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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-03-23                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a month old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 23, 2017
Twelfth Annual Texas-National Archery Championship Draws Record 2,174 Children, 85 Schools to Belton
AUSTIN - More than 2,100 students from 85 schools across Texas are gathered at the Bell County Expo Center this week for the 12th annual Texas-National Archery in the Schools (NASP) Tournament and Scholarship Championship. Participants in the two-day event that starts today, range from grades 4-12 and are competing for college scholarships.
"NASP is the Swiss army knife of school activities because almost any student can participate and succeed," says Burnie Kessner, Archery Coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "NASP fits all school sizes and shapes from small to large to public to private and the state tournament will be attended by students from small rural schools, large urban campuses and even homeschooled students. Competitions are unique because teams are mixed-gender by rule. Forty-two percent of participants registered this year are female."
This year, a record 2,174 students are participating.
"This year is a milestone year for the state NASP competition because we'll have over 2,000 students shooting for the first time," says Kessner. "The first state tournament was in February 2006 and there were 126 students from 9 schools. Now 168 students will shoot every hour and 15 minutes for two days!"
This year, college scholarship awards totaling $30,000 will be awarded to the top five male and top five female high school archers. First place is $4,000, second is $3,500, third is $3,000, fourth is $2,500 and fifth place is $2,000 for both the males and the female winners. The Texas-NASP state tournament has awarded $151,500 to the top high school student archers since the inaugural state tournament in 2006.
First place male and female archers in each division also receive Genesis bows, and the high scoring male and female archer will receive a limited edition Genesis bow. Other competitors will be vying for trophies, ribbons and t-shirts in each category. Door prize drawings will also take place throughout the day.
Only schools that teach TX-NASP archery as part of their in-school curriculum and shoot a qualifying score in the State Qualifying Tournament are eligible to compete in the annual March tournament. More than 2,673 students from 101 Texas schools participated for a chance to move on to state.
First place teams in each division are automatically qualified to attend the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. Additional teams may attend with qualifying team scores along with 1st-10th place male and female individual winners in each division.
NASP® is a nonprofit foundation operating through financial support from a variety of generous donors including medal-level sponsors; Mathews Archery, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Morrell Targets, The Block and Rinehart Targets.
Toyota is the primary sponsor of TX-NASP and the program is part of the state's hunter and bowhunter education efforts, programs supported from the sales of archery equipment through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act..
For information about the Texas-National Archery In The Schools program, contact Burnie Kessner with TPWD at burnie.kessner@tpwd.texas.gov or (979) 862-7341.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 23, 2017
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Unabridged Violation
Game wardens in Limestone and Freestone counties filed cases on multiple individuals for fishing from a bridge in clear violation of signs indicating the act was illegal. They were using a cast net to catch crappie, an illegal means and method for taking game fish in Texas. The netters were also in possession of undersized crappie and had no fishing licenses. In addition to citations, the individuals were educated on species identification and the definition of fishing.
One Too Many Trips to the Well
A Montgomery County game warden apprehended an individual trespassing on a deer lease, but the subject wasn't there to poach, at least not wildlife. Seems he trespassed with the intent to illegally dump a boat. The subject was arrested for criminal trespassing and for driving with an invalid license. After booking the subject into jail, the warden drove to the address on the subject's vehicle registration and found three deer feeders in the backyard that matched the description of ones reported stolen from the deer lease several weeks earlier. After receiving consent to search the residence from the subject's mother, the warden discovered two stolen game cameras and a stolen ATV, both of which were also recovered. Additional criminal charges pending.
Can't Outrun the Law
A Grimes County game warden found himself in a rundown after responding to a crash site on Highway 6 where a driver fled the scene on foot to a nearby ranch. The suspect was discovered hiding behind a barn and following a short foot pursuit, the warden, along with Grimes County sheriff's deputies, made an arrest. Driver impairment is believed to be the cause of the accident. Charges are pending.
