensing -- A proposal to consider a change that would allow paddle craft operators to receive a saltwater guide license by establishing a different set of requirements other than a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel license. The USCG license current requirements may fail to address the unique safety issues associated with paddle craft and also may be restricting the licensing of paddle craft guides due to the "sea time" requirement. The proposal will create a paddle craft guide license and in order to receive the license the guide will have to show certification or proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course and CPR/First Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association "Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring" and "Coastal Kayak Trip Leading" courses or British Canoe Union "Three Star Sea Kayak" and "Four Star Leader Sea Kayak" courses.
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 22, 2009
TPW Commission Approves Proposed Changes in Size, Bag Limits on Some Lakes
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee Wednesday approved the publication in the Texas Register of a number of proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations. The proposals will be presented for public comment at a series of public hearings around the state this spring, and a final decision will be made by the Commission at its March 25-26 public meeting.
Details about the possible regulation changes can be found below, and TPWD invites the public to weigh in on these possible proposals by clicking the public comments section on the TPWD home page.
Blue Catfish -- Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County)
Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Proposed changes would consist of a 25 fish daily bag limit with a 30 to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches would be allowed.
Largemouth Bass -- Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties)
Harvest regulations for largemouth bass are currently a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and a five fish daily bag (only one bass 24 inches or greater may be retained each day). Proposed changes would make Lake Ray Roberts consistent with the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).
Alligator Gar -- Statewide
Change harvest regulations for alligator gar from no length or daily bag limits to a one fish per day bag limit. Daily bag limit would apply to both recreational and commercial fishing.
Lake Texoma -- Cooke and Grayson Counties
Alligator gar -- Change daily bag limit from no limit to one alligator gar per day. Also institute a harvest closure in May to protect spawning adults in a portion of the lake that is within the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and a portion of the lake upstream of the U.S. Highway 377 bridge to the Interstate Highway 35 bridge.
Blue and channel catfish -- Change harvest regulations for blue channel catfish from a 15 per day bag limit to a 15 per day bag limit of which only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater may be harvested per day.
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On the Net:
Statewide public hearing schedule: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR]
Jan. 22, 2009
Boerne Game Warden SEAFWA Officer of the Year
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Game Warden Vance Wallace was recognized as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies "Officer of the Year" today.
Wallace, a Garland native, is currently stationed in Boerne. Previous duty stations have included Grapevine in Tarrant County and Baird in Callahan County.
The recognition of Wallace marks the 39th time the award has been presented to a deserving Texas game warden.
Wallace graduated from the 41st Texas Game Warden Academy Dec. 22, 1988. In Tarrant County, Wallace and his partners were among the first to enforce the newly enacted Boating While Intoxicated laws. Before long, BWI patrols were commonplace during peak times of water safety enforcement. During hunting seasons, Wallace worked the mechanical decoy deer operation extensively with other game wardens in the county and district experiencing much success in those early years.
After his transfer to Callahan County in September, 1993, Wallace was very active in his community and church and served as a 4-H shooting sports coach. An annual youth deer hunt first organized by Wallace and the Callahan County sheriff is still going strong today.
Also while in Callahan County, Wallace was recognized as the 2002 Texas Officer of the Year for the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers.
Since September, 2003, Wallace has worked in Kendall County. There he is a constant presence on the local lake and rivers with his patrol by kayak. He spends considerable time with youth programs and educating the community through interaction and enforcement. During the 2007-2008 hunting season, a local ranch manager reported a possible case of hunting without landowner consent. Working with the local landowner, surveillance was initiated by Wallace and his partner that began the day before Thanksgiving and concluded the end of hunting season.
During the investigation, it was discovered that a multitude of individuals were hunting the land upon the invitation of an individual that had been hired to perform work on the ranch. During the course of this investigation, Wallace purchased, at his personal expense, a concealable game camera and a digital camera with a telephoto lens to assist in the documentation of the violations. Wallace and his partner invested literally hundreds of hours in this investigation. The completion of the case resulted in the presentation to the respective prosecutors: five felony hunt without landowner consent charges; 38 Class A misdemeanor hunt without landowner consent; three Class C misdemeanor fishing violations; one Class C misdemeanor deer tagging violation; and three warnings for license harvest log violations. When the final report was prepared and presented, the prosecutor stated it was one was one of the most detailed and complete reports ever received in prosecutor's office.
