|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-05-06                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than five 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 ]
May 6, 2010
Gary Saul Named TPWD Inland Fisheries Director
AUSTIN -- Gary E. Saul, PhD, has been named director of the Inland Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Saul assumes his new position May 10.
"Gary has done a great job as deputy division director and more recently as acting director. He has demonstrated that he has the knowledge, experience, skills and vision to lead Inland Fisheries into the next decade," said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources. "Gary has earned great respect over the years from his professional colleagues within and outside the agency, from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and from Texas anglers for the work he's done to assure that Texas will always be a great place to go fishing."
Saul has been acting division director since Jan. 1 following the retirement of long-time director Phil Durocher. Prior to that, he had served as deputy division director since 2004.
The Inland Fisheries Division, with 225 employees, manages and protects Texas' freshwater fishery -- a resource that includes a diverse range of freshwater species found in some 800 public lakes covering 1.7 million acres and 191,000 miles of rivers and streams. Nearly 2 million licensed Texas anglers enjoy this resource, in the process contributing $1.5 billion a year to the state's economy on everything from food to fishing tackle.
Saul began his career at TPWD in 1982 as finfish program director in the Coastal Fisheries Division. He held that position until 1986, when he left to teach biology at Texas State University and also worked with a private environmental consulting firm. He returned to TPWD 11 years later, this time in the Inland Fisheries Division, where he steadily advanced.
"Texas freshwater fisheries and this division both enjoy a great national reputation, and I am honored to have the opportunity to work at this level with the talented and dedicated staff in Inland Fisheries," Saul said. "We face many challenges, including assuring the quality and quantity of water as well as maintaining or improving our declining aquatic habitats. We need to enlist anglers and boaters to help us stop the spread of invasive species, including zebra mussels and giant salvinia that can clog waterways, municipal water infrastructure and destroy fishing and boating recreation. We've got plenty of work to do and I am eager to get after it."
A New Jersey native, Saul has a bachelor of science in zoology from North Carolina State University, two master's degrees from Louisiana State University (fisheries, applied statistics), and a doctorate in fisheries and wildlife sciences from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. He and his wife Mary, who is principal of Austin's Alternative Center for Elementary Students, have two children, Katie and Devon.

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[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
May 6, 2010
2010 Lone Star Land Steward Awards Winners Announced
AUSTIN -- When Mother Nature shines as she's done this spring, it makes anyone with a plot of dirt look good. But, it's those times when the rains don't come and the heat turns most of Texas brown and crunchy that a landowner's mettle is put to the test. Those who can keep habitat conditions going in tough times as well as good are true conservation heroes.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Lone Star Land Steward Awards program recognizes those private landowners for excellence in habitat management and wildlife conservation on their lands. The awards also seek to publicize the best examples of sound natural resource management practices and promote long-term conservation of unique natural and cultural resources.
This year's crop of award winners represents broad and sometimes unique conservation goals, from traditional wildlife management alongside livestock operations to conservation missionaries who've taken to the Internet to share their gospel.
Again this year the Lone Star Land Steward Awards are benefiting from a partnership with Sand County Foundation, an international non-profit organization devoted to private lands conservation. The Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be honored this year's award banquet, set for May 26, 2010 at the Austin Airport Marriott South Hotel, and will receive $10,000 and the Leopold crystal award.
The Leopold Conservation Award honors the legacy of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), who is considered the father of wildlife ecology. His collection of essays, "A Sand County Almanac," remains one of the world's best-selling natural history books. Leopold's godson, Reed Coleman, formed Sand County Foundation in 1965 to protect the Leopold farm from encroaching lot development along the Wisconsin River.
The Lone Star Land Steward Awards are sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, H. Yturria Land and Cattle, Texas Wildlife Association, U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Agricultural Land Trust and Llano Springs Ranch, Ltd.