Stopping a Dump Truck
Live Oak County game wardens completed a two month investigation stemming from complaints by concerned hunters about the illegal dumping of deer and hog carcasses off a bridge near their hunting lease. The wardens set up remote surveillance on the site by mounting a game camera on a nearby tree, but several weeks passed with no activity. In early January when the wardens checked the bridge they observed two recently harvested white-tailed doe carcasses, one recently harvested hog carcass, a bucket full of guts, and several feed bags that had been dumped. Upon checking the camera, the time stamp indicated that the dumper had been there just a few hours before the wardens arrived. The images clearly showed the individual stopping on the bridge and exiting his truck. His truck bed was full of feed bags and deer/hog carcasses. As the vehicle left the bridge, the last game camera photo showed an empty truck bed. The wardens collected evidence and noticed that each doe carcass had one small caliber entry wound in the head they believed to be from .22 caliber bullets. Based on the images captured, wardens were able to locate a residential address for the vehicle and interviewed the individual at his residence where it was determined that he had dumped deer/hog carcasses at the same place for over 15 years. When asked who shot the deer that were dumped, he informed the wardens that it was his son and nephew. His nephew, who lived out of state and did not have a valid non-resident hunting license, had harvested a 6 point buck. Inspection of the father and son's hunting license indicated only one buck tag missing. In total, two bucks and two doe were harvested by the son. The father admitted that he allowed his son to shoot the does in the head with a .22 caliber rifle and that they rarely tag deer. A total of 11 cases were filed along with civil restitution.
Caught in a Cast Net
Game wardens have been actively pursuing cast net violations at the Lake Somerville spillway. An OGT (Operation Game Thief) hotline tip lead local wardens to catch several groups of violators over the first few days of March. The violators were intentionally cast netting and possessing game fish. Numerous cases have been filed.
Next Time Buy a Hunting License
Game wardens routinely check tags and other documentation at local deer processors and taxidermists in their district. Toward the end of the deer season, Willacy County wardens discovered nine white-tailed bucks and one white-tailed doe harvested by two different hunters who failed to purchase Texas hunting licenses. Contact was made with the local landowners and the two hunters. Several white-tailed deer were seized and multiple citations issued. Cases and restitution totaling over $10,000 are pending.
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[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 23, 2017
Fungus that Causes White-nose Syndrome in Bats Detected in Texas
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, David Eisenhauer, 413-253-8492, david_eisenhauer@fws.gov
Bat Conservation International, Micaela Jemison, 703-386-6631, mjemison@batcon.org
Texas A&M AgriLife, Kathy Wythe, 979-845-1862, KPWythe@ag.tamu.edu
The fungus that causes deadly white-nose syndrome (WNS) in hibernating bats has been detected in Texas for the first time. The syndrome has killed millions of bats in the eastern parts of North America, raising national concern. A coalition of groups in Texas is continuing work to monitor the spread of the problem and is seeking willing landowners who could help scientists locate and access bat caves.
The fungus was detected on species of hibernating bats in six North Texas Counties: Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Hardeman, King, and Scurry. The three species are tri-colored bat, cave myotis, and Townsend's big-eared bat. This is the first detection of the fungus on both cave myotis and Townsend's big-eared bats. The Townsend's big-eared bat has an isolated subspecies in the East, the Virginia Big Eared Bat that has already tested positive for the fungus.
Samples were collected between Jan. 11 and Feb. 22 by biologists from Bat Conservation International (BCI) and Texas A&M University's (TAMU) Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, and analyzed as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project led by University of California at Santa Cruz. Surveys of sites in seven other counties in 2017 did not detect the fungus -- those counties are Coryell, Freestone, Leon, Panola, San Saba, Shelby, and Wheeler.
White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) and is responsible for the deaths of millions bats in the United States and Canada. It has been expanding in all directions since its discovery in New York in 2007. In some states, there have been declines in winter bat numbers of greater than 90 percent.
