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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2014-08-21                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four months 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]
Aug. 21, 2014
Texas Sets Waterfowl Seasons for 2014-15
AUSTIN - Duck populations are the highest since North American surveys began in 1955, and as a result Texas will enjoy for the 20th consecutive year the most liberal waterfowl hunting season framework allowable.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved waterfowl seasons for Texas at its Thursday, Aug. 21 public hearing in Houston.
Good news of record-setting waterfowl populations, with nearly all species numbering above the long term goals identified in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, sets the table for the 2014-15 hunting season in Texas.
"Waterfowl are doing well," Dave Morrison, Small Game Program Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told commissioners. "This is the 20th straight year we've been in a liberal framework for waterfowl seasons. That's unheard of."
The commission retained a staggered split between the North and South Zones to allow for the opportunity of an additional week for those duck hunters who travel between zones.
In the only change in bag limits this season Texas waterfowlers can take only one canvasback daily.
The possession limits for all migratory game birds is three times the daily limit. For ducks, including teal during the early Sept. 13-28 season, the possession limit is 18.
Following are the adopted season dates and limits for the 2014-15 migratory game bird seasons:
Ducks
--High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Youth: Oct. 18-19; Regular: Oct. 25-26 and Oct. 31 -- Jan. 25; "Dusky" Duck: Nov. 3 -- Jan. 25.
--South Zone: Youth: Oct. 25-26; Regular: Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 -- Jan. 25;"Dusky" Duck: Nov. 6-30 and Dec. 13 -- Jan. 25.
--North Zone: Youth: Oct. 25-26 ; Regular: Nov. 1 -- Dec. 7 and Dec. 20 -- Jan. 25;"Dusky" Duck: Nov. 6 -- Dec. 7 and Dec. 20 -- Jan. 25.
Bag Limit: 6/day in the aggregate to include no more than 3 wood ducks, 3 scaup, 5 mallards, of which only 2 may be hens, 2 redheads, 2 pintail , 1 canvasback, 1 "dusky duck" (mottled, black or Mexican-like) after the first 5 days. Mergansers: 5/day with no more than 2 hooded merganser. Coots: 15/day
Geese
--East Zone: Light Geese Nov. 1 -- Jan. 25, Canada Geese Nov. 1 -- Jan. 25; White-fronted Geese: Nov. 1 -- Jan. 11; Light Geese Conservation Order Jan. 26 -- Mar. 22.
Bag Limit: 3 Canada geese, 2 White-fronted geese, 20 light geese (no possession limit).
--West Zone: Light Geese Nov. 1 -- Feb. 1; Dark Geese Nov. 1 -- Feb. 1; Light Geese Conservation Order Feb. 2 -- Mar. 22.
Bag Limit: 5 dark geese with no more than one white-fronted goose, 20 light geese (no possession limit)
Sandhill Crane
--Zone A: Nov. 1- Feb. 1.Bag Limit: 3.
--Zone B: Nov. 21-Feb. 1. Bag Limit: 3.
--Zone C: Dec. 20 -Jan. 25. Bag Limit: 2.
Falconry
--North and South Duck Zones: Jan. 26 -- Feb. 9.
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[ Note: This item is more than four months 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]
Aug. 21, 2014
Powderhorn Ranch Becomes Largest Conservation Investment in Texas History
Donations used for Landmark $37.7 Million Acquisition
HOUSTON -- A multi-partner coalition including the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Foundation today announced the purchase of the 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch along the Texas coast in Calhoun County. The acquisition will conserve a spectacular piece of property that is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled coastal prairie in the state. At $37.7 million it is the largest dollar amount ever raised for a conservation land purchase in the state and represents a new partnership model of achieving conservation goals in an era of rapidly rising land prices. In years to come, Powderhorn Ranch is expected to become a state park and wildlife management area.
Safeguarding this natural treasure has been contemplated for more than 30 years by several conservation organizations and wildlife agencies including The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), these organizations are playing a critical role in the acquisition and long-term conservation of this property. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is spearheading the fundraising for the $50 million project, which includes the purchase of the property, habitat restoration and management, as well as a long-term endowment.
"This transformational project will conserve irreplaceable wildlife habitat and will bring the people of Texas an exciting new recreational opportunity," said Dan Friedkin, Chairman Emeritus of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. "This historic investment is only possible because of this extraordinary public/private partnership and is a bold example of how landscape scale conservation projects can be achieved in Texas and beyond." Friedkin also serves as chairman of the Foundation's "Keeping it Wild: The Campaign for Texas" which includes funding for Powderhorn.