This year's ecoregion winners characterize the unique cultural and natural heritage of Texas. Landowners restoring degraded habitats while conserving flora and fauna are a common thread. Following are summaries of stewardship highlights for each of the ecoregion and category recipients.
Blackland Prairie -- Quebe Farm, Brenham, Washington County; Charlotte von Rosenberg, Owner/Operator
Quebe Farm in Washington County has been owned by the same family for 122 years. Practices such as rotational grazing, prescribed burning, selective removal of invasive species are used to restore and maintain diverse native blackland prairie for a variety of grassland species. A 12-acre prairie remnant on the property that has never been plowed serves as one of the most diverse examples of native blackland prairie in the county. Charlotte von Rosenberg has hosted many educational programs for Texas AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M University, local Master Naturalists, Native Plant Society, Texas Wildlife Association and others. In 2007, she opened a bed and breakfast on the farm to share her dedication and love of the prairie with photographers and nature enthusiasts.
Cross Timbers and Prairies -- Rocosa Ridge Ranch, Meridian, Bosque County; Bruce Berg, Owner/Operator
Rocosa Ridge Ranch is a fine example of how excellent stewardship of a successful livestock operation can increase forage production and species diversity, enhance wildlife habitat, protect endangered species, and improve watershed conditions. Forage monitoring and flexible stocking, rotational grazing, brush sculpting, and a five-to-seven-year prescribed burning rotation all contribute to excellent range condition. The ranch has used NRCS Farm Bill programs and the TPWD Managed Lands Deer Program to enhance habitats and manage deer populations. They also participate in the Fort Hood Recovery Credit System to protect Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat. The ranch has hosted numerous range and wildlife management field days and hunts for youth of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
Edwards Plateau -- Flagler Ranch, Edwards/Real Counties; George G. Matthews, Owner; Louis Scherer III, Operator
In the heart of the Edwards Plateau, Flagler Ranch includes 3,600 acres of limestone hills and draws located along the western edge of the Guadalupe River watershed near Mountain Home-an area locally known as the Divide. Since its purchase in 1992, owner George Matthews has focused on an ecosystem management approach including an aggressive prescribed burning program to control invasive prickly pear and regrowth ash juniper in an effort to repair more than 100 years of range abuse. Commercial whitetail and exotic hunting provides the majority of ranch income-with many of the trophies being of record-book quality. The extensive burning program has improved woody browse structure and diversity on the ranch with approximately 400 acres now deemed suitable nesting habitat for the endangered Black-capped vireo.
Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes -- Lone Oak Ranch, Anahuac, Chambers County; Dave Wilcox and Oliver Smart, Owners/Operators
Proper grazing, prescribed burning, Chinese tallow control, and moist soil management practices are used to enhance both upland and wetland habitats on the Lone Oak Ranch. Providing high quality wintering habitat for waterfowl is an important goal. A number of old rice fields on the ranch have been converted to moist soil impoundments and managed using gravity fed canals to create productive resting and feeding areas for waterfowl. The ranch has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in hosting landowner workshops to demonstrate integration of agriculture and wildlife habitat management. As community leaders, the owners have shown how excellent stewardship can increase biological diversity and improve habitat for waterfowl and migratory songbirds.
High Plains -- Running R Ranch, Muleshoe, Bailey County; Dr. Robert Lepard, Owner; Reggie Johnson, Operator
The Running R Ranch, located in the sandhills of Bailey County, provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including bobwhite and scaled quail, pheasant, and mule deer. The ranch participates in the NRCS special EQIP area for Lesser Prairie Chickens and is working with TPWD in the Managed Lands Deer Program for mule deer. Habitat improvements include cross fencing for grazing management and installation of water lines and guzzlers to provide water for livestock and wildlife. A leader in the community of Muleshoe, Dr. Robert Lepard has opened his ranch for landowner field days, to graduate students at Texas Tech University, and to local high school students seeking summer employment. Stewardship and continuous learning is the goal and the commitment of the Running R Ranch.