"There is still hope for bats in Texas," said Jonah Evans, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state mammologist. "The fungus thrives in colder climates and it remains to be seen if WNS will have the same serious impacts in Texas as it has in northern states. Additionally, 20 of the 32 species of bats in Texas do not regularly hibernate and we are hopeful they will not suffer significant population declines. We will continue working with cooperating landowners and researchers to implement the best management tools available to conserve these species."
Bats play an important role in the ecosystem by consuming large numbers of insects. Recent studies have shown that the agricultural value of insect control by bats is $1.4 billion annually in Texas alone. This value includes reduced crop loss to insect pests, reduced spread of crop diseases, and reduced need for pesticide application.
White-nose syndrome does not infect humans and is only known to affect hibernating bats. The fungus thrives in cold, humid environments and invades the skin of bats, disrupting their hibernation and depleting their fat stores. Migratory Mexican free-tailed bats, which roost in the millions at popular sites such as Bracken Bat Cave, the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, and Old Tunnel State Park, do not hibernate for long periods during the winter, and are not expected to be at high risk for the disease. Although there is no known cure for white-nose syndrome, wildlife disease experts are actively working on several treatments to help improve survival.
Today's announcement of Pd in Texas brings the total number of states with the fungus to 33. Of those states, 30 have been confirmed with white-nose syndrome.
"This discovery is significant because it occurs where the ranges of eastern, southern, and western bat species intersect, and two of these bats have extensive distributions in Central America and the West - beyond the current range of the disease," said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who leads a coalition of more than 100 state, federal, and international governments agencies, academics, and non-governmental organization working to defeat white-nose syndrome. "While we don't know how new species of western hibernating bats will respond to the fungus, we are concerned about this move into the West."
While scientists are disappointed by the detection of Pd in Texas, its arrival is not unexpected. The fungus was detected in Oklahoma in 2015 and Arkansas in 2014. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has closely coordinated with state and federal agencies as the fungus has spread toward the state. TPWD has worked with BCI to monitor Panhandle caves for the disease since 2011 and in 2015 TPWD funded a statewide project through TAMU aimed at early detection of the disease and describing bat populations before white-nose syndrome arrives.
Nationally, Coleman said the partners in the international response are working to develop tools to manage WNS and improve bat survival. Management solutions are in development to slow the spread of Pd to unaffected areas, improve the survival of bats in newly affected areas, and promote recovery of populations decimated by WNS. Treatment options that could be deployed in some affected areas in the future are also a research focus of the international response team.
TPWD is working with researchers at TAMU to survey caves with hibernating bats. They are asking for willing landowners for help locating and accessing bat winter roosts and caves for tracking the spread of the fungus. Those with knowledge of such sites are asked to contact TPWD at 512-389-4505.
Wildlife experts say cavers and landowners with caves can help prevent human assisted spread of the fungus by requiring cave visitors to abide by the decontamination protocols described at: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/topics/decontamination.
For more information about WNS, visit: whitenosesyndrome.org/.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 23, 2017
Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission Awards $15.86 Million in Local Park Grants to Texas Communities
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved close to $16 million in competitive local park grants to help fund projects that will create and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities like nature trails, urban gardens, playgrounds with full accessibility, dog parks, splash pads and sports fields at 37 community parks across the state.
The grants allocate to local government entities appropriated state and federal funding dedicated for the acquisition and/or development of public recreation areas and facilities in Texas on a 50/50 reimbursement match basis. Once funded, all grant assisted sites must be dedicated as parkland in perpetuity, properly maintained and open to the public.
The commission, which administers the local parks grant program for the State of Texas, awarded projects in various categories based on community population size and scope. Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants are reserved for cities having populations exceeding 500,000, with projects in five communities receiving grants. The Non-Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants are dedicated to funding park projects in municipalities under 500,000 and the commission approved awards to projects in 13 communities. The Small Community Recreation Grants are for park projects in towns of less than 20,000 and were awarded to 13 communities. Urban Indoor Grants are given to communities with populations exceeding 500,000 and were awarded to two communities. Non-Urban Indoor Grants are given to municipalities with a population less than 500,000 and were awarded to four communities.
