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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-04-26                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
April 26, 2004
Bass Pro Shops Founder To Match Raised Funds for Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Education Building
ATHENS, Texas-Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris is serious about the value of teaching young people principles of natural resource conservation by involving them in fishing.
Morris showed that commitment at a fundraiser for the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center held April 3 in Grapevine. He pledged to match dollar for dollar all monies raised during the next year (up to $650,000) for the construction of a new education building at TFFC. This amount equates to one-half of the money needed to complete the fundraising for the new education center.
"Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and in particular the staff of the Inland Fisheries Division have made Texas bass fishing among the best in the nation," explained Morris. "We must teach kids, as well as novice adults, how to enjoy all the outdoor activities the great outdoors has to offer."
Morris made his pledge and remarks at the second annual 'Schooling for Bass' banquet, which was attended by around 600 guests as well as TPWD Executive Director Robert L. Cook and TPW Commission members J. Robert Brown and Philip Montgomery. Also in attendance was former TPW Commissioner Edwin L. Cox, Jr., for whom the TFFC is named. 'Schooling for Bass' was organized by retired Dallas banker Richard Hart for the purpose of raising funds for TFFC.
"Provision of space for educational programming is critical to TFFC's ability to continue to carry out its mission and expand its services to school-aged children," said Allen Forshage, TFFC director. "The new space will also allow expansion of professional development programming for school teachers, greatly multiplying TFFC's impact on environmental education." Plans for the building also include a museum honoring Texas game wardens.
Hart's 'Schooling for Bass' group has raised about $300,000 for the building so far. "Mr. Morris's gift represents an incredible level of support for Texas fishing through TFFC," Forshage said. "These matching funds will enable us to reach our $1.5 million goal by April 2005."
Persons wishing to donate money to the fund may contact Schooling for Bass at (214) 360-3911 or at Bank One, 8111 Preston Road, 2nd Floor, Dallas 75225.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an innovative aquatic nature center and hatchery complex operated by TPWD located 75 miles southeast of Dallas on FM 2495 four miles east of Athens. Attractions include 300,000 gallons of aquariums, daily dive show and on-site fishing. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission is as follows: adults $5.50, seniors $4.50, children ages 4-12, $3.50. For more information, visit the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) and click on Fishing or call the TFFC at (903) 676-2277.
Bass Pro Shops, a popular outdoors store, offers shoppers a large selection of quality outdoor gear, clothing and accessories from top industry names and at value prices. Beyond fishing and hunting, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores offers equipment for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, outdoor cooking and more. A gift and nature center also serves up a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
April 26, 2004
Teens Use Hunter Education Skills To Help Save Man's Life
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hunting accidents are relatively few nowadays, thanks mainly to safety skills gained from hunter education. Last year there were only 44 hunting-related mishaps in Texas among a hunting population of more than one million, and a majority of those incidents could be considered minor. Some were not.
One accident in particular nearly cost a man his life were it not for the swift response by a trio of young hunters who drew on the first-aid skills learned in their hunter education class.
It was the day before Thanksgiving and brothers Cody and Robby Cook were hunting deer on their uncle's property when they heard a gunshot followed immediately by screams. While climbing into a tripod hunting stand on an adjacent ranch, a hunter had dropped his loaded 30-06 rifle, which discharged and struck him in his upper right arm.
The 44-year-old victim was not required to have hunter education because of his age, but had he taken the course he would have known that you never carry a loaded firearm when climbing into a stand, according to Terry Erwin, hunter education coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "Also, if you are climbing into anything higher than you can reach, you always use a hauling line to raise your firearm," he emphasized. "This was an accident that likely could have been avoided had the hunter used the basic firearms safety rules we stress in hunter education."
The Cook brothers received their hunter education training at age 13 from their local agriculture science teacher during a summer class. Fortunately for the victim, they knew how to apply pressure to the gunshot wound and used their cell phone to get help.