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[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
Jan. 22, 2009
$4.3 Million in Local Grants Okayed by TPW Commission
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved $4.3 million in competitive grants for community parks, nature trails and recreation centers throughout the state. Nine projects from among 37 eligible applications submitted for recreation grant matching funds were selected by commissioners for funding.
The $1.4 million in matching funds for local indoor recreation grants was made possible by the Legislature's restoration of appropriations for the 2008-2009 biennium. The money comes from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA) program funded by a dedication of a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods that took effect Sept. 1, 1993.
Weslaco received the largest of three matching grants awarded, $567,890, for a Boys and Girls Club Indoor Recreation Center. The City of Weslaco will use the grant monies to develop a 22,000 square-foot Boys and Girls Club located in the northeast area of the city. The club will include a gymnasium, classrooms, meeting room, locker room, restroom, kitchen, storage, offices, utilities and parking.
Brownwood was awarded $500,000 for a recreation center. The City of Brownwood plans to renovate the Coliseum Annex building into a senior/recreation center located in the central area of the city. It will include a large meeting room, game room, media room, office, commercial kitchen, utilities, parking, and Xeriscape landscaping with drip irrigation.
The Valley community of Combes will receive $327,110 in indoor recreation matching funds to construct a 3,320 square-foot recreation center to be located in the southwest part of town in Community Park. The development phase of the recreation center project includes a weight room, exercise room, arts/crafts room, game table room, reading room, multi-use rooms, aerobics room, and game/social room.
TPW commissioners also approved $2.9 million in outdoor recreation grants to help fund six of the 26 eligible projects submitted to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff for consideration. The grants are funded through the TRPA and Land and Water Conservation Fund to local Texas governments to acquire or develop outdoor recreation sites.
Two Hays County projects were awarded $500,000 each in outdoor recreation grants to fund park and nature preserve projects.
The City of Dripping Springs will use the half-million dollars in matching funds to acquire 48.165 acres by acquisition/donation and develop Harrison Ranch Park located in the far north area of the city. The grant will help fund tent camping, trails, a disc golf course, picnic tables, horseshoes and washer courts, playground, open play area, pavilion, eight acres of dedicated natural open space, and signs.
The City of Kyle will use the outdoor grant to acquire 167 acres and develop the Plum Creek Preserve & Nature Trail, located off Lehman Road and RR 150, in the southeast area of the city. Development will include nature and walking trails, playground, open play area, picnic tables, benches, shade pavilion, horseshoe and washer pits, fishing nooks, a scenic overlook, wildflower and wetland plantings, and interpretive signs.
In Burnet County, the City of Cottonwood Shores received a grant to develop Cottonwood Park on Lake Marble Falls on 13.2 donated acres that will be composed of nine recreation areas linked together with by a 2.8-mile trail. Grant monies will pay for pool renovation, a bathhouse, playground and pavilion, a treescape with climbing nets, tree house, skating rink and cleanup and preservation of an 11-acre natural area. There also will be a playground, water garden with seating, skate park including dirt trail for bikes and basketball goal, memorial garden, picnic tables, sand volleyball court, pavilions, open play area, horseshoe and washer pits, jetty for swimming, canoe launch, and exercise equipment.
The City of Laredo in Webb County was awarded a $499,981 grant to develop Independence Hills Park on 78 acres on donated property south of U.S. Highway 359 in the southeast portion of the city. The grant will help the city with acquisition of 15.38 acres and development of a trail, multi-purpose fields, baseball field, softball field, and basketball court, splash park, amphitheater, botanical garden, pavilions, picnic tables, playground and skate park. Thirty-six acres will be preserved as open space.
Also approved for $500,000 in matching funds were outdoor projects in Jones and Joshua counties.