Pineywoods -- Ewing Mound, Lufkin, Angelina County; Simon W. Henderson III, Owner/Operator
Ewing Mound is managed primarily for pine timber, with management practices that include thinning stands based on a 50-to-60-year rotation and prescribed burning to enhance herbaceous vegetation. Wildlife goals for the property include producing quality white-tailed deer, reducing feral hogs, enhancing habitat for eastern wild turkey, and managing a small population of bobwhite quail. Historically, part of the sawmill town of Ewing was located on the property. A prominent remnant of this era is the 11-acre "mill pond" and ruins of the sawmill. Simon W. Henderson III is responsible for the creation of the Simon and Louise Henderson Wildlife Research Institute at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University. The property is available to SFA students for research and field trips. Community youth groups are also welcomed.
Rolling Plains -- Mott Creek Ranch, Matador, Motley County; Marisue Potts Powell, Owner/Operator
Mott Creek Ranch is committed to conserving natural resources while balancing the needs of people, cattle and wildlife. Forage production, plant diversity, fawning and nesting cover have improved due to flexible stocking rates, rotational grazing, water development, and brush management. The ranch participates in the TPWD Managed Lands Deer Program for White-tailed and Mule Deer and has enhanced quail habitat and riparian areas through the NRCS EQIP program. Habitat management for wildlife works hand-in-hand with cattle raising, nature tourism and preservation of cultural sites. The ranch has hosted trail rides, educational seminars and archeological excavation as well as mule deer research. According to Marisue Potts Powell, "Conservation . . . makes sense monetarily, aesthetically and morally. It is the right thing to do".
South Texas Plains -- Duval County Ranch, Duval/Webb Counties; David Killam, Owner; David Kitner, Operator
The goals of the ranch are to foster quality habitat conditions for all native South Texas wildlife with emphasis on white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail. Through vision and hard work, David Killam and operator David Kitner have transformed the landscape from an abused rangeland to a healthy ecosystem with flourishing wildlife populations, while maintaining profitability. Grazing management, aeration, and prescribed burning are used to restore and enhance habitat. Supplemental water has been provided throughout the ranch, using polypipe, tanks, and guzzlers. The ranch has hosted several workshops on habitat and water improvements, cooperated in research, and hosted field days for college students. They have also hosted hunts for the Wounded Warriors and Hunts for Heros Organizations as well as the Texas Youth Hunting Program.
Trans Pecos -- Brite Ranch, Valentine, Presidio County; Jane Brite, White Trust, Owner; Jim White, III, Operator
The Brite Ranch is striving to manage the balanced production of livestock and wildlife, with emphasis on mule deer, pronghorn, Carmen Mountain White-tails, desert quail, javelina and small game. Overall rangeland improvement through time is the ultimate management goal of the ranch, providing a diversity of quality habitats for native species while maintaining and improving grazing productivity for cattle. Income from hunting has become increasingly important over the last decades. The ranch is also exploring ecotourism opportunities for birding, geology exploration, and history. Unique features such as Capote Creek headwaters, cienega and falls have been protected by the ranch for over a century, as has the Brite Store, which has remained relatively unchanged since the days of Pancho Villa.
Wildlife Management Association -- Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burning Association, Inc., 20 counties; Dr. Charles A. Taylor, Administrator
The Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burning Association was established in 1997 at the Texas AgriLife Research Station near Sonora. The purpose of the organization is to empower and equip ranchers to manage rangelands using prescribed fire. With more than 500 landowner members, this neighbor-helping-neighbor cooperative has provided the resources, education, and encouragement necessary to help restore fire to rangelands on a sustained basis. The EPPBA was the first burn cooperative in Texas and has been the model for others to follow. Members are encouraged to participate in as many prescribed burns as possible, building an experienced labor force ready to help each other. More than 600 prescribed burns on approximately 500,000 acres have been completed since 1997.