For more information about the local park grants program, visit the TPWD local park grants page.
The grant funds awarded are listed below by region:
Austin
Austin will receive a $500,000 urban indoor grant for its Dove Springs Recreation Center project. The funds will be used to expand and renovate the existing site. Proposed developments include a commercial kitchen renovation, new fitness room with equipment, new activity room with furnishings, computer lab, upgraded accessibility, offices, fixtures, exterior landscaping, utilities and building systems.
Austin is the recipient of a $1 million urban outdoor grant for its Emma Long Metropolitan Park project. Proposed development includes trails, shoreline restoration, pavilions with picnic tables, boat launch improvements, entry state improvements, parking and driveway renovations, utilities and signage.
Florence has been awarded a $319,550 non-urban outdoor grant towards its city park pool renovation project. Proposed development for this project includes the renovation of a swimming pool with a cooling deck and outdoor showers, a renovated basketball court, shaded playground, picnic tables, grills, bleachers, sand volleyball court, rain catchment and native landscaping with drip irrigation.
Granite Shoals has received a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for a multipurpose sports facility in Burnet County. The proposed development includes a two acre dedicated natural area, a sheltered facility for soccer, basketball, volleyball, shuffleboard, pickle ball and bleachers, a baseball field, picnic tables, a playground, trails, a scent garden, fencing, utilities and park lighting.
Hutto has been awarded a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Creekside and Fritz Park enhancement project. Proposed development includes renovation of youth ball fields with irrigation, parking lot, soccer and ball field lighting picnic tables, botanical garden with solar lighting and drip irrigation at Creekside Park. Fritz Park's improvements feature an all-inclusive playground with shade shelter and recirculating splash pad.
Lago Vista is the recipient of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Lago Vista Park and open space project. The funds will support the use of about 33 acres of publicly owned non-parkland and develop 23.24 acres for Lago Vista Park. The proposed development for the site includes 10.2 acres of dedicated open space, trails, baseball field, softball field, playground, sand volleyball court, soccer field, picnic tables, benches and scent garden.
Rockdale will receive a $75,000 small community grant for its Sumuel Park project. Proposed developments for the site includes a splash pad with recirculating water system.
Taylor has been awarded a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant toward its Heritage Park and skate park project. Proposed developments for the park include a skate park, amphitheater, splash pad, shade structures, benches, picnic tables, landscaping with drip irrigation, interpretive signs, fitness course, art wall, solar lighting and walkways.
Williamson County is the recipient of a $750,000 non-urban indoor grant for its Williamson County interpretive center project. The funds will be used to support the development of a nature interpretive center in River Ranch County Park. The proposed developments includes a 3,100 square foot building with a classroom, exhibit space and displays, interpretive signs, outdoor classroom with fireplace on the porch, meeting space, reference library, office and restrooms.
Dallas
The Denton County Freshwater Supply District 10 are the recipients of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Arrow Brooke Park project. The funds will be used to acquire 6.3 acres by donation to develop Arrow Brooke Park. The proposed developments include a playground with shade structure, picnic tables, baseball field, football field, soccer field, trails, fitness stations, native prairie restoration with drip irrigation, benches, fishing dock, butterfly garden, riparian plantings, landscaping and irrigation system.
Hico will receive a $31,250 small community grant for its city park project. Proposed developments include a garden area, playground with swings, renovation of the pavilion, benches, picnic tables and horseshoe pit.
Rice will receive a $75,000 small community grant toward its Mike Dickens Memorial Park project. Proposed developments includes a butterfly garden, benches, walkway, native plants, gazebo, play area, interpretive signage, batting cages, awnings, playground canopies, playscape renovations, picnic tables and renovation of baseball, softball, football and soccer fields.
