|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-03-08                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SA]
March 8, 2004
3rd Annual Crab Trap Cleanup Clears More Than 3,000 Traps
AUSTIN, Texas -- With the close of the third annual crab trap cleanup, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and hundreds of volunteers have removed at least 3,571 abandoned or lost traps from the Texas coast, with a few results still coming in. The number is a slight dip from last year's total of 3,838.
"There are fewer traps to be found because of past efforts, but there are still traps out in bays that we still need to get to," said Art Morris, crab trap cleanup coordinator. "We have removed roughly 15,500 traps during the three cleanups and the bays are looking better and better all the time. Thanks to the volunteers, we're making a significant impact on the problem."
The abandoned wire mesh cages continue to kill crabs, fish and other aquatic life as long as they are on the ocean floor. Additionally, the traps can be a hazard to navigation, foul shrimpers' nets and snag fishermens' lines.
Until the 77th Legislature created the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove an abandoned crab trap. With this authority and Senate Bill 607 passed by the 78th Legislature that defines a trap as abandoned on the first day of the closure, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission last fall adopted a permanent 10-day closure to occur on the third Friday of February of each year. From Feb. 20-29, all Texas coastal waters were closed to crabbing with traps to allow TPWD staff and volunteers to scour the bays in an attempt to remove the traps.
Volunteers had several interesting finds during their cleanup. The oldest trap was marked with a metal tag from the license year 1992, and the Aransas Bay crew found live hard coral growing on several traps seven miles from the Gulf jetties. One trap collected in Corpus Christi Bay, covered with oysters and barnacles, contained seven toadfish, nine sheepshead, six gray snapper, four black drum and three spadefish.
The preliminary cleanup results show 311 volunteers worked with TPWD to clean up the Texas coast. Following are total traps collected in each area.
--Aransas Bay -- 114
--Corpus Christi Bay -- 72
--Galveston Bay -- 1,264
--Lower Laguna Madre -- 1
--Matagorda Bay -- 452
--Sabine Lake -- 128
--San Antonio Bay -- 1,537
--Upper Laguna Madre -- 3
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program have provided grants to the crab trap removal program. Additional help has come from the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Regional Steel, Best Manufacturing and numerous organizations and companies like CCA Texas, SCA Texas, SALT, the Texas General Land Office and others volunteering their services.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SA]
March 8, 2004
Renovated Sabine Pass Battleground Re-Opening April 3
SABINE PASS, Texas -- Sabine Pass Battleground State Park and Historic Site will be celebrating its grand re-opening April 3 after nearly a year of intensive construction and face-lifts.
The approximately $2 million project, which received funding through Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation and Grant Funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has made structural and aesthetic improvements while maintaining the integrity of the historic site.
Along the waterfront, a crumbling two-lane boat ramp was replaced with a four-lane ramp and dock system. Two of the new lanes are American Disabilities Act-accessible and attached to a floating dock. To protect boaters from wave-action from passing ships, TPWD also created a new boat basin off the Sabine River/Ship Channel. TPWD also re-built 1,400 feet of bulkhead along the Sabine River/Ship Channel, adding handrails and making it wheelchair-accessible. Breaks in the rails provide fishing and overlook stations.
Visitors to the park will be able to appreciate its history with improved access to the historical information and monuments. The existing interpretive kiosk, redoubt (a Civil War replica of an earthen embankment for protection) and Dick Dowling monument have easier, ADA-accessible walkways and rest stops leading up to them. Additional ADA-picnic sites have been provided and three of the original 10 overnight camping areas have been divided into two larger ADA-accessible campsites.
The 57-acre Sabine Pass Battleground State Park and Historic Site now caters to campers, anglers, boaters and tourists interested in learning about Texas' wartime history. Back in 1863, however, it was the site of a fortress under attack during the Civil War, when Lt. Richard "Dick" Dowling stopped a Union armada from sailing up the Sabine River into Texas.
For more information about the park (located 15 miles south of Port Arthur) and construction, contact park manager Patrick Macouirk at (409) 971-2559 or patrick.macouirk@tpwd.texas.gov.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
March 8, 2004
Agreement To Protect Rare Snake, Improve Forest Habitat
NEW ORLEANS -- A new conservation agreement to protect and improve habitat for the rare Louisiana pine snake will benefit a host of other wildlife species that also live in East Texas pine forests, including game animals as well as other rare species.