While Robby tended to the victim, Cody called their mother, some 20 miles away to obtain the 911 address of the location of their uncle's property. She quickly called the local 911, since Cody's cell phone is serviced out of College Station, and of no direct help. She gave them Cody's cell phone number and then proceeded to call her niece, Jill Halfmann, who lived on the property where the boys were hunting. Halfmann, who is also hunter-education certified, went to the scene, assisted with the first aid and provided the exact 911 address so Cody could direct EMS to the area via cell phone.
The sheriff arrived on the scene and transported the victim to a waiting ambulance nearby. EMS treated and stabilized him, but the wound was so severe that he was airlifted to the hospital in San Angelo. He was further stabilized and later flown to another hospital in the Dallas metro-area for extensive reconstructive surgery. He is now recovering and undergoing physical therapy.
"This is a testament to these youth who took the hunter education course," said Erwin.
Texas has a national reputation for making access to hunter education convenient and plentiful with more than 4,400 courses offered across the state and at least one in all 254 counties each year. The summer months when school lets out are an ideal time for new hunters to take the course.
"Kids usually have plenty of free time during the summer and it's a good way to be prepared before the September dove-hunting season," Erwin said.
According to the 2003 Texas Hunting Accident Report, 25 percent of the accidents occurred during dove season and the most common error in judgment involved covering the victim while swinging on game.
Texans have several options available for fulfilling hunter education requirements, including the traditional classroom environment, a home study course and an online course. Texas certifies about 33,000 students annually.
The hunter education course is a minimum 10-hour class that teaches hunting safety, modern and primitive sporting arms, wildlife conservation, outdoor skills and responsibility. When the course is completed, the certification card is good for life and is honored by all states, Mexico, and all Canadian provinces that require hunter education. Proof of certification, which includes the card or the hunter education certification number printed on the hunting license, must be carried at all times while hunting.
Any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 who is at least 17 years old must pass the course to legally hunt in Texas. Hunters ages 12-16 must either pass the course or be accompanied by a person who is at least 17 or older licensed to hunt in Texas. Hunters younger than age 12 may take the course but they will not be certified and must be accompanied by a person licensed to hunt in Texas who is at least age 17 or older.
Accompanied means within normal voice control and preferably within arm's length. Hunters can purchase a license before becoming certified, but they must carry proof of certification while hunting.
More information about hunter education as well as the schedule of course offerings are available at local TPWD offices, by calling TPWD at (800) 792-1112 ext. 62 or by visiting the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu/hunted/).
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
April 26, 2004
First Local Access Plan Created for Riverbed Vehicles
MASON, Texas -- The first local community plan to allow controlled motor vehicle access in a state-owned riverbed has been approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Since a new state law banning riverbed vehicle traffic went into effect Jan. 1, Mason County is the only local government to finalize such a plan, although several other communities are developing or considering similar plans. Senate Bill 155 in the last legislative session gave TPWD the authority to restrict riverbed vehicle traffic but included a provision to allow the state agency to approve local river access plans.
Known locally as the James River Crossing, the area covered by the Mason County plan is just off FM 2389 where it crosses the Llano River. The site is about 500 yards long by about 250 yards across. It includes a state-owned gravel island within the river bed where the road crosses it that's been a longtime access point for swimmers, kayakers, canoers, and anglers, according to Mason County Attorney Shain Chapman.
"We just hated to see something like that taken away from the public when I don't think that was the intent behind the legislation," Chapman said. "I think the clear intent was to stop the four-wheeling activities that were taking place on some points of the river, but not prohibiting folks from using the river in appropriate ways."
Chapman said TPWD game wardens came to him last year as a proactive step, saying they realized this area might cause a problem, and encouraged county officials to consider a local river access plan.
The Mason County plan allows river enthusiasts access similar to what they had before, but with a few restrictions.
"They can't drive in the water at any time," Chapman said. "They can travel in their vehicles in the dry area of the gravel river bar covered by the plan, but there's a five mile-per-hour speed limit. We do have a restriction that allows no ATVs. We also prohibit any motorized vehicle traffic in that area between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Otherwise, we allow people to continue to camp, fish or whatever the case may be."