North Richland Hills has been awarded a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Northfield Park project. Proposed developments include lighted softball fields, lighted baseball field, sand volleyball courts, lighted tennis courts, playground, basketball court, pavilion, trails, landscaping, picnic tables, benches, rainwater collection system and drip irrigation.
West was awarded a $31,250 small community grant for its city park project. The project will support the rebuild of 3.73 acre City Park. Proposed developments include a nature trail, lighted walking trail, lighting for tennis and baseball courts and native landscaping.
East Texas
Athens will receive a $75,000 small community grant for its O.D. Baggett Park project. Proposed developments include a sand volleyball court, pavilion, park lighting, picnic tables, benches, grills, park lighting, playground improvements, the decommissioning of the pool and renovation of the basketball courts and baseball fields.
De Kalb was awarded a $72,330 small community grant for its city park project. Proposed developments include a playground, picnic tables, benches, native landscaping and renovations to the baseball and soccer fields.
Houston
Harris County is the recipient of a $1 million urban outdoor grant for its Alabonson Sports and Nature Center project located in northwest Houston. Proposed development for the project includes a football field, softball fields, a soccer field, pavilion with picnic tables, playground, cable run for the blind, native landscaping, irrigation, utilities and bike racks.
Harris County will receive a $1 million urban indoor grant toward development of the John Paul's Landing Environmental Education Center. Proposed developments includes the 7,855 square foot facility with furnishing and equipment, utilities, road and parking.
Houston was awarded an urban outdoor grant of $1 million for its Avondale Promenade Park project. Proposed development for the park include a community plaza, pedestrian promenade, pavilion, landscaping with irrigation, interpretive signs, playground, picnic tables, benches, porch swings, dog park, bird roost, utilities and fencing.
The Lavaca Navidad River Authority will receive a $475,559 non-urban indoor grant for its community nature education center project. Proposed development includes a 3,885 square foot building with an exhibit hall, kitchen, meeting rooms, commons area, office and restrooms.
The Timber Lane Utility District is the recipient of a $750,000 non-urban indoor grant for its community center project in Cypress Creek Park. The proposal will includes a 20,000 square foot community center with meeting and event space, educational displays and library, classroom, greenhouse, boardwalk deck, restrooms, maintenance building, storage space and offices.
Panhandle
Bovina has been awarded a $42,580 small community grant for its Arnold Park project. The funds will support the development of a sidewalk at the park.
Floydada was the recipient of a $75,000 small community grant for its Annie Taylor Park project. Proposed development includes a playground, picnic tables, benches, a parking lot, concession building and softball field renovations including fencing, bleachers and awnings.
Levelland will receive a $35,000 small community grant for the playgrounds project at L.G. Grifin Park and Kauffman Park. The proposed developments includes a playground for each park.
Rotan has been awarded a $75,000 small community grant for its Ed Patton Memorial Park project. Proposed development includes an all-inclusive playground.
The city of Slaton was the recipient of the $499,750 non-urban outdoor grant for its Compress Lake Park project. Proposed development for this project includes improvements to the existing lake, fishing piers, shelter with picnic tables, lighted pavilion, lighted trail, lighted playground, natural play area, lighted skate park, benches, pedestrian bridge, native landscaping and restrooms.
Rio Grande Valley
Brownsville will receive a $277,164 non-urban indoor grant for its senior recreation center project. Proposed development includes the remodel of a 2,796 square foot building for a demonstration kitchen, multi-use recreation area and restrooms.
Combes was the recipient of a $27,750 small community grant for its Combes Community Park project. Proposed developments includes a playground with accessible playground equipment, exercise equipment, picnic tables, grills, trash bins and picnic shelters.