Corporation -- Matador Ranch, Matador, Motley, Dickens, Cottle, Crosby and Floyd Counties; The Matador Cattle Company, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC; Bob Kilmer, Operator
Covering 129,000 acres in five counties, the Matador Ranch has employed all the tools of range and wildlife management to continuously improve the long term health and productivity of its land and water resources. Their goal is to profitably sustain domestic livestock and wildlife in an optimal balance. Rest-rotational grazing systems that control seasonal use, duration, and stock density are used to manage for increased quality and quantity of desirable forage. Strategic brush management has improved riparian areas, enhanced natural springs, and improved nesting cover for turkeys and quail. White-tailed and mule deer are surveyed annually along with quail, feral hogs, javelina, coyotes and turkeys.
Special Recognition -- Fort Sam Houston/Camp Bullis Training Site, U.S. Army, Bexar County; Colonel Mary Garr, Commander; Lucas Cooksey, Biologist
Camp Bullis is the 28,000-acre field training area of Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio. The base has been managing its deer herd, assisted by TPWD, since 1957. Management for endangered birds includes protection of more than 10,000 acres of dense old growth woodland for the Golden-cheeked warbler. Their Karst Management Plan guides efficient management of both cave biology and groundwater recharge. Goals for Camp Bullis include maintaining balanced ecosystems while enhancing military training and readiness. Innovations such as cable concrete water crossings and brush management using the low impact "cedar eater" help reduce erosion in sensitive areas. Camp Bullis also supports a wide range of natural resource research and demonstration.
Special Recognition -- Education and Outreach -- Bear Springs Blossom, Pipe Creek (Bandera), Bandera County; Peter and Marianne Bonenberger
Peter and Marianne Bonenberger found the place they call Bear Springs Blossom Nature Preserve quite by accident; while splitting their time between the Hill Country and their native Germany. A 125-acre island of old-growth juniper woodlands and canyons in eastern Bandera County, the property gets its name from Bear Springs Ranch-founded in 1866. After purchasing 80 acres and moving to the property, the Bonenberger's founded the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Bear Springs Blossom Nature Conservation Group to facilitate their interest in education and outreach. The organization now includes more than 900 members in 8 countries. A conservation easement now offers permanent protection for the entire 125-acre tract. At Bear Springs Blossom, lectures and guided tours are made available on a wide range of natural history topics and environmental issues.

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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 6, 2010
Leave That Wild Animal Alone, Experts Advise
AUSTIN, Texas -- With spring come young, wild animals venturing from their nests and hiding places under the watchful eyes of their parents. Young animals often stray and appear to be abandoned; that's when humans need to resist the urge to help, wildlife experts say.
Some species, including birds, deer and snakes, are very active this time of year and are being seen more frequently.
This is the time of year that young birds are out of their nests but cannot fly. If the bird's eyes are open, it has a coat of feathers and is hopping around, it is probably fine, according to staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife's wildlife information center. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
"Many people discover apparently lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing, and this sometimes does more harm than good," said Mark Klym of the Wildlife Diversity branch at TPWD. "People should leave young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. It is best to observe a wild creature from a distance for a while in order to make that determination."
Staying too close to the baby may keep mamma from returning, Klym said.
The fawning season begins in early to mid-May, although the newborns may not be visible to the casual observer for several weeks because of excellent camouflage of their mottled coats and their mother's care in hiding them from predators.
Deer will typically leave their fawn(s) for hours at a time, returning only to nurse them. Fawns are often discovered lying quietly in tall grass or brushy areas. Well-meaning people sometimes pick up these fawns, thinking that they have been abandoned by their mothers and need help. This is rarely the case.
A fawn should only be picked up if it is covered in fire ants or is otherwise seriously injured. These fawns need assistance and should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
If it is determined that a wild animal is sick or injured call the TPWD wildlife information line, (512) 389-4505, during business hours for a referral to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
After-hours callers can get the names of rehabilitators from TPWD's dispatch line at (512) 389-4848 or by accessing the department's web site.
