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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-08-01                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Lydia Saldaņa, 512-389-4557, lydia.saldana@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 1, 2012
Deputy Executive Director Gene McCarty Announces Retirement
AUSTIN -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Deputy Executive Director for Administration Gene McCarty has announced his retirement effective Aug. 31 after 34 years of state service.
McCarty's distinguished career began as a fish and wildlife technician in a fish hatchery and he rose through the ranks over the years to play an integral role in shaping department policy on a wide range of issues.
"I've heard some people say that no one is indispensible, but Gene McCarty comes pretty darn close," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "His counsel is sought by his colleagues at all levels and his long field experience coupled with his strengths as an administrator has made him invaluable to our agency and the conservation mission we serve."
McCarty began his career with TPWD at the Dundee Fish Hatchery near Wichita Falls in 1978 as a fish and wildlife technician, and quickly began moving up to positions of greater responsibility. He was promoted to hatchery superintendent at the Huntsville Fish Hatchery in 1981.
In 1982, McCarty became a biologist in Corpus Christi and helped build the original John Wilson Fish Hatchery from the ground up. That hatchery is now known as the CCA Marine Development Center. He worked there until 1987, when he was promoted once again to be statewide director for fish hatchery programs. In 1994 he became the director of the Coastal Fisheries division, a position he held until 1997. During his tenure as head of Coastal Fisheries, McCarty also played a critical role in construction of Sea Center Texas, a hatchery and aquarium in Lake Jackson.
After leaving Coastal Fisheries, McCarty became chief of staff at the Austin executive office and worked directly with the executive director until promoted to his present position in 2005. As deputy executive director for administration, McCarty supervises four divisions: Administrative Resources, Communications, Human Resources, and Information Technology.
McCarty's conservation achievements are many, including the key leadership role he played in the implementation of the shrimp license buyback program in 1995. Funds generated from a surcharge on commercial licenses and on the Saltwater Fishing Stamp are used for purchasing and retiring commercial crab, finfish, bait shrimp, and bay shrimp licenses to stabilize fishing effort and support healthy fisheries stock. Although unpopular to begin with, the program has been successful and as of February of this year, $13.9 million had been spent to purchase and retire 2092 commercial bay and bait shrimp fishing boat licenses. This represents 65 percent of the original 3231 licenses grandfathered into the fishery in 1995. The very first shrimp license purchased with these funds still hangs in McCarty's office.
During the latter part of his career, McCarty played a major role in five legislative sessions by working with all divisions to track bills, provide information and respond to lawmaker's requests. He also worked directly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the nine-member board appointed by the governor that oversees the state agency.
"From my first day at work cleaning out drainage ditches at Dundee State Fish Hatchery to negotiating the terms of limited entry with a room full of hostile shrimpers to outlining the agency's budget with the Legislative Budget Board, it has always been my conviction that there can be no greater honor then to serve TPWD and its mission," said McCarty. "I have been truly blessed and TPWD has been one of the defining elements of my life. TPWD's mission has been my mission and no matter where I am or what I am doing I have always been proud to say I work for TPWD."
McCarty said he now plans to put into action the motto at TPWD, "Life's Better Outside."
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Richard Ott, (903) 566-2161, richard.ott@tpwd.texas.gov; John Taylor, (903) 849-6853, jtaylor@chandlertx.com ]
Aug. 1, 2012
Neches River Access above Lake Palestine to be Improved
ATHENS--It's easy to tell when the white bass are making their annual spring run up the Neches River above Lake Palestine: cars and trucks line both sides of the highway where Texas 31 crosses the river just east of Chandler, and tackle-laden anglers scramble across the busy four-lane divided highway.
"It's a dangerous situation. Someone could get killed out there," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologist Richard Ott.
The problem is the property adjacent to the river north of the Texas 31 bridge is privately owned. This has caused a dilemma for anglers wanting to cash in on the white bass run. Do they trespass to not miss the run, or find a boat to fish in the river, which is public?
But help is on the way, thanks to TPWD, the City of Chandler, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Henderson County and the East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation.
"Fortunately, the property owner has been a very good sport and has allowed anglers to access the riparian zone," Ott said. "He has even provided a low spot in the fence for them to cross. The real fly in the ointment has been parking, which has traditionally been limited to highway right-of-way."
That problem is in the process of being solved. Work will soon begin on a new public access area north of the highway that could eventually connect with the existing parking lot, boat ramp and park on the south side. Included in the new area will be a nearly one-acre parking lot, an information kiosk and a canoe and kayak launch.
"Although we were able to get grant money for infrastructure, the conditions of the grant only allowed for a one-year lease," Ott said. "We did not feel comfortable about developing the area without a long-term lease to insure that the property would continue to be accessible by anglers."
The project was rescued by the East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation, which funded a 20-year lease with option to renew on 12.5 acres of land along the northwest shore of the Neches River north of Texas 31 extending from the bridge about half a mile upstream.
According to the terms of the lease, the existing fence north of the highway will be moved to demarcate the new area.
Major funding for the project, some $25,000, comes from federal funds distributed through the U.S Department of Agriculture's Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
TPWD has been working for several years to bring the project to fruition, and doing so required enlisting the help of a number of partners. "The Upper Neches River Authority has a memorandum of understanding with the City of Chandler to provide the park land on the south side of the highway," Ott said. "That allows us to tie the north and south sides of the park together. The City of Chandler will operate the property as an extension of the park south of the bridge and will be able to provide police protection and trash collection. TxDOT provided the engineering for the new parking lot and will also contribute recycled asphalt paving for base material. Grant funds will pay for moving the fences, topping the base and building the drive off the highway. Henderson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence will provide the equipment and labor to actually build the parking lot."
The one missing piece of the puzzle is an elevated walkway under the bridge so that anglers can cross safely from one side of the highway to the other. Ott is hoping to find a project partner to fund it.
"This section of the river has always been a diamond in the rough for the City of Chandler," said John Taylor, assistant city administrator. "This project will not only improve angler and boater access to this very scenic stretch of the Neches River, it will bring more visibility and awareness to this great natural asset. It will also mean that people entering and leaving Chandler will pass through a natural gateway with a park on both sides of the highway."
Work is expected to begin on the project by the end of September and be completed in time for the white bass run next spring.
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