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+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-10-23 | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes. | | It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying | | and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages. | | To copy the text into an editing program: | | --Display this page in your browser. | | --Select all. | | --Copy. | | --Paste in a document in your editing program. | | If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send | | an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Plain Text Pages. | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ [ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, email@example.com ] [SL] Oct. 23, 2013 Special Youth Hunting Season This Weekend AUSTIN -- Young hunters will get the first shots during special youth-only hunting seasons for white-tailed deer, waterfowl and Rio Grande turkey Oct. 26-27. During the statewide special youth-only hunting weekend, licensed youth 16 years of age or younger will be allowed to harvest white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey. The youth-only waterfowl season in the North and South Duck Zones is for licensed youth 15 years of age or younger. A Special Youth Hunting License ($7) is required. General season bag limits for the county hunted apply during the youth-only weekend, but some additional restrictions may apply in certain areas so be sure to check the 2013-14 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations before heading afield. To make room for the new generation of Texas hunters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has made an extra effort to open as much public hunting land as possible to youth hunting on department-managed lands. Youth who are hunting on TPWD lands must be accompanied by a supervising adult 18 years of age or older who possesses the required Annual Public Hunting permit, a valid hunting license and any required stamps and permits. -30- [ 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: Claire Cassel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 703-358-2357, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, (512) 389-4453, email@example.com, Bill Van Pelt, Western Assoc. of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, (623) 236-7573, firstname.lastname@example.org ] Oct. 23, 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endorses Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan Plan Provides Model for State Leadership to Conserve Species Proposed for ESA Listing Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorsed the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, a landmark, collaborative planning effort to conserve a species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The range-wide plan (RWP) represents a dedicated effort by the five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. After an extensive review, the Service found the plan is consistent with criteria proposed last May for conserving the species, which is proposed for listing under the ESA. The plan calls for providing financial incentives to landowners who voluntarily manage their lands to benefit the species. It also includes a framework for mitigating the potentially harmful effects to lesser prairie-chicken habitat from development activity throughout its range. "The unprecedented collaborative efforts of WAFWA and the five state wildlife agencies have produced a sound conservation plan for the lesser prairie-chicken," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "We applaud the states' commitment to lead conservation actions across the bird's range." The Service's endorsement is not a decision by the Service that implementing the plan will preclude the need to protect the lesser prairie-chicken under the ESA. The Service will carefully consider the plan, its implementation and effectiveness when it makes a final determination on whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken under the ESA in March, 2014. Under the plan, agreements with participating landowners will aim to improve habitat conditions for the lesser prairie-chicken, increase populations and provide for long-term conservation of the species. The plan also establishes a framework for mitigating impacts from a wide range of activities with a goal of providing a net conservation benefit to the species. "We are encouraged to see U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorsement of the five-state, range-wide plan to conserve this iconic grassland bird and its native prairie habitat," said Carter Smith, WAFWA president and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, speaking on behalf of WAFWA and the five state agencies. "Years of due diligence have gone into this plan, guided by scientific research and monitoring, and developed with input from landowners, agriculture, wind and oil and gas interests and other stakeholders. We can now work at the local level to implement the plan, facilitate more conservation for the bird while allowing sustainable land use and responsible economic development, and hopefully preclude the need to list this species." In the coming weeks, the Service will revise the May 6, 2013, proposed 4(d) special rule for the lesser prairie-chicken to more specifically identify the range-wide conservation plan as one that, when implemented, will address the conservation needs of the species. If the Service ultimately determines that the lesser prairie-chicken should be listed as a threatened species, the revised 4(d) rule would provide a mechanism for ESA compliance. Linking the plan to a 4(d) special rule would offer participating landowners and industry participants regulatory certainty, as actions carried out in accordance with the plan would be in compliance with the ESA, even if the species requires ESA protection. The lesser prairie-chicken is a species of prairie grouse commonly recognized for its colorful spring mating display and orange eye combs. Once abundant across much of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado (the five range states), the lesser prairie-chicken's historical range of native grasslands and prairies has been reduced by an estimated 84 percent. The substantial decrease in the range of the species is primarily a result of habitat fragmentation and loss caused by development and conversion of the species' native grassland habitat to other uses. Last year, the population declined by an estimated 50 percent, primarily due to drought conditions in the West. America's fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species such as the Working Lands for Wildlife program. To learn more about the Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies was founded in 1922. It currently consists of 23 member states and provinces that have primary responsibility and authority for protecting and managing fish and wildlife in the western United States and Canada. WAFWA promotes the principles of sound resource management, as well as strengthening partnerships and cooperation among local, state, and federal agencies, non-government conservation organizations, and private industry. To learn more about WAFWA and other conservation efforts, and to find a copy of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, please go to www.wafwa.org. The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq , watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfwsand download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq. -30- [ 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: City of Austin Watershed Protection Department: Lynne Lightsey, (512) 974-3538 (Office), (512) 802-7423 (Pager); Wendy Morgan, (512) 974-2090 (Office), (512) 802-7487 (Pager); Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Marcos De Jesus: (512) 353-0072 ] Oct. 23, 2013 Hydrilla in Lake Austin under Control AUSTIN--A vegetation survey of Lake Austin by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in September revealed that the exotic plant hydrilla was finally under control. The survey found no hydrilla. It also documented that 203 acres of aquatic vegetation habitat, mostly Eurasian watermilfoil (milfoil), was still present in the reservoir. In the June 2013 survey, there were 330 acres of hydrilla and 135 acres of milfoil. The successful control of hydrilla was a result of a science-based stocking plan of sterile Asian grass carp, which target hydrilla as their main food source. Hydrilla has been established in Lake Austin since 1999, and this aggressive, invasive plant has posed significant safety concerns as its dense growth has impacted flood flows, water intakes and recreation on the lake. It reached a historic high coverage of over 600 acres in February 2013, due primarily to drought-induced low flows and warmer water temperatures that the plant prefers. With the decline of hydrilla coverage, milfoil, a less aggressive exotic plant, has expanded and is providing critical benefits like aquatic habitat for fish and other wildlife, while helping maintain good water quality and excellent fishing opportunities in this reservoir. It is important to remember that while hydrilla is under control, it is probably not eradicated. Over time, the grass carp population will decline naturally, and hydrilla may re-sprout from its underground tubers. Changes in water flow and temperature may also impact growth rates, so the City and TPWD will continue to monitor Lake Austin vegetation and implement control efforts as needed. Native aquatic vegetation establishment projects, as conducted by the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department, will continue to be supported to supplement aquatic habitat. As always, control measures will consider the interests of all lake users. ***Media Interview Opportunity*** Representatives from the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be available for interviews on Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 10:30 a.m., at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX, 78704. --- On the Net: More information about hydrilla: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/hydrilla -30-