During the spring, the department receives more than 100 calls a week about baby wildlife.
"Some of the most common questions are whether the fawns are actually abandoned and if baby birds can take care of themselves on the ground," Klym said. "In most cases, the fawns' mothers are just out of sight and the baby birds are still being protected and fed by the parents."
"The overall message is that wildlife should be left alone," said Klym. "Wild animals are best left in the wild."
On the Net:

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[ 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 ]
May 6, 2010
Cedar Hill State Park Keeps Up with the Joneses Through Full-Service Campsites
CEDAR HILL -- In 1854, when John Penn moved into the Cedar Mountains 20 miles southwest of a tiny new community called Dallas, using electricity to run a home was not even an idea, much less an option.
When the site of the Penn family farm became Cedar Hill State Park 137 years later, in 1991, visitors who came by the thousands in RVs were traveling in mobile homes dependent on plentiful electric power to energize their perfect camping experience. The park was ready for them with lots of 30-amp hook-ups, plenty of power for all their equipment.
But only 19 years later, most new RVs require 50 amps to get their occupants through the night with modern conveniences such as microwaves and satellite television. As one of the busiest parks in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system, with 275,000 visitors last year, Cedar Hill can't afford not to keep pace with the changes.
"We will be upgrading the electrical hook-ups from 30-amp to 50-amp in the Lakeview and Eagle Ford camping loops," says project manager Jeff Wurzbach, "and making them full-service loops by adding sewer service. They already have water."
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, early this fall TPWD will be upgrading about 150 sites to 50-amp pedestals and sewer service. Also, in keeping with TPWD efforts statewide to make parks more accessible to all, Cedar Hill's headquarters building will be getting new restrooms that are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.
The approximately $3.5 million in upgrades at Cedar Hill puts another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas, taking the proud veteran of two World Wars out of the corrosive water of the Houston Ship Channel.
Cedar Hill is an extremely successful blend of Texas State Park getaway and near-urban location. Park Superintendent Mike Spradling compares it to Central Park for New York City.
Only 22 miles from downtown Dallas and 28 miles from Fort Worth, it is close enough for an after-work ride on its excellent bike trails or even a long picnic lunch break. The park has more than 200 picnic tables with grills, and three playgrounds. Harried Dallasites can make this quick escape in less than 30 minutes, if traffic cooperates.
But the 355 RV-ready campsites, all close to the shores of 7,500-acre Joe Pool Reservoir, attest to the many folks who consider Cedar Hill worthy of camping. In addition to electricity and water, each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and is near a bathroom and hot shower.
For those hardy campers willing to disdain "new-fangled" electricity, the park also offers 30 primitive sites.
Biking is another of the Cedar Hill's major attractions.
"We have Dallas Off-Road Biking Association trails," says Assistant Park Superintendent Joshua Choate. "DORBA built them in the early 1990s. We have cooperation from them and they do the majority of the maintaining.
"We have two hiking and biking trails. In addition to the five camping loops, we have three day use loops. We've got a full service marina."
Fishing also proves a big draw, and if you don't want to cast from a boat, there are several fishing piers and fish-cleaning stations along the shores of the 1,826-acre park.
Those who appreciate history will be delighted to find that the Penn Farm is still on site, in reconstructed and historic buildings. Daily self-guided tours honor Texas' long and noble farming heritage, and help modern-day folks, city dwellers and rural residents alike, learn about farm life of more than 150 years ago.
The photogenic Penn farm buildings are located in the south section of Cedar Hill State Park, close to the interestingly named Hog Wallow Camping area.
Despite its suburban location this is still an oasis of nature in a concrete-laden environment. Just witness the more than 200 species of birds that have found their way here to be added to the official park list. One of Texas most beautiful and popular birds, the painted bunting, is plentiful in Cedar Hill through most of the summer.