Eight state and federal partners announced an agreement here March 2 that defines future actions to protect the Louisiana pine snake, a rare reptile found in Texas and Louisiana. The partners signed the candidate conservation agreement in December to identify and establish management for the Louisiana pine snake on federal lands in Texas and Louisiana.
The non-venomous Louisiana pine snake, a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act, historically ranged throughout the upland pine ecosystems of western Louisiana and east-central Texas, particularly the now imperiled longleaf pine forests. The snake is also listed as threatened by the State of Texas and as a species of conservation concern by the State of Louisiana. It is currently known to survive in only a few locations in each state and is likely one of the rarest snakes in the nation.
The Pineywoods of East Texas contain at least half of the suitable habitat for the snake, which prefers the sandy soil and ridge tops of southeastern upland pine forests.
"Mature upland pine forests with a grassy, herbaceous understory are the preferred habitat of this snake, and these also support a number of other threatened and endangered species, as well as game animals," said Ricky Maxey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist in Nacogdoches. "This includes the red cockaded woodpecker, Texas trailing phlox, Bachman's sparrow and other rare species. Game animals supported by these forests include bobwhite quail, eastern wild turkey and white-tailed deer."
The signatories to the pine snake agreement include: Texas National Forests, the U.S. Forest Service's Southern Research Station, TPWD, Kisatchie National Forest, Fort Polk Military Installation, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast and Southwest Regions.
The voluntary agreement provides a means for all agencies to work together on projects to avoid and minimize impacts to the snake. The agreement also sets up a mechanism to exchange information about successful management practices and coordinate research efforts.
Prescribed burning of the forest for the Louisiana pine snake maintains the fire-dependent animal and plant communities that developed over time, and prevents encroachment by off-site vegetation types that subsequently change the ecosystem. In addition to the ecological benefits, this forest is safer from detrimental wildfire events and more aesthetically pleasing to visitors.
"The biggest thing lacking on the landscape in East Texas at present is mature forests, by which I mean mid-to-late successional forests, trees at least 50-100 years old or older," Maxey said. "For the pine snake, what's critical is the open character of the older forest, and the grassy and herbaceous understory plant communities. These understory plant communities provide the habitat base for the pine snake's preferred prey, the pocket gopher. Young pines tend to grow in denser stands. Natural fire doesn't happen like it used to since people began suppressing it. So we need prescribed burning to maintain the understory and mimic natural conditions."
Maxey said TPWD intends to manage its relevant wildlife management areas in East Texas for the pine snake through prescribed burning and other habitat improvement tactics, as well as encourage private landowners and others to do the same through its grant programs and free technical guidance to landowners.
Downloadable photos and a fact sheet about the Louisiana pine snake are available online (http://southeast.fws.gov/news/).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 8, 2004
TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
All in a Day's Work -- Aransas County Game Wardens apprehended a commercial oyster boat in Aransas Bay with 29 percent undersize oysters. The captain of the boat was cited and 46 sacks of oysters were returned to the water.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
March 8, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of March 8-12, non-profit groups are getting much-needed funds to teach people about the outdoors. Plus, we'll take you to one state park when early pioneers literally made their mark.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: A World War II veteran is healing some old wounds by watching a reenactment of a 1944 island assault at the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site-National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg; women are learning about the outdoors through the 'Becoming An Outdoors-Woman' workshop; a fisherman's dream comes true when he catches the world's largest Blue Catfish on a rod and reel; and 'wildscaping' your yard not only cuts down on your water bill, it also gives wildlife a place to live.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Stories airing the week of March 7-14 are: the heritage of hunting passes from generation to generation; Mission Tejas State Park; kingfisher calling; creating artificial reefs; and wildflowers of East Texas.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv).
In the March issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, mountain biker Dan Oko challenges the desert conditions of Franklin Mountains State Park and seasoned hunter Steven R. LaMascus rekindles his love of hunting by going after spring turkeys. Saltwater fishing writer Larry Bozka casts for reds and seatrout in Copano Bay and Mary-Love Bigony reviews the comeback of Kemp's ridley turtle on the Texas coast.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online at (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).