The real estate transaction has been more than two years in the making. Powderhorn Ranch was previously owned by Cumberland & Western Resources, LLC, whose primary investors are conservation-minded citizens who sold the property below its market value to ensure its permanent safekeeping.
"The acquisition of Powderhorn Ranch will help define the next generation of conservation in Texas," said TPW Commission Chairman Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. "We are most grateful to the owners for affording us both the time to put this project together, as well as a discount on the purchase price in order to facilitate this transaction. The seller's commitment to a conservation outcome was instrumental in seeing this through to a successful culmination."
A significant portion of the funding for the project is being provided by NFWF's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was created with dollars paid by BP and Transocean in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NFWF has committed $34.5 million over the next three years, making this the biggest land acquisition in the nation so far using BP spill restoration dollars.
"The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is proud to be part of this remarkable conservation effort along the Texas Gulf Coast. The size and diversity of species and habitat found on the Powderhorn Ranch make it an integral project in the overall recovery process of the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "The combined effort of so many groups exemplifies the tremendous cooperative effort necessary to protect and restore wildlife and habitat."
The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy of Texas are each providing $10 million in interim funding so the Powderhorn Ranch can be purchased in 2014. The two organizations will be reimbursed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, who will hold title on the property by the end of 2016, and will ultimately turn it over to TPWD. The project exemplifies a new model of funding conservation projects in Texas and is a demonstration of both public and private entities working together for the long-term benefit of Texas and its citizens.
"The unspoiled and irreplaceable Powderhorn Ranch is now a significant property for all Texans, and a protected national treasure," said The Conservation Fund's CEO, Larry Selzer. "A unique and innovative collaboration among public and private organizations has preserved a critical coastal landscape of epic size and scale for generations to come."
The acquisition will protect in perpetuity unspoiled coastal land with forests of coastal live oak and intact wetlands. This range of habitats is perfect for public hunting, fishing, hiking, paddling and bird watching. These nature tourism activities currently bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the Texas coast. The property also includes thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes that offer vital fish and wildlife habitat, provide natural filtering to improve water quality and shield people and property from storm surges and sea level rise. From the 1950s to the early 1990s Texas lost more than 200,000 acres of coastal wetlands. The Powderhorn acquisition helps combat this trend, protecting local economies, people and property as well as wildlife. The ranch includes more than eleven miles of tidal bay front on Matagorda Bay and provides habitat for hundreds of species of birds and animals, including the endangered whooping crane. The Nature Conservancy will hold a permanent conservation easement on the property and will provide habitat management for the first two years through a contract with the TPW Foundation.
"The Gulf of Mexico is the hardest working body of water in the country, but it desperately needs nourishment. We have steadily stripped away its natural defenses, endangering wildlife, nature and the millions of residents who live in coastal communities," said Laura Huffman, Texas state director for The Nature Conservancy. "This investment in Powderhorn Ranch protects the best of the last coastal prairies left in Texas and stitches together a network of protected lands that are vital to the resilience and health of the Gulf Coast."
The TPW Foundation has raised $43 million toward the $50 million project so far, including the NFWF commitment. Earlier this month, the Knobloch Family Foundation made a generous $2 million contribution to support the acquisition.
"We are honored to help Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation purchase Powderhorn Ranch and safeguard this important piece of coastal land," said Carl W. Knobloch, Jr., President of the Knobloch Family Foundation. "We share the Foundation's steadfast commitment to conserving America's ecologically critical open lands so they can be enjoyed for generations to come."
Additional contributions are welcome and interested donors can contact Anne Brown at the TPW Foundation for more information at 214-364-5362 or abrown@tpwf.org.
