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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2014-03-12                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than six months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.govDonald Beard, park superintendent, (806) 455-1492 or Donald.beard@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 12, 2014
Newborn Added to Caprock Canyons State Park Bison Herd
QUITAQUE -- The first of what is expected to be a healthy crop of baby bison was born recently and up to 25 more of the shaggy critters will likely join the historic herd at Caprock Canyons State Park this spring.
The growing bison herd, which now numbers 85, has almost doubled visitation to the sprawling Texas Panhandle park, where the Western icon can be viewed up close, according to Superintendent Donald Beard, who hopes to expand the bison range to all but 2,500 of its 15,000 acres later this year.
"We've seen our annual visitation increase from 38,000 in FY 2012 when the bison were released to roam more freely in the upland portion of the park to 68,000 last year," Beard says. "Visitation is already up 10 percent this year compared to the same time last year."
In the fall of 2011, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department released the state bison herd from a 300-acre area of Caprock Canyons State Park to roam more than 700 acres of restored native grass prairie near the Visitor Center and Theo Lake.
TPWD has been raising funds for additional fencing, mesquite eradication and prairie restoration the past couple of years by sponsoring public events at the park and in nearby Quitaque, including a music festival headlined by Asleep at the Wheel.
The Caprock Canyons bison descend from the legendary Charles Goodnight herd that saved the Southern bison from extinction in the 19th century and supplied wild stock for Yellowstone National Park and some of the nation's largest zoos and ranches.
Caprock Canyons State Park is located about 50 miles northeast of Plainview on FM 1065 approximately 4 miles north of State Highway 86. For more information, call (806) 455-1492 or visit the TPWD Website.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/caprock_canyons/
Editors - For downloadable j-peg images of bison and the park, please visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=pom_caprock_canyons_sp
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[ Note: This item is more than six months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Calvin Richardson, (806) 651-3014, calvin.richardson@tpwd.texas.gov; Tom Harvey, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 12, 2014
Texas Lesser Prairie-Chicken Landowner Agreements Reach Record 600,000 Acres
AUSTIN - Eighty-four Texas ranchers in the Panhandle and Rolling Plains have voluntarily enrolled 614,250 acres in conservation agreements for the lesser prairie-chicken, marking one of the largest private landowner commitment to conserve a rare species in Texas history. This comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mulls whether to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act, a decision expected by March 31.
Back in November 2006, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department signed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with the federal wildlife agency. At the time, the bird was a candidate for listing. Yet for several years after the agreement was developed, few landowners signed on. Then, after the USFWS proposed listing the bird as threatened in late 2012, enrollment surged.
By undertaking voluntary conservation measures on their property under the agreement, landowners are assured that no further land use restrictions or conditions will be required from them if the lesser prairie-chicken is ultimately listed. In return, landowners undertake conservation actions such as brush control, grazing management, prescribed burning, and allowing periodic monitoring on their property.
"Prairie-chicken conservation equals grassland conservation," said Calvin Richardson, TPWD Wildlife Division district leader, based in Canyon. "Landowners who provide good habitat for this bird are helping many other grassland-dependent species, such as pronghorn antelope and many grassland birds. Further, prairie conservation equals water conservation. Restoring and managing the native grasslands of the Texas Panhandle, including regions with Playa Lakes, can help provide vital recharge sources for the Ogallala Aquifer."
Department biologists also said the improvement in rangeland health that results from CCAA management also benefits cattle operations with conservative stocking rates that ensure good plant health, productivity, and a cushion in an unpredictable weather environment.
For more information about the Texas lesser prairie-chicken CCAA, and other available conservation tools for farmers, ranchers and other landowners, contact: Calvin Richardson, calvin.richardson@tpwd.texas.gov, (806) 651-3014.
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