In Jones County, the City of Abilene will receive grant funds to dedicate 5 acres of wetlands and further develop 35-acre Johnson Park and 115-acre SeaBee Park located on Lake Fort Phantom Hill north of the city. Development will include pavilions, amphitheater/outdoor educational facility, nature trails, sand volleyball court, disc golf course, open play area, picnic tables with grills (some shaded), interpretive signs, interpretive playground, benches, wildlife observation station, non-motorized boating access, marked lake trail, fishing pier, and landscaping.
The City of Joshua in Johnson County was awarded a grant to acquire by purchase and donation 19.35 acres to develop its first city park at the corner of Main Street and Shelby Lane in the north-central part of the city. The park will include a trail, playground, -acre pond with fishing pier, two acres of open space, pavilion, sports practice area, baseball field, picnic tables, and native plantings.
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On the Net:
TPWD grant programs: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
Jan. 22, 2009
Sweeping Texas Deer Regulation Changes Proposed, Public Hearing Dates Set
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Jan. 21 authorized the department to seek public comment on a suite of proposed wildlife and hunting related regulations that would expand special buck antler restrictions and liberalize antlerless harvest opportunities in dozens of counties, part of a broader move to transition away from political boundaries and toward biologically-based communities for managing deer populations.
Also, after extensive public scoping, the department has dropped consideration of a general gun deer season in Grayson County, opted to keep the current pheasant season in the Panhandle, and proposed the first ever deer season in Parmer County. The commission also decided not to expand youth hunting season throughout October, but did propose 12 new youth hunting days in January, among other items detailed below.
The deer proposals are part of statewide proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes for the upcoming 2009-2010 season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has set a record 46 public hearings across the state in February and March to explain the proposals and seek public input. Hearing dates and locations are on the 2009 TPWD Statewide Public Hearings Web page. After the regulations proposals are published in the Texas Register in early February, anyone may also comment online via the TPWD Opportunities for Comment Web page. The TPW Commission will make final decisions about proposed regulations at its March 25-26 meeting in Austin.
In proposing a more science-based approach to deer management, the department has identified 33 unique Resource Management Units (RMUs) across the state having similar soils, vegetation types and land use practices they believe will more accurately capture deer population dynamics. The intent is to develop deer season bag limit frameworks based on these units, although implementation will still track county boundaries to avoid confusion among hunters.
In briefings to the TPW Commission's Regulations Committee Jan. 21, the department Wildlife Division staff unveiled an extensive suite of potential regulation changes in deer harvest throughout much of the state, as well other wildlife proposals. The proposals are substantially similar to early ideas described last fall, with three significant changes involving youth-only hunting seasons, the archery-only season in Grayson County, and a new mule deer season for Parmer County, as detailed below.
Expansion of Antler Restriction Regulations
One key proposed change involves further expansion of the department's successful antler restriction regulations into 52 additional counties where biologists have identified a need to provide greater protection of younger buck deer. In these counties, data indicates more than 55 percent of the harvested bucks are two-and-a-half years of age or younger, which creates an imbalance in the deer herd age structure.
According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, the antler restrictions have improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect.
Proposed affected counties include: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.
Bag Limit Changes
The department is also proposing to increase the bag limit from one buck to two bucks in Baylor, Callahan, Haskell, Jones, Knox, Shackelford, Taylor, Throckmorton, and Wilbarger counties. Wolf noted this area of the state is characterized by relatively large tract sizes and light hunter density and deer numbers have grown over the years as habitat has become more favorable to white-tailed deer.
In addition, the department proposes to increase the bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans-Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer. This change would increase hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern.
The department also proposes to increase the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). Counties affected include: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.
Another proposed change would increase the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Although white-tailed deer densities are highly variable in this part of the state, areas containing suitable habitat have become saturated with deer and whitetails are expanding into marginal to poor habitat. Browsing pressure is severe in these areas, where little woody vegetation exists within five feet of the ground. The proposal would provide additional hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern.
Counties affected include: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.
The department is also proposing for the first time a general open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless).