Media link to press kit, videos, and photos: http://tpwd.texas.gov/powderhornnews
About the Partners
Founded in 1991, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is the non-profit funding partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The mission is to provide private support to help the Department manage and conserve the state wildlife, habitat, recreations areas and cultural resources. Since its inception, that Foundation has raised more than $90 million to help ensure that all Texans, today and in the future, can enjoy the wild things and wild places of Texas. Its current campaign, Keeping It Wild, aims to raise more than $100 million in private funds for transformational projects that advance the state's proud traditions of conservation, stewardship, and outdoor recreation. Learn more at www.tpwf.org. Media contact: Laurey Peat, Laurey Peat + Associates, (214) 871-8787, lpeat@lpapr.com
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation's wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, the Foundation directs public conservation dollars to pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. As one of the largest conservation funders in the world, NFWF supports hundreds of science-based, results-oriented projects that bring new solutions to the country's biggest conservation challenges. Across the U.S., NFWF funds projects to save imperiled species, promote healthy coasts, forests and grasslands, and guarantee water for wildlife and people. With federal, state and local agencies and corporate partners, NFWF finds common ground between the public and private sectors to achieve positive conservation results. Learn more at www.nfwf.org. Media contact: Cheryl Irwin, (202) 857-0166, cheryl.irwin@nfwf.org
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than seven million acres nationwide including more than 193,000 acres of beloved natural lands across Texas, like at Big Thicket National Preserve, Fort Davis National Historic Site, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, and along the Neches River and the Gulf Coast. www.conservationfund.org Media contact: Ann Simonelli, (703) 908-5809, asimonelli@conservationfund.org
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To date, the Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide and the operation of more than 100 marine projects globally. In the Lone Star State, The Nature Conservancy owns more than 30 nature preserves and conservation properties and assists private landowners to conserve their land through more than 100 voluntary land-preservation agreements. With public and private partners, we have permanently conserved nearly one million acres across Texas. Visit The Nature Conservancy in Texas on the Web at www.nature.org/texas Media contact: Vanessa Martin, (512) 623-7249, vmartin@tnc.org
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mission balances outdoor recreation and sustainable use of resources with conservation and management of natural and cultural resources. The department operates 95 Texas state parks, natural areas and historic sites, 46 wildlife management areas, three saltwater fish hatcheries and five freshwater hatcheries. TPWD game wardens and wildlife and fisheries biologists work in every Texas county, enforcing laws and encouraging management to conserve fish and wildlife. The agency has 11 internal divisions: Wildlife, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement, Legal, State Parks, Infrastructure, Communications, Administrative Resources, Human Resources and Information Technology. For more information, see the TPWD website (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) Media contact: Tom Harvey, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov, or Stephanie Salinas, 512-389-8756, stephanie.salinas@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 21, 2014
Eddie Hood Named Midwest Officer of the Year
HOUSTON-- Texas game warden Eddie Hood has been recognized as the Texas Officer of the Year by the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Executive Director, Carter Smith, recognized Hood at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting Thursday in Houston.
Stationed in Clay County since graduating from the Texas Game Warden Academy 22 years ago, Hood is active with public outreach. He collaborates with the Henrietta School District to host annual youth fishing events at a local state park to introduce students to the sport. Hood also helped initiate and organize "Turkey Fest" in Clay County, an event which drew more than 5000 people last year.
The warden is known for his teamwork and initiative in offering training to younger wardens in his district. A prime example of his teamwork was a three-year investigation that he began that eventually included nine other wardens in six counties, as well as 14 state and federal agencies. In this case, charges were filed on two suspects for illegal darting and selling of white-tailed deer, illegal take of mule deer, illegal take of exotic wildlife, and shooting at and striking an aircraft.
Hood also worked a case with game warden Gary Hobbs that involved deer poaching on the Clay/Jack County line. Ranch hands had blocked the poacher's vehicle from leaving the area and the wardens arrived a short time later to interview the four suspects. They soon found that one suspect was still in the brush and was armed. Hood rode in the suspects van with the four men and Hobbs drove off to give the missing subject the impression that the wardens had left. After about an hour of the suspects trying to call their missing friend, the search was called off and the men were taken to jail with the four deer and raccoon they had already taken to be processed. While at the jail, a call came in about a person walking down the highway near the ranch where the other four poachers had been caught. About 10 minutes later, the wardens had their fifth man in custody. All cases and paperwork were completed by 7:30 a.m.-eight-and-a-half hours after responding to the initial call.
In addition to this award, Hood has received two Director's Citations from the Law Enforcement Division. One citation was presented for his efforts in the blizzard of Decemeber 2010 while working with other wardens to assist thousands of stranded motorists in North Texas. The second citation was for his efforts during a flood in Wichita County in 2008 when Hood and Hobbs navigated through high water to rescue numerous individuals from a house.
Begun 70 years ago, the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers is the oldest conservation law enforcement organization in the country. Twenty-nine member agencies from the United States and Canada make up the Midwest area and TPWD has been a member since 1995.
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov, or Stephanie Salinas, 512-389-8756, stephanie.salinas@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 21, 2014
TPWD Employee Named State Boating Educator of the Year
HOUSTON-- Tim Spice, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Boater Education Coordinator, has been selected as the "State Educator of the Year" as well as the "Southern States' Educator of the Year."
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith presented the award to Spice at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting Thursday in Houston.
During the 82nd Legislative session in 2011, House Bill 673 by Rep. Tan Parker required TPWD to produce a video on water safety targeting high school age students. This bill required the video to be placed into the Texas Driver's Education curriculum to be seen by all who take the course.