In the shadow of skyscrapers, Cedar Hill State Park offers a true year-round park experience to attract both traveling out-of-state campers and local day visitors.
Watch the Cedar Hill State Park video on YouTube:
For more information, call the park at 972/291-3900 or check the website:

[ Note: This item is more than five 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 ]
May 6, 2010
Buescher State Park Saving CCC History for Future Generations
SMITHVILLE -- For more than seven decades the massive-looking Recreation Hall at Buescher State Park has stood firmly on a hill overlooking the park's lake. Imperceptibly, the historic Civilian Conservation Corps structure has moved -- the result of creep -- three inches downhill.
Still sound and functional, the hall also has been plagued by sticking doors and windows, the result of frame-settling and bowing lintels. Late this summer, Texas Parks and Wildlife will take action to correct those issues and others at the hall.
"We will protect the Recreation Hall for future generations with soldier piers," says project manager Tony Bettis. "These piers are put in side by side by side, creating a subsurface wall structural system. It stabilizes the hillside and keeps the hall from creeping any farther."
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is able to protect and preserve Buescher's historic and stately Recreation Hall. At the same time, TPWD is making the hall more accessible by renovating and enlarging restrooms to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The more than $700,000 in work to save and update the Buescher Recreation Hall is one more check on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas and raise it out of the corrosive waters of the Houston Ship Channel.
After 72 years, the CCC's Recreation Hall remains as beautiful and useful as when it was built.
"The Recreation Hall is a key focus for the park and one of the main draws for groups coming to Buescher," says Lost Pines Complex Superintendent Todd McClanahan. "It's still sought out and utilized by groups and family reunions. We've got one family that has been using the hall for more than 50 years."
The affection for the hall is due in part to its classic park look -- sturdy and rustic with exterior walls and chimney of great rectangular stones. The CCC builders used the same reddish stone for the structures in nearby Bastrop State Park, which, like Buescher, was constructed in the 1930s by companies 1805 and 1811 of the CCC. The Recreational Hall was completed in 1938. The park opened in 1940.
To add ADA-compliant restrooms to the building, TPWD planners worked closely with the Texas Historical Commission to protect the building's historic nature. It was decided to extend a wooden portion of the structure to create the larger turning space and wider doors the ADA-compliant restrooms require.
The massive lintels have bowed a bit over the years, causing doors and windows to stick. They will be straightened out as much as possible. The hall also will get a new wastewater system and a new lift station.
When the project is finished in spring 2010, it will still be the same classic building park visitors have enjoyed for decades, just better. And it will be ready to serve more generations, perhaps for another 72 years.
"It is our duty to protect these historic resources," McClanahan says.
Buescher, pronounced Bisher, is sometimes overlooked in the shadow of its sister park, Bastrop. At just a little more than a thousand acres, it is less than a fifth the size of Bastrop, and its visitation last year, an impressive 46,000, was still less than a third of Bastrop. But park personnel say visitors who return year after year like the slower pace and peaceful nature.
"A big draw is the tranquility out here," says Buescher Superintendent Cullen Sartor. "That's what draws people back. It's laid back and quiet and a lot of people really appreciate that. It is easy to get away. We'll have a full park and it's still quiet. People come for that."
The 20-acre park lake does not allow gas-motors or swimming, but kayak and canoe rentals are available. "Our management goal is to provide a top notch fishing lake," says McClanahan. "The fishing is awesome."
Many guests like to stay in one of the park's three air-conditioned mini-cabins overlooking the lake's western shore, or one of the four screen shelters (one built by the CCC, which also created the lake). Or they pick from dozens of camping sites, including walk-in sites for tent campers and water and electric sites for RVs.
Another draw is the 7  miles of hiking trails. Though most of Buescher is dense hardwoods, as you hike farther north you get into the loblollies of the Lost Pines for which this region is known.
