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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-04-01                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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 1, 2010
Lake Fork Rumbles: Toyota ShareLunker 494
ATHENS -- Lake Fork is the sleeping volcano of bass fishing: You know that sooner or later it is going to erupt, but it teases you with rumbles and rumors. Then one day it lives up to its promise and blows up.
Wednesday, March 31, was one of those days.
Jason Barnes of Yantis was fishing in two feet of water with a homemade jig when the big bass he'd been targeting for two days finally bit. The fish weighed 13.23 pounds when Barnes took it to The Minnow Bucket to await the arrival of ShareLunker program manager David Campbell to confirm the fish as Toyota ShareLunker 494.
Barnes actually caught the fish twice-almost-on two successive days. "The first day she bent my hook straight," he said. "I went back the next day with a heavy rod, braided line and a heavier hook. I wasn't going to lose her twice. I sat on her for about two hours before she finally bit. She just inhaled it."
Barnes was still feeling aftershocks when Campbell arrived a few hours later. "It was the best feeling ever," he said. "I thought I was having a heart attack."
While Barnes has the dream of manufacturing his own line of tackle someday, in the meantime he won't have to. His catch qualifies him for a $500 cash prize from the Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce and a tackle package worth $500 from Lake Fork Marina.
ShareLunker 494 is the twenty-third fish to be entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program during the current season. Only six fish remain to be caught to reach the 500 mark. The angler who catches that fish will receive $500 per pound and a rod and reel package from G. Loomis and Shimano.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or paging him at (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code.
Fish must be turned over to authorized TPWD personnel within 12 hours after being caught. Entries are not official until accepted by TPWD. Entry numbers are assigned in the order phone calls reporting catches are received by David Campbell.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year's season, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers, is posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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 1, 2010
Texas Launches New Front in War on Invasive Species
Awareness Campaign Says "Hello Giant Salvinia, Goodbye Texas Lakes"
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department today launched a public awareness campaign asking people to help control one of the most dangerous invasive aquatic species the state has ever known -- giant salvinia.
A native of Brazil, giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a floating, rootless fern that can double its coverage area in less than a week. The invasive plant, first discovered in a small pond near Houston in 1998, has been reported in 17 Texas lakes, including some of the state's most popular recreational water bodies: Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, Caddo Lake, Sheldon Lake, Lake Texana and Lake Conroe.
Left unchecked, giant salvinia can choke off boating and fishing access to an entire lake, clog power plant water intakes, and displace beneficial native plants needed by fish.
"Not only is giant salvinia endangering the ecology of our Texas lakes, it's threatening the economies of lakeside communities that depend on fishing, boating, and tourism," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director.
"The truth is most invasive species cannot be eradicated; we can only hope to slow their spread or prevent their arrival," said Peter Holt, TPW Commission chairman. "Education is indeed critical, and with this effort we have a chance to rally public support, thanks to additional funding from the Texas Legislature and help from many partners."
"Texans need to be aware of the threat from giant salvinia and active in its management," said Gov. Rick Perry. "If we don't get a handle on it and the other invasive species that are working their way into our ecosystem, the Texas we know and love will be changed forever and not for the better."
With the arrival of the spring outdoor recreation season, TPWD is launching a campaign to educate the public about ways to identify, report and stop giant salvinia, which is usually spread unknowingly by people moving their boats from lake to lake.
"It only takes one little tiny section of a plant to start a new infestation," said Howard Elder, an aquatic vegetation control expert in TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division.
Transporting giant salvinia -- as well as other invasive species -- is prohibited by state law. It is class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation.
Because it grows so fast, mechanical methods to remove the plant are impractical and the use of herbicides amounts to a costly, after-the-fact control measure.
"No one has enough money to fix the problem once this plant gets established," Elder said, emphasizing that the key to stop its spread is an informed citizenry who care about healthy Texas lakes.
"We need everyone to keep their eyes open," Elder said. "Learn to identify giant salvinia and other invasive species and report infestations to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Clean your boat, trailer and gear thoroughly when you leave the water."
(See "more about the campaign" below.)
One thing is clear at the outset: all the messages won't do any good without the active involvement of the public, especially boaters, anglers and lakeside communities.
"The only way we can beat giant salvinia is if everyone understands how important it is to always clean their boat, jet ski, trailer and gear when leaving a lake," Elder said.