Edcouch has been awarded a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its community park project. This funds will support the development of 2.6 acres leased from Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District. The proposed development includes a playground with accessible elements, trails, native landscaping with drip irrigation, splash pad with recirculating water system and shade shelter, pergola, adult swing, wheelchair swing, group shelters with picnic tables, grills, rainwater collection systems, solar lighting, community garden, exercise stations, T-ball field, mini soccer field and parking.
Los Indios will receive a $75,000 small community grant for its community park project. Proposed developments includes renovation of the existing basketball court, adding a pavilion and fitness equipment area, landscaping and interpretive signs.
Mercedes was the recipient of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its sports complex community park project. Proposed development includes sheltered picnic units, playground with universal equipment, soccer fields, pavilions, restroom and equipment building, a basketball court, rainwater harvesting system and drip irrigation.
Port Isabel will receive a $75,000 small community grant for its Washington Park project. Proposed developments include renovation of the existing basketball court with a pavilion and exercise equipment area, fencing, landscaping, interpretive signs and a barbecue pit.
Port Isabel was the recipient of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Arturo Galvan Coastal Park project. Proposed development includes habitat restoration, nature trail, benches, interpretive signs, picnic tables with grills, bird blind, playground, a renovated paddling launch and parking.
San Antonio
Bexar County was the recipient of an urban outdoor grant of $1 million for its Hot Wells County Park project. Proposed development for this project includes trails, railroad crossing and entry road, invasive species removal and utilities.
Floresville was awarded a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant towards the second part of its river park project. Proposed development for this project includes a ball field renovation, practice fields, batting cages, football field, splash pad with recirculating water system, amphitheater, inclusive playground, wildlife viewing area and walkways with solar lighting.
West Texas
Del Rio was the recipient of a $500,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its community sports park project. The grant will be used to acquire 30 additional acres to expand upon its existing 11 acre sports park. Other proposed development includes renovation of existing softball and baseball fields, multi-purpose field, a playground, picnic tables, trails, fitness stations and landscaping.
El Paso was awarded an urban outdoor grant of $1 million for its Northeast Regional Park project. The proposed development for this project includes lighted ballfields, a dog park, trails, benches, fitness stations, landscaping, signs and a parking lot expansion.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 23, 2017
Two TPWD Staff Receive National Wild Turkey Federation Awards
AUSTIN-- Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff were recognized by Executive Director Carter Smith as recipients of National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) awards for their outstanding work in various fields at Thursday's meeting in Austin.
Micah Poteet Recognized by NWTF as Wildlife Manager of the Year
Wildlife biologist Micah Poteet from the Pineywoods region has been awarded this year's Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year award by the NWTF for his longstanding and distinguished career in managing the wild turkeys of Texas.
By serving as a technical guidance biologist, Poteet provides insight and direction to other biologists managing close to 14 million acres and 27 East Texas counties about the Pineywoods ecoregion.
He has been involved highly involved in the eastern wild turkey restoration efforts in East Texas and was a key designer of the TPWD's new Eastern Wild Turkey Habitat Sustainability Index. This new approach incorporates habitat evaluations at multiple scales to identify focal landscapes throughout the region, geographic information system evaluations of proposed turkey release sites and on the ground habitat measurements.
Poteet also took the extra initiative to spearhead research efforts examining the behavior of wild turkeys in relation to the scale and season of fire in Texas. This research was executed this past winter with over 80 eastern wild turkeys marked with very high frequency and GPS transmitters.
Game Warden Dean Fitzpatrick Awarded the NWTF Officer of the Year Award
Game warden Dean Fitzpatrick has been recognized as the recipient of this year's NWTF Officer of the Year award. Fitzpatrick currently serves TPWD as a lead overt investigator for the criminal investigation division of special operations within the law enforcement division.
Sgt. Fitzpatrick has taken a lead role investigating numerous critical incidents, threats on employees and theft related cases involving department equipment.
A 19 year veteran of the law enforcement division, Fitzpatrick has become a respected and active member of his community. Outside of his roles at TPWD, he spends his free time supporting the local youth baseball program as a coach and league president.
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