For several months, TPWD game wardens have been notifying people they encounter on or near rivers that the new law is now in effect. In many cases, wardens issue warnings the first time they encounter vehicles in riverbeds, but then issue citations for subsequent incidents. Game wardens report generally good compliance with the new law across the state, noting that in the past three months they have issued 74 warnings and only eight citations statewide. Local sheriff's deputies and other peace officers are also enforcing the law. A first offense is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of as much as $500. Repeat offenders could face higher fines and jail time.
The new law pertains to any "navigable river or stream" in Texas except for the Canadian River and the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River in the Panhandle.
The law prohibits motor vehicles from operating in "that portion of the bed, bottom, or bank of any navigable river or stream that lies at or below the gradient boundary of the river or stream."
It defines navigable river or stream as "a river or stream that retains an average width of 30 or more feet from the mouth or confluence up."
A motor vehicle is defined as "any wheeled or tracked vehicle, machine, tractor, trailer, or semi-trailer propelled or drawn by mechanical power and used to transport a person or thing."
The public continues to have the right to travel along navigable waterways as long as the restrictions on motor vehicle use are observed. The law says "a person may not restrict, obstruct, interfere with, or limit public recreational use of a protected freshwater area." It also contains various exemptions for motor vehicle use in riverbeds by emergency and law enforcement personnel, utility workers, adjacent landowners and others.
The law grew out of Senate Bill 155, sponsored in the Texas Senate by Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo. Rep. Robert Puente of San Antonio sponsored a companion bill in the Texas House of Representatives.
The law also directs TPWD to "facilitate the development of motor vehicle recreation sites that are not located in or on a protected freshwater area." The department administers the National Recreational Trails Fund in Texas, awarding grants to build or maintain trails for hiking, biking and similar uses. This is funded by a portion of federal gasoline taxes on non-highway recreational vehicles. By law, a certain percentage of funds are supposed to be used for motor vehicle trails, but TPWD has historically received few grant applications to meet this need. The department is now actively seeking appropriate sites and grant proposals that provide alternatives for off-road vehicles away from rivers and other sensitive areas.
SB155 did not clarify or change the legal definition of a navigable river or stream. This has long been a source of confusion and controversy in Texas, with river recreationists and private property owners sometimes clashing about whether a particular area on or near a river is considered "navigable" according to the law. A key issue is where the "gradient boundary" at a river's edge actually lies.
TPWD has created a new set of Web pages covering topics related to SB155 (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/texaswater/rivers/mvindex.phtml). There are links here to the entire text of the law and to various committee and research reports that led to it. These pages also include local access plan guidelines and practical advice about navigable streams and river access.
Questions about Local River Access Plans or other provisions of SB 155 may be directed to (512) 389-4725 or (800) 792-1112, extension 4725 or to melissa.parker@tpwd.texas.gov.
Anyone interested in grant funding to create motor vehicle trails may contact Andy Goldbloom at (512) 912-7128 or at andy.goldbloom@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
April 26, 2004
Conservancy Marks Four Decades of Partnership With TPWD
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Nature Conservancy of Texas this year commemorates its 40th anniversary, marking four decades of partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to save important lands and waters in the Lone Star State.
During the years, the nonprofit conservation group has purchased or brokered the acquisition of important land tracts that later became state parks or wildlife management areas. Today, the Conservancy manages preserves next to state parks or WMAs, thus working cooperatively to incorporate best practices for land management across larger areas. Finally, the group works with TPWD and others to help and encourage private landowners to manage property in ways that benefit wildlife and people.
"The Nature Conservancy has been an outstanding conservation partner in Texas," said Robert L. Cook, TPWD executive director. "They have the ability to raise money and work intelligently and quietly and this has made them extremely effective. Plus, they have become increasingly adept at working with private landowners, understanding property rights and local community concerns, and that's particularly important and appreciated where our agency and commission are concerned."