What you can do
--Learn to identify and report giant salvinia and other invasive aquatic species.
--Clean your boat, trailer and gear and place plant material in a trash can before leaving a boat ramp area.
--If you see giant salvinia, report it at giantsalvinia@tpwd.texas.gov or (409) 384-9965.
--Learn more online at http://www.texasinvasives.org/
MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
TPWD is working with Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing on the multi-pronged awareness campaign, which will communicate the message "Hello Giant Salvinia, Goodbye Texas Lakes," and the call-to-action "Clean your boat, trailer and gear." The campaign includes floating buoys, gas station pump toppers and billboards at or near four targeted lakes: Caddo, Toledo Bend, Lake Conroe and Sam Rayburn. Television, radio, online advertising and social media platforms like Facebook will also reach anglers, boaters and water recreationists.
The television commercial features a "salvinia monster" character hitching a ride in a boat with a fisherman to bring humorous appeal to a serious issue. Austin-based actor and comedian Josh Painting portrays the wisecracking monster, and will make several appearances at public fishing events this spring and summer.
All campaign efforts drive traffic to www.texasinvasives.org, where visitors can find a wealth of information about giant salvinia and other terrestrial and aquatic invasives. This site, managed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, went through a major redesign this year for the campaign. TPWD's marketing group and ad agency worked with the wildflower center to make the site more visually appealing, easier to navigate and more accessible to non-scientists, while still featuring a separate robust section for professionals. The redesign emphasizes public interaction, including a new "Report It" function where people can log sightings of invasive pests, plus new mapping tools showing pest locations reported by Citizen Scientist volunteers.
The 2010 salvinia campaign marks the start of an umbrella effort that in future years will focus on other invasive plants and animals. TPWD is able to undertake the campaign thanks to $1.5 million in additional funding allocated by the 81st Texas Legislature specifically for public education and management actions to control invasive aquatic plants. For the campaign, TPWD is using $100,000 of this appropriation, plus other state and federal funds, bringing the total campaign cost to about $280,000.
To evaluate campaign effectiveness, TPWD will survey more than 3,000 boaters and anglers randomly drawn from within 60 miles of the four targeted lakes to find out their awareness of the problem and their attitudes and behavior. Surveys will be done before and after the awareness campaign to determine if the target population saw advertising or messaging that influenced a change in awareness, attitudes and behavior.
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On the Net:
Campaign Web site, complete information for the public: http://www.texasinvasives.org/
News media resources, photos, graphics, maps, audio, video: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/giant_salvinia/
Giant salvinia online video on TPWD’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TexasParksWildlife#p/c/D6860F6B8B22B497/0/-cgiJuoM4Jo
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Andee Chamberlain, 512-389-8652, mailto:brandi.reeder@tpwd.texas.gov; Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 1, 2010
TPWD Awarded More Than $3.5 million in Solar Grants
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been awarded more than $3.5 million in competitive federal stimulus grants for solar installations as part of the Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program. The program is offered by the State of Texas Comptroller as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will cover up to 20% of the total cost of the projects.
All 17 projects proposed were funded and the grants will go toward installing solar power at the main headquarters in Austin and in various state parks and fisheries across Texas.
TPWD is installing solar photovoltaic (PV) generation systems that will provide more than 100kW across seven state park sites in Region 1. These sites include Lake Tawakoni State Park, Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Cooper Lake State Park, East Texas Fish Hatchery, Cedar Hill State Park, Lake Arrowhead State Park and San Angelo State Park.
In Region 2, TPWD is installing solar PV generation systems that will provide at least 90kW in Government Canyon State Park, Bryan Fish Hatchery, McKinney Falls State Park, Sheldon Observatory Tower, State Park Region 4 Headquarters and Galveston Isle.
Three sites in Region 3 will install an estimated 40kW of solar PV generation systems: State Park Region 1 Headquarters, Choke Canyon State Park and Mustang Isle. The Austin headquarters will install a 50 kW solar PV system at the main agency building.
TPWD supports conservation actions that mitigate anticipated climate change impacts to plants, fish and wildlife and encourages the development of renewable energy projects which do not adversely affect those communities. These projects will help TPWD reach one of its goals set forth in the most recent Land & Water Plan to install solar panels at 15 agency sites by December 2011. (see page 35 of the L&W Plan.)