There was concern from the driver's education community because they felt that their courses were going to become overloaded with the addition of the water safety materials, which they claimed were outside the scope of their courses intent.
"Spice took the helm and was able to navigate through treacherous waters and come to a resolution with the education community by inviting their input while recognizing their desires to keep a concise message and avoid a burdensome product," Smith said.
The second issue Spice had to address was the unfunded mandate created by this bill. Through an extensive network of partners, he rallied the water safety community to back this important initiative and provide the necessary funding to make the project a reality.
In the end, he was able to raise all necessary funds from several non-profit water safety organizations and by June 2013, all participants were gathered at Lake Ray Hubbard for a two-day video shoot where teens and adults told their stories of tragedy, loss, and the vital message of water safety.
"It was important to Spice that the message was effective, that it not be limited to a specific location and that it can be used across the nation," Smith said. "He wanted the message to be global in nature and the title of the project, "Never Happens," hit home in a true sense for the teens who over and over said, "I never thought this would happen to me" while telling their stories."
In August 2013, Spice received notification from NASBLA that the video had been given the "Seal of Safe Boating," which indicates it adheres to the highest standards of boating safety information.
"His leadership in the water safety community is unprecedented," Smith said. "His influence, community spirit, and ability to bring everyone together to make boating safer and safe lives make him an invaluable educator and innovator."
Spice will be competing against two others for the "National Educator of the Year" award, which will be announced in Bar Harbor, Maine at the October NASBLA conference.
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[ Note: This item is more than four months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ ]
Aug. 21, 2014
Game Warden Named "State Officer of the Year" by NASBLA
HOUSTON -- Texas Game Warden John Thorne has been selected as the "State Officer of the Year" and the "Southern States Officer of the Year" by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith presented the award to Thorne at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting Thursday in Houston.
Thorne holds a Master Peace Officers Certificate, issued through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. He also received his masters' degree in fisheries and wildlife science from Texas A&M University- College Station in 1999.
Stationed in Freestone County, Thorne's area includes a portion of the Richland-Chambers Reservoir, covering about 41,000 acres. He is also responsible for enforcement activities along 50 miles of the Trinity River.
As a state game warden, Thorne has encountered a variety of law enforcement scenarios since graduating from the department's training academy in 2002.
He has been involved in about 80 boating while intoxicated and boating under the influence arrests in his 12-year career. Two years into his career, Thorne filed 11 BWI's in one summer. This past summer, he and a less-tenured warden filed five BWI's in one day.
He has also worked with local prosecutors to streamline a protocol for the issuance of search warrants to draw blood from those who refuse to provide a specimen.
Thorne is one of the few trained drug recognition experts in the department. He is also a member of the newly formed TPWD K-9 team, where he has assumed a team lead role.
He has attended boat accident investigation training, which has helped him handle more than 15 boat accidents, two of which involved fatalities with alcohol as a factor and several other non-fatalities that involved drugs and alcohol.
Thorne became a member of the TPWD Law Enforcement Division's Critical Incident Team in 2004 and has used his training numerous times during drowning incidents, boat accidents, officer-involved shootings and most recently to aid first responders following the fertilizer plant explosion in West.
An active member of his community, Thorne continually looks for ways to educate the public about water safety as well as other educational programs offered by TPWD. He routinely takes kids boating, hunting, and fishing in an effort to promote safety and expose them to the outdoors. Thorne is a district leader in offering educational programs at schools, civic clubs, and outdoor oriented organizations.
He was instrumental in coordinating the rescue of two men, a woman and a small child on cedar Creek Lake when their boat capsized in a storm. In wind blowing more than 40 miles per hour, Thorne positioned the patrol boat so that two other wardens could get to those in need.
On another occasion, he helped save the life of a father of a Texas state trooper. The man and a friend became stranded on Lake Palestine after their boat capsized in a storm. The trooper's father tied himself to a stump where he remained for 12 hours. Sadly, his fishing companion had perished before help could come, but one life was saved due to the response of Thorne and the other present game wardens.
Most recently, Thorne and his partner launched a boat into a rain-swollen creek and rescued an elderly couple whose pickup had been washed from the roadway as they were trying to make an early morning doctor's appointment. Due to their age and surroundings, neither could help themselves as the water continued to rise so they sat in the truck seats in chest high water. The two wardens risked life and limb to fight the current and rescue the couple.
Thorne will be competing against two other officers for the "National Officer of the Year" award that will be announced in Bar Harbor, Maine at the October NASBLA Conference.
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