"From the Davis Mountains in Far West Texas to Caddo Lake in East Texas, at Mad Island Marsh on the gulf coast and in the heart of the Hill Country at Enchanted Rock, the natural partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy of Texas has helped preserve a legacy of wildlife habitat and recreation areas for future generations," said Carter Smith, Texas State Director for The Nature Conservancy.
Smith said the two organizations have maintained a tradition of sharing scientific data and conservation planning strategies, as in current work to restore native prairie grasslands on private lands along the Texas coast.
"Additionally, because the Conservancy is a private non-profit able to work with a great deal of flexibility and speed, we have been able to acquire potential parkland when it became available, and convey it later to TPWD," Smith explained.
An acquisition by the Conservancy of 1,640 acres at Enchanted Rock in 1978 marked the first time the non-profit facilitated the creation of state parklands. Other state parks, wildlife management areas and state natural areas created by or contributed to by Conservancy acquisitions include:
--Honey Creek State Natural Area
--Mad Island Marsh Wildlife Management Area
--World Birding Center
--Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area
--San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
--Boca Chica State Park
Smith noted that while early efforts of The Nature Conservancy of Texas often focused on creating parklands, in more recent years the non-profit organization has concentrated on private land conservation, frequently resulting in complementary collaboration between the Conservancy, TPWD and private landowners to conserve and protect lands within the same ecosystems.
For example, land management at Davis Mountains State Park is enhanced by conservation work at the Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve, as well as at multiple private lands that the Conservancy manages for conservation. On the Devils River, where the Conservancy owns Dolan Falls Preserve and owns or manages multiple additional conservation properties, the organizations share scientific information and land management techniques to best conserve TPWD's Devils River State Natural Area and the entire river system.
The Conservancy's nature preserves and conservation-management lands also serve as living laboratories for a wide variety of TPWD scientists and researchers, and often are provided as outdoor classrooms for TPWD public education programs such as Project WILD and Monarch Watch.
Both organizations have shared key staff members and volunteers through the years. Smith, who recently was named as the Conservancy's Texas state director, worked in TPWD's private lands program in 1993 and 1994 and helped to establish the Texas Land Trust Council in partnership with TPWD. Andrew "Andy" Sansom, executive director for TPWD from 1990 to 2001, served as the Conservancy's Texas state director from 1982-87. Members of the Conservancy's volunteer Texas Board of Trustees who also served as Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission members include Tim Hixon, Carol Dinkins and Mickey Burleson.
Smith said the two organizations continue to work today in partnership on many conservation issues throughout Texas, including private lands conservation, protection of rare animals and plants, freshwater conservation, promotion of nature tourism, scientific research, conservation assessment and local land trust development.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
April 26, 2004
West Texas Students Bring Home Top Prizes in Horned Lizard Essay Contest
AUSTIN, Texas -- If you want to find horned lizards in Texas, go west. If you want to find winning student researchers and writers, you also need to look west of IH-35. West Texas schools produced all the winners in this year's Hometown Horned Toads essay contest, sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Leading the pack was Childress High School, where Russell Graves' Advanced Wildlife Science class won the High School Team division for a second time. According to Lee Ann Linam, contest coordinator, "The Childress High School students really captured the essence of the contest-using the recollections of local residents and data about the local community and ecology to provide insight about why Texas horned lizards have declined in their hometown."
Graves believes that participation in the contest also allowed his students to gain valuable research skills. "I think that the horned toad essay contest has allowed my students the chance to take a community approach to solving the mystery behind the Texas Horned Lizard's disappearance. Through interviews with citizens throughout the community, analysis of county highway and cropland data, and the study of why the reptile is plentiful on the school's land gave all of the students a chance to work as a team in order to search for a relevant answer to this pressing issue."
The essay contest this year attracted 70 entries, representing the work of 137 students and data from 15 counties around the state. Students used interviews with local residents and researched local records to hypothesize when and why the popular Texas horned lizard, or horned toad declined in their communities. The majority of the winning essays suggested that the official state reptile began declining in the 1970s and 1980s with population growth, red imported fire ants, decline in harvester ants, and pesticide use suggested as the major causes of decline. Childress High School also used local records to hypothesize that increases in traffic, increased pesticide application as part of the boll weevil eradication program, and loss of open ground in the Conservation Reserve Program may have decreased the prevalence of horned lizards in Childress County. All of the essays suggested that horned lizards do still live in their communities.
Judging criteria for the contest include thoroughness of investigation, number of people interviewed, number of local written sources accessed and quality of presentation, including historical perspective, scientific analysis, neatness and creativity. Submissions were judged by participating organizations, including TPWD's Wildlife Diversity Program, Texas Historical Commission, County Historical Commissions, and the Horned Lizard Conservation Society. Individual winners received an outdoor learning kit including such items as Geographic Positioning Systems, binoculars, field guides, and magnifying lenses, while team winners have been offered a chance for a field trip to a TPWD Wildlife Management Area.
Winners in other age categories included:
Grades 3-5 Individual:
--1st place -- Will Tindol -- Hillander School, Midland
--2nd place -- Heath Holland -- Windsor Elementary, Amarillo
--3rd place -- Zachary Carter -- Hillander School, Midland
Grades 3-5 Team:
--Amy Cristiani, Norma Jean Crockett, and Amy Cristiani -- Hillander School, Midland
Grades 6-8 Individual:
--1st place -- Jase Ball -- Llano Junior High, Llano
--2nd place -- Rainy Edwards -- Llano Junior High, Llano
--3rd place (tie) -- Olivia Hutto and Julia Hebert -- Llano Junior High, Llano
Grades 6-8 Team:
--Rebecca Ator, Chrissie Bingham, Derek Brabson, Marcus Foust, Adan Hernandez, Chelsea Ketchum, Kendra Massie, Shandi Nelson, Kayla Patterson, Seth Riddle, and Ashley Strickler -- Lipan Junior High, Lipan
Grades 9-12 Individual:
--1st place -- Valerie Brooks -- Andrews High School, Andrews
The essay contest is an extension of a popular monitoring project called Texas Horned Lizard Watch. Since 1997, citizen volunteers have provided scientific data about the status of the state reptile to TPWD. Volunteer data has begun to shed insight on patterns of distribution in the state, along with important habitat data.
Linam, who also coordinates Texas Horned Lizard Watch, said TPWD also values the insight that the essays can provide. "The Texas horned lizard, or horned toad, is truly a Texas treasure. Much valuable information about their history is stored away in people's memories. We believe this essay contest is helping us better understand how to preserve this species, while connecting children to a real symbol of Texas folklore."
The contest may also offer students the chance to better understand their own communities. Amy Inman, a senior at Childress High School stated, "I really enjoyed participating in the Horned Toad Essay contest. The research we collected was like a window into Childress 20-50 years ago. While reading the compiled information, I began to realize how much our hometown and the surrounding rural area has changed. Horned Toads are not the only wildlife being affected by our growing economy. I sincerely hope that through contests like this, my generation can learn from past generations' mistakes, so in the future we can better preserve our wildlife."
For more information about the Hometown Horned Toads essay contest, visit the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/htht/). For more information about how to join Texas Horned Lizard Watch for the next monitoring season, call (800) 792-1112, Ext. 7011.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [KE]
April 26, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Radio
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of April 26-30, what's the best way to watch animals? Act like one. Plus, discarded blue jeans and unused oilfield pipe might seem like trash, but it's a builder's treasure at a couple of remodeled state parks.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: Spring turkey season is here and with it come many hunters from both in and out of state to try their luck at bagging one of these creatures; the Great Texas Birding Classic brings bird watchers from all over the country to compete in a week-long 'birdathon.' This year, however, some contestants will leave their binoculars at home; this spring there are two new ways to enjoy state parks; buy a new State Parks Pass to get into the more than 120 state parks and then fish free when you get there; and once they were cargo ships during World War II, now they are home to marine life in the sea.
Television
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Airing April 25- May 2, a Houston architect who builds boats; bats, bikes and buffalo at Caprock Canyons; camo clothing; learning search and rescue; and all about Comal Springs.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tv).
Magazine
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).
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