Buescher is 4  miles north of Smithville and 12 miles east of Bastrop. It is just over a two-hour drive from Houston, 125 miles to the east, and an hour from Austin, only 42 miles to the west. Buescher is also connected to Bastrop State Park by winding Park Road 1C, which is entirely inside TPWD right of way. The challenging and scenic ride (10 miles from park border to park border) is a favorite of cyclists and motorcyclists.
For more information, call the Buescher State Park at 512/237-2241 or check the website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/buescher

[ Note: This item is more than five 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 ]
May 6, 2010
Out with the Old, In with the New Shade Shelters at Goose Island State Park
ROCKPORT -- One of Texas' earliest state parks has stood up to the wind, surf and sun for almost 75 years, but now and then the elements start gaining on it. This fall Texas Parks and Wildlife will acknowledge Mother Nature's constant challenge at Goose Island State Park by removing 45 concrete shade shelters worn down from more than 35 years of harsh weather.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, TPWD will then replace the old shelters with 45 new shelters, ready once more to take whatever the Gulf of Mexico -- and thousands of visitors annually -- can throw at them.
"The new shelters will be very similar structurally, but they will be more modern architecturally," says project manager Jessica Davisson.
The installation of the new shade shelters at Goose Island is another item on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas, taking the proud veteran of two World Wars out of the corrosive water of the Houston Ship Channel.
No one knows better than Goose Island Superintendent Stormy Reeves how long and well the old shade shelters served and how much the weather abused them. The first 25 shelters were installed in1969-1970. Reeves came to the park in 1973, in time to see the then final 20 shelters go up in 1973-1974.
"These are pre-cast concrete structures," Reeves says. "The structural steel in them has been rusting for years and that caused some structural failure due to sloughing off of the concrete."
The old shelters have been popular so the new versions will be similar but improved. Designs show a concrete base, two opposed but slightly 'V-ed' (rather than parallel) concrete walls with a shoreline relief design and a sloping concrete roof. Each shelter will have water and electricity, and a wooden table that can be removed if a hurricane threatens.
Goose Island State Park is located, mostly, at the tip of the landmass surrounded by St. Charles, Aransas and Copano bays. A short distance across St. Charles Bay is Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
"Eco-tourism in Texas started here in the Rockport area because of the whooping crane," Reeves says. "We have whooping cranes in and around the park generally from November through April. This is really a great, unique location. We have had tremendous birding opportunities with our spring fallouts. There are over 325 bird species on our park check list."
Because the park has a seawall but no beach or designated swimming area, it's not a prime spot for college students. It primarily attracts older couples and young families. Many come to fish. The park features a 1,620-foot, lighted fishing pier, a boat ramp, a bait stand and fish-cleaning tables.
"Twenty-five percent of the sport fishing on the Texas coast happens here in the Aransas Bay system," Reeves says. "People fish off the shoreline or use boats."
Goose Island is located 10 miles north of Rockport and 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. It totals 321 acres, about 150 acres on Goose Island itself, where the shade shelters are located. Another 90 acres, on the mainland, form the section called the Wooded Area, which has 57 electric and water campsites and 25 non-electric sites.
Another 60 acres is right of way on Park Road 13, which goes about 1  miles to one of the park's premiere features, The Big Tree.
"The Big Tree is the state champion coastal live oak tree" says Reeves proudly. "It was named that in 1969 by the Texas Forest Service. It's estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. It's our icon."
Like most of Texas earliest state parks, Goose Island was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The CCC-built Recreation Hall is still here.
"They constructed that with bricks made from oyster shells," Reeves says. "They call it shell-crete, where they mix concrete with already crushed oyster shell for the aggregate."
But the state showed an interest in Goose Island years earlier. In 1927 it reserved land for a future park-like project at this location. Eight decades later, Texans are still enjoying Goose Island's many pleasures.
Watch the official Goose Island State Park video on YouTube:
For more information, call the park at 361/729-2858, or visit the website: