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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-08-25                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
Commission Adopts Revisions to Aerial Management Permit
AUSTIN - Effective Sept. 1, qualified individuals can pay to take depredating feral hogs or coyotes from a helicopter under rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The commission at its Thursday, Aug. 25 public meeting approved permit requirements for implementation of HB-716 passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature. The new law is aimed at helping manage feral hogs or coyotes by allowing qualified landowners or their agents to participate in management of feral hogs or coyotes from a helicopter. Previously, a person was prohibited from paying, bartering or exchanging anything of value to participate as a gunner or observer from an aircraft.
About 130 helicopter operations are currently permitted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct aerial management of depredating feral hogs or coyotes. The new rules permit qualified landowners or their qualified agents to pay these helicopter operators to participate in aerial operations.
To qualify, landowners or landowner agents must have on file with TPWD a completed Landowner's Authorization to Manage Wildlife or Exotic Animals by Aircraft (LOA) form. There is no application fee to become qualified, but the LOA does not take effect until TPWD issues an authorization number.
Individuals convicted of a federal Lacey Act violation, or a Parks and Wildlife Code Class A misdemeanor or felony, are prohibited from obtaining an aerial management permit, and from being a gunner, observer or pilot under an aerial management permit.
Feral hog populations in Texas are estimated at upwards of 2 million. According to a Texas Department of Agriculture study, each hog is responsible for $50-500 in damage to agriculture and wildlife habitat annually.
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
TPWD Sets Waterfowl Seasons for 2011-12
AUSTIN - The 2011-12 Texas late season migratory regulations in place, it's now up to Mother Nature to set the stage.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission finalized this year's waterfowl seasons at its Aug. 25 public hearing as Texas entered uncharted territory for most days with 100 degree plus temperatures.
Any rainfall prior to the Nov. 5 waterfowl season opener would be a welcome sight for an anticipated banner migration of ducks.
Following is a summary of the Texas late season migratory framework for 2011-12. An early season for teal statewide, and for Canada geese in the eastern goose zone, runs Sept. 10-25 with a daily bag limit of four teal and three geese.
Ducks
High Plains Mallard Management Unit
All species other than "dusky ducks": Oct. 29-30, 2011 and Nov. 4, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012; "Dusky ducks": Nov. 7, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012; Youth-only Season: Oct. 22-23, 2011
North Zone
All species other than "dusky ducks": Nov. 5 - 27, 2011 and Dec. 10, 2011 -- Jan. 29, 2012; "Dusky ducks": Nov. 10 - 27, 2011 and Dec. 10, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012; Youth-only Season: Oct. 29-30, 2011
South Zone
All species other than "dusky ducks": Nov. 5 - 27, 2011 and Dec. 10, 2011 -- Jan. 29, 2012; "Dusky ducks": Nov. 10 - 27 and Dec. 10, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012; Youth-only Season: Oct. 29-30, 2011
The daily bag limit for ducks is six, to include no more than five mallards of which only 2 may be hens; three wood ducks; two scaup; two redheads; two pintails; one canvasback; and one "dusky" duck. Dusky ducks include: mottled ducks, Mexican-like duck, black duck and their hybrids. For all other species not listed, the bag limit is six. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than two hooded mergansers.
Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Geese
Western Zone
Light geese: Nov. 5, 2011 - Feb. 5, 2012, daily bag limit is 20 and no possession limit.
Dark geese: Nov. 5, 2011 - Feb. 5, 2012, daily bag limit is five in the aggregate to include no more than one white-fronted goose
Eastern Zone
Light geese: Nov. 5, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012, the daily bag limit for light geese is 20 and no possession limit.
White-fronted geese: Nov. 5, 2011 - Jan. 15, 2012, daily bag limit is two;
Canada geese: Sept. 10-25, 2011 and Nov. 5, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012, daily bag limit is three.
Light Goose Conservation Order
Eastern Zone
Jan. 30 -- Mar. 25, 2012, no bag or possession limits.
Western Zone
Feb. 6 -- Mar. 25, 2012, no bag or possession limits.
Sandhill Crane
Zone A
Nov. 5, 2011 -- Feb. 5, 2012, daily bag limit is three and possession limit is six.
Zone B
Nov. 25, 2011 -- Feb. 5, 2012, daily bag limit is three and possession limit is six.
Zone C
Dec. 24, 2011 -- Jan. 29, 2012, daily bag limit is two and possession limit is four.
Extended Falconry Season
Ducks, coots, and mergansers:
High Plains Mallard Management Unit: no extended season.
North Duck Zone
Jan. 30 -- Feb. 13, 2012
South Duck Zone
Jan. 30 -- Feb. 13, 2012
For all zones the daily bag limit is three and possession limit is six.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 25, 2011
Game Warden named Officer of the Year
AUSTIN -- Chris Bird, a state game warden based in Wharton County, has been named Officer of the Year by the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers.
Begun 66 years ago, the association is the oldest conservation law enforcement organization in the nation. It is made up of 29 member agencies from the United States and Canada, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division has been a member since 1995.
A game warden for six years, Bird has been stationed in Wharton County all of that time. TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith presented Bird the award at the Aug. 25 meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
"Warden Bird has consistently demonstrated a very strong degree of professionalism and dedication to mission, continually excelling in the high standards we expect from all our officers," Smith said. "He is the epitome of what we hope the public envisions a Texas game warden."
Smith noted that Bird has become a core member of the warden team that works the four counties in his district, setting an excellent example of teamwork, investigative skills, work ethic and attitude."One of warden Bird's strongest attributes is his passion for community service and his commitment to TPWD's public outreach mission," Smith continued. "In addition to the excellent working relationships he maintains with landowners and other constituents in his assigned patrol area, he also organizes or participates in several annual Operation Outdoors and educational programs."Among the events Bird has been involved with are the "Hunt for Heroes" and "Wounded Warriors Weekend," which are hunts and fishing trips for disabled or wounded military personnel; the Wharton County Youth Hunt; the Wharton Boys and Girls Club Kidfish; the Victoria Boulevard Lion's Club Kidfish; and the Wharton County Youth Hunter Education program.
"Warden Bird has dedicated himself to not only fulfilling his duties as a game warden in his assigned area," Smith said, "but to also fill a void left in the Wharton County community after Game Warden Justin Hurst was killed in the line of duty in 2007. As a cadet in the Game Warden Training Academy at the time, Chris…requested assignment to Wharton County. Newly commissioned Game Warden Bird reported for duty and immediately went about building a reputation similar to his predecessor, but in his own right, as 'their game warden.'"
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
Texas Parks and Wildlife Eyes Potential State Park in North Texas
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Nature Conservancy have identified a property in Palo Pinto and Stephens Counties near the town of Strawn as a potential site for a new state park.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its meeting today gave its approval for TPWD to take the steps necessary to acquire approximately 3,300 acres for future development and operation as a new state park in north Texas. TPWD plans to complete the acquisition in September.
TPWD and the Nature Conservancy have spent the last few years exploring land in Johnson, Bosque, Erath, Hood, Parker, Palo Pinto and Tarrant counties, seeking a suitable site for a new Texas state park. The identified property, which straddles the Stephens and Palo Pinto county line, consists of three contiguous tracts composed of the Parsons and Copeland ranches, and a 40-acre in-holding.
Funds for the purchase come from the sale in 2008 of the former Eagle Mountain Lake State Park property for $9.2 million made possible by an array of private and public donors, with the explicit understanding, supported by Gov. Rick Perry and area legislators, that the proceeds would be used to acquire another state park within 90 miles of downtown Fort Worth.
The department proposes to spend about $7.6 million to acquire the property that sits just a few miles north of Interstate 20, about 70 miles from downtown Fort Worth. The remainder of the $9.2 million from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake State Park will be held in a dedicated sub-account for future park land acquisition and/or improvements.
TPWD recently received approval from the Legislative Budget Board to use the Eagle Mountain property sales proceeds to purchase land for a new north Texas state park. A public input meeting was held in Strawn on Aug. 23.
TPWD and TNC have been working closely with landowners and local officials, including the mayor of Strawn, to ensure public support for the project. A cooperative agreement is in the works to include the use of 81-acre Tucker Lake in the proposed state park.
"The proposed future state park site fronts two miles on the north fork of Palo Pinto Creek in the Cross Timbers region, and contains diverse topography and extraordinary conservation and recreation potential," says TPW Commission chairman Peter Holt. "The property's rich natural resources - ranging from hilltop vistas to riparian forest - represent an excellent opportunity to provide a wilderness experience for future park-goers. In addition, the land is home to endangered species, such as the golden-cheeked warbler."
If TPWD acquires the property, it will take some time to complete a master plan that would guide public use and development of the site, according to TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.
"At this time, the agency has limited resources to staff or operate the state park," Smith says. "Nonetheless, the acquisition is financially and strategically smart, as it secures land when prices are relatively low for future recreational use near a high-growth population center. It also fulfills a promise to the people of Fort Worth. Regardless of when the park is opened, it represents an investment that will pay recreational and conservation dividends for generations to come."
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
Texas Parks and Wildlife Manages 21.5 Percent Cut in 2012 Budget
Agency Relying On License, Park Revenue To Avoid Further Impacts
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved a 2012 budget that reflects a 21.5 percent cut in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department funding over the next two years. The agency is trying to limit impacts on the public involving state parks, fisheries and wildlife, and leaders say there are ways people can help.
The 2012 operating and capital budget approved Aug. 25 by the commission totals $332.31 million, down from $423.2 million in 2011 and $468.8 million in 2010. TPWD had requested $700 million for the 2012-2013 biennium in its Legislative Appropriations Request and received $550 million, a reduction of $150 million or 21.5 percent.
The state budget bill also reduced TPWD's employee count by 231.5 FTE (full time equivalent) positions. However, the legislature passed a rider that says if the agency can generate enough revenue from park fees and other sources, it can save about 60 state park FTEs, making the actual FTE cut 169.2 positions. After accounting for vacancies, 111 people were laid off across the agency, which employs about 3,100 people statewide.
"These are challenging times for all state agencies, but if those who love wildlife and parks feel moved to help, there is an easy way to do so," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director.
"It's this simple: go fishing and hunting, and visit your state parks," Smith said. "Regardless of how often you go, when you buy a license or a state park pass, it's an investment in the user-pay, user-benefit model of North American conservation. We will need healthy license sales and park attendance to get us through the next two years. Also, the legislature created a vehicle registration donation option that is very important for state parks."
House Bill 1301 passed in the recent session means that when Texans get motor vehicle registration renewal notices in the mail, they'll see a new option to donate $5 or more for state parks. The option will first appear on January renewal notices going out in December. Drivers can also donate when registering at their county tax office or online in counties which offer online payment. The Texas Comptroller estimated this will earn about $3.2 million for the biennium, and this revenue must be raised to avoid further reductions in park operations and staffing.
About a quarter of the agency budget goes to State Parks Division, where 23 of the 93 Texas state parks will see some reduction in staff, operations or both, though no parks are currently expected to close. Ten of those 23 parks will operate fewer days of the week or trim other services. Changes are already in effect at some parks, others will be phased in during off seasons to minimize visitor impacts. One park is being transferred to local control; Sebastopol House State Historic Site will be run by the City of Seguin. Also, TPWD's Local Park Grants for city and county parks lost state funding for the next two years, and the program will continue with smaller grant awards using federal dollars.
The Wildlife Division's popular small game/dove lease program that secures private land for public hunting had been looking at a 15 percent decrease in public opportunity. But the department got a federal grant that will help offset public impacts. The division also lost a significant part of its wildlife diversity staff, leaving remaining employees to manage endangered species and other nongame matters.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine will move to 10 printed issues per year in 2012, and will offer new spring fishing and fall hunting digital guides in the off months.
Fewer fish will be produced in Inland Fisheries Division hatcheries for statewide lake stockings. Also, TPWD lost $1.5 million for the biennium to treat noxious aquatic vegetation, meaning a drop in control of dangerous water weeds like giant salvinia.
The Coastal Fisheries Division's commercial license buyback program lost $2 million for the biennium. This means an estimated 244 licenses (122 per year) will not be purchased and retired in the shrimp, finfish and crab fisheries. The program was set up to protect native saltwater species and keep fishing industries profitable yet sustainable.
These are just a few examples of budget impacts across the agency.
Background detail on TPWD finances, including financial information for previous years, is available in links to budgets and strategic plans on the department website.
---
On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/business
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
$5.6 million in Outdoor Grants to Benefit Texas Communities
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved $5.6 million in competitive grants for city and county parks across the state. Commissioners chose 12 out of 52 eligible grant requests for outdoor recreation facilities funding.
Funding for the Outdoor Recreation grants come from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the state Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA).
The commission approved only two out of 26 Outdoor Recreation projects submitted by political subdivisions with less than 500,000 population that were eligible for matching funds from the LWCF program.
Willacy County will receive $500,000 to acquire 48.5 acres and develop Laguna Point Recreation Area near Port Mansfield. Project plans include a 20-acre natural open space dedication area, fishing pier, playground, fishing dock, kayak launch, boardwalks, trails, picnic shelters and interpretive signs.
The City of Anna in Collin County also will receive a $500,000 grant to acquire 39.7 acres to expand and further develop Slayter Creek Park located in the northern area of the city. The project proposes a 39.7 acres natural open space dedication, disc golf course, splash pad, trail, ball fields, gazebo, skate park, additional trees, and interpretive signs.
Five political subdivisions with populations of more than 500,000 were approved for funding under the TRPA Urban Outdoor Recreation grant program. Austin, Bexar County, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio will receive $4.25 million in matching funds for outdoor recreation projects.
The City of Austin will receive $1 million to renovate and further develop 10 acres of the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail at Auditorium Shores on Riverside Drive. Plans include expansion of a parking lot, restroom and utilities, trail realignment, shoreline restoration, exercise stations, restroom, landscaping, drinking fountain, trash cans, and signs.
Bexar County will receive $1 million to renovate facilities at 39-acre Mission County Park II, located at 6030 Padre Drive in the south central San Antonio. County plans include renovation of the rotunda, a lighting upgrade at the dance pavilion, demolition and replacement of the pavilion and stage, new ticket booth/restroom, trail, permeable surface parking lot, trail, pavilion, native tree plantings, site grading, drainage improvements, habitat restoration and burial of overhead utility lines.
The City of Fort Worth will receive $1 million to purchase 246 acres and develop Northwest Community Park located just west of Interstate 35-W and north of Loop 820 at 8575 Blue Mound Road. Development will include utilities, athletic field improvements, canoe launch/dock/overlook, paddle trail, nature trail, concrete trail, information kiosk, picnic tables, benches, parking lot, dam/spillway repairs, riparian and natural area restoration, removal of invasive species and signage.
The City of Houston will receive $1 million to acquire 0.75 acres to further develop Emancipation Park, located southeast of downtown at 3018 Dowling Street. Plans call for environmental clean-up and installation of utilities, grading and drainage, parking, walking trail, entry plaza, water feature, native trees and drip irrigation, entry sign and program acknowledgement sign.
The City of San Antonio will receive $250,000 to renovate and redevelop the playgrounds at San Juan Brady Park, 2307 S. Calaveras; South Side Lions Park, 3100 Hiawatha; and Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park, 12603 West Avenue. The city plans to demolish and remove existing playground equipment, replacing it with new playground equipment with new fall zones.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also received 21 eligible applications from subdivisions with less than 20,000 population seeking a total of $1.38 million in Small Community Recreation Grant funding. The commission voted to award federal matching funds of $75,000 each to five governmental entities for the acquisition and development of public recreation facilities.
The City of Centerville will use its grant to renovate and further develop 0.582 acre Joseph A. Sullivan Park located at Main and Polk Streets in the central area of the city. Development plans include a splash pad, playground renovation, trail, gardens, interpretive signs, flagpole, tree planting and program signs. Landscaping, lighting, bench, drinking fountain, and professional services will be provided at no cost to the project.
Crystal City will use its grant to renovate the municipal pool, located adjacent to Juan Garcia Park on the city's east side. Development plans include replacement of all plumbing appurtenances, filtration system, wading pool, ladders, deck and tiles and sandblasting of the pool surface.
The Harris County WCID #136 will use its grant to renovate and further develop nine-acre Birnam Wood Nature Park, located southeast of Spring in the central area of the water district. Development will include trail renovation and extension, fitness stations, picnic tables, benches, butterfly, hummingbird, herb and Xeriscape gardens with solar-powered drip irrigation, solar lighting, interpretive signs, trash receptacles and program signs.
The City of Lorena will use its grant to renovate and further develop 2.787 acre McBray Park located in the west central area of the city. Development plans include a playground, shuffleboard court, horseshoe pits, benches, pavilion expansion with picnic tables, nature trail, Xeriscape garden, concrete walkway with solar lighting, landscaping and signs.
The City of Pittsburg will use its grant to further develop 20-acre Fair Park, 301 N. Texas Street, in the west central part of the city. Development plans include a playground, pavilion, pond renovations and fountain, basketball court renovation, horseshoe and washer pits, shuffleboard court, fishing benches, picnic tables, ADA swings, trees, trash cans, and interpretive signs. Parking and sidewalk improvements, the installation of the playground, energy-efficient lights, bird houses, duck boxes and the planting of the butterfly garden are being donated.
Looking ahead, the 82nd Texas Legislature has suspended all state funding for Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA) and all Large County & Municipality Recreation and Parks Accounts for FY 2012-2013. The loss of state funding for local grants for city and county parks for the next two years means the programs will depend on solely on federal dollars to continue, resulting in reduced grant awards for the Outdoor Recreation, Indoor Recreation, Small Community, Urban Outdoor, Urban Indoor and Community Outdoor Outreach programs.
For more information about the grant awards or the recreation grant programs, see TPWD's grants Web page, phone the Recreation Grants Branch at 512-389-8224 or email: Rec.Grants@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Aug. 25, 2011
TPW Commission Okays Sebastopol House Transfer to Seguin
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Thursday meeting in Austin put its stamp of approval on the transfer of Sebastopol House State Historic Site to the City of Seguin.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff have been working with Seguin officials for months to work out the transfer agreement for the 1856 Greek Revival home and 2.2-acre site acquired by TPWD in 1976 and opened to the public in 1989. The City of Seguin will assume daily management duties on Sept. 1 under a transfer agreement that ensures the site and its resources are protected.
Sebastopol House was one of seven TPWD state parks that the Legislative Budget Board suggested the agency consider transferring to local operation to address a reduction in state funding for FY2012-2013. Seguin officials took the initiative to maintain public access to this important part of their community's history and will continue to provide public access and education at the site.
Sebastopol House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its unusual limecrete construction and architectural significance. The small urban park in the heart of Seguin features antique roses and 300-year-old live oaks.
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