Those interested in bid opportunities should visit the TPWD Web site for more information.
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On the Net:
http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/sep/renewable/ 
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/bidops/current_bid_opportunities/
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[ Note: This item is more than four years 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.gov; Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 1, 2010
Spring Brings Host of Texas State Parks Repair Projects
AUSTIN -- Texas state park visitors will soon be benefitting from a full slate of major repair projects getting under way this year that are designed to rejuvenate the aging Texas state park system and greatly improve customer service, thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters.
General obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $69 million in repairs and renovations to state park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. The majority of the funding ($44 million) for the various repair projects at more than 40 state parks comes from the sale of Proposition 4 general obligation bonds which were overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2007 to fix up parks. The Legislature also approved the sale of $25 million in bonds to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
While the dry berthing of the battleship isn't expected for a few years, state park capital repair projects have already been completed or are under way at such places as Goliad and Sheldon Lake state parks. And dozens of other projects -- from the West Texas mountains to the East Texas piney woods -- have contractors in place and await launch.
"We are grateful to the Legislature for providing the funding needed to ensure that our state parks are getting better all the time," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "I ask our park customers to please pardon our dust while repairs are underway to make future visits more comfortable and enjoyable."
Several park projects, such as extensive renovations to Civilian Conservation Corps-built structures dating to the 1930s and replacement of decades-old plumbing at Bastrop and Buescher state parks, will be more noticeable than others once construction is completed. Park visitors will find other improvements to water and wastewater systems, plumbing and electrical grids less obvious, but such big-ticket projects are nonetheless critical for visitor comfort and safety. Still other projects at Cedar Hill, Huntsville and Lake Whitney state parks, to name a few, will bring restrooms and other facilities into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Some capital repair projects will address the most-cited concern among Texas state park visitors: aging and deteriorating bathrooms in state park campgrounds and cabins. So says Scott Stover, deputy director of TPWD's Infrastructure Division, who is overseeing the massive state park capital repair program that is being implemented under a new, streamlined system that groups projects regionally to increase efficiency.
TPWD has budgeted well over $1 million dollars to replace deteriorating galvanized plumbing in six of the historic cabins, replacement of electrical systems in the recreation hall and general improvements at the golf pro shop at Bastrop State Park, all structures built by the CCC more than 60 years ago. A $395,000 project at Brazos Bend State Park calls for installing new plumbing fixtures in 30 year-old restrooms and making them ADA compliant.
The restrooms at popular Lake Casa Blanca State Park in Laredo, too, have seen better days. Work crews will be replacing worn out comfort stations with five new prototypical restroom structures.
Daingerfield State Park in northeast Texas will benefit from more $4 million in renovation projects. The park's 75-year-old Bass Lodge, concession building and boat house will undergo extensive renovations. In addition, the park's existing restrooms will be replaced with new facilities and made ADA-compliant, and the park's wastewater system will be replaced.
Visitors to the state's perennial overnight camping leader, Garner State Park, will soon see the results of extensive repairs to screened shelters in the Oakmont and River Crossing campgrounds and replacement of a non-compliant comfort station in the Oakmont area. In addition, the park's 17 CCC-era cabins currently are being renovated.
Four of TPWD's historic sites will see much-needed improvements, as well.
In east Texas at Mission Tejas State Historic Site, the fire-damaged headquarters will be demolished and removed, and existing restroom in the picnic/day use area and campgrounds will be renovated. More than $1 million in wastewater treatment system replacement and repairs are slated at San Jacinto Battlegrounds.
At Longhorn Cavern, workers will be replacing the old cavern lighting system originally installed in 1938 along 6,000 feet of passages. The total cost of the repairs is estimated at more than $700,000.
TPWD construction crews already have repaired and repainted historic structures at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site near Stonewall, and are renovating the Danz log cabins and will soon start on making the park's visitors center, bath house and comfort stations ADA-compliant.
Stover expects all state park repair projects to be completed by the end of next summer. In the meantime, he notes, TPWD recently received Legislative Budget Board and other state bonding agency approvals of $38 million in planned FY10-11 general obligation bond projects that will address other repair needs at state parks, fish hatcheries, wildlife management areas and support infrastructure.
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