Another issue where deer surveys indicate a need for change involves additional antlerless deer harvest opportunities. Therefore, the department proposes to increase antlerless deer hunting or "doe days" in the following areas:
--from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties;
--from 30 days to full-season either-sex in Cooke, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties;
--from four days to16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties;
--from four days to 30 days in Cherokee and Houston counties;
--from no doe days to four doe days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties.
This proposal offers more hunting opportunity as well as making "doe days' more consistent within each resource management unit (a suite of counties with similar population and habitat characteristics). Data indicate that the deer populations can withstand the additional harvest pressure proposed.
The department also proposes to expand the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected include: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the proposed season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.
Biologists are also proposing a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthening the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and altering the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season.
Counties affected include: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.
In response to a commission directive to seek additional youth hunting opportunities, last fall the department began looking at extending the early youth only season to include the entire month of October and the late youth-only season by 12 days during January in selected counties to run concurrently with late antlerless and spike seasons. The intent of the idea was to allow adults and children to hunt together during different special seasons.
The October youth-only proposal generated significant opposition, especially from bowhunters, who are currently able to hunt that month before gun season starts. Department leaders and staff met with the Lone Star Bowhunters Association in December and the group articulated several persuasive points. First, they pointed out that days of opportunity are not the primary bottleneck limiting youth hunting; bigger factors include a need for more mentors to take young people hunting and a need for increased hunter access to public and private land. They expressed strong support for increased youth hunting opportunity, and pointed out that bowhunting is one of few hunting segments that is growing, saying the sport has grown from about 70,000 to more than 100,000 bowhunters in Texas over the past l5-to-20 years. They said the current archery season before gun season functions as recruitment tool to get people into bowhunting during a quieter and less crowded time, and they pointed to growing Archery in the Schools programs nationally and in Texas as feeder programs that could further increase bowhunting's popularity.
For all of these reasons, TPWD will not propose making all of October part of youth-only deer season. Instead, commissioners directed the staff to seek public comments on a proposal to add one additional weekend and 10 additional weekdays in January to the current youth-only season. For next season, that would add Jan. 4-15, 2010 as additional youth-only days. Currently, the only January dates in the existing youth-only season are the third weekend.
The department had also been considering a petition to implement a general open season (with antlerless harvest by permit only) in Grayson County, where currently archery is the only legal hunting means. The petition provided impetus to explore something TPWD staff had already been considering-a more science-based approach consistent with deer management by Resource Management Units in surrounding counties.
However, after extensive discussion with stakeholders, including a special public meeting held Jan. 8 near Sherman, the department received overwhelming public opposition to allowing gun hunting in Grayson County. The public input process did yield substantial benefits, including improved relationships with local hunter groups and elected officials, who offered to assist TPWD. As are result, gun hunting is not being proposed for the county. Instead, the department is proposing new archery regulations and a new collaborative project to collect better data for future deer management.
Current deer regulations in Grayson County allow archery-only harvest of one buck, two antlerless deer, and four "doe-days" per hunter. The proposal is for TPWD staff to coordinate a volunteer data collection effort to collect harvest data at a county scale. It would keep archery-only hunting, but would change harvest regulations to a two buck bag limit with antler restrictions, and antlerless hunting by permit only.
The department is also proposing a one buck only, anterless by permit, nine-day mule deer season for Parmer County, the first ever deer season for that county. This proposal was discussed last fall, but held until the latest mule deer survey data for the county became available this month.
Game Bird Issues
The department is proposing a temporary, indefinite suspension of the current lesser prairie chicken two-day season in October until population recovery supports a resumption of hunting. TPWD biologists are involved in various actions to recover the bird, which is a candidate for threatened species listing. Conservation efforts include an interstate working group and steps to restore and protect habitat on public and private land, since habitat is the primary key for the species to recover.
Regarding pheasant season, the department had been scoping an idea to move the pheasant season up a week, so that it would open the Friday after Thanksgiving and run for 30 consecutive days. However, because of strong opposition from Panhandle communities, that idea has been dropped from proposed regulations changes.
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On the Net:
Public Hearing Calendar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings
Online Public Comment Page: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment
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