|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-07-06                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
July 6, 2004
Environmental Learning Center To Serve Urban Houston
HOUSTON -- Construction has begun on the first phase of a multi-million dollar project to build new student facilities and transform former fish hatchery ponds into a model environmental education center at Sheldon Lake State Park in northeast Houston.
The Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center is envisioned as a giant, outdoor classroom where schoolchildren can learn about nature and the environment through hands-on experience. The main audience is inner city young people, few of whom have access to fishing, birding and other typical state park activities.
"The world of nature and the outdoors, the domain of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its allies, has historically been a rural enterprise," said Al Henry of Houston, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner who has become the project's leading advocate. "But today we have millions of children growing up in an urban world of concrete and steel. With the Sheldon project, we can bring the outdoors into the city and give these children important new chances for learning and growth."
About 7,500 students already travel each year to Sheldon Lake, a reservoir created in 1942 to provide water for war industries along the ship channel. The site later became a state fish hatchery and then a state park, which today offers youth fishing and other learning activities at 28 former hatchery ponds.
But the proposed project would more than double the volume of students moving through and also would greatly expand the quality and variety of visitor experiences.
The first phase, funded with about $5.8 million from various sources, including Proposition 8 funding, is under construction and set to open this fall. This includes a new 4,600-square-foot Pond Center building with an outdoor pavilion to orient arriving students and for use on rainy days. Also under construction is a new 15,000-square-foot Pond Plaza of outdoor landscaped areas, including a new observation deck that can accommodate an entire classroom-all this is an interpretive gathering and embarkation area for the pond network.
At the heart of the first phase are four new Pond Learning Stations that serve as outdoor aquatic classrooms. The first, Aquatic Lab 1, is a covered deck in the middle of a pond. Aquatic Lab 2 is an open deck in a different pond on the complex's south side. These "labs" allow students to get into the water to collect pond samples for study under a microscope. The next learning station is the Pond Crossing, a boardwalk that spans an entire pond with a covered deck outdoor classroom in the middle. The fourth station is a new Pond Pavilion shaded trailhead and observation deck in an adjacent wooded area at the far west end of the rows of ponds. Connecting all this is a rebuilt trail system that winds through the ponds, including an accessible bridge for students with disabilities.
Although youth education is the main focus, two other project goals are native habitat restoration and sustainable design. Also this year, scientists and volunteers have been planting native plants to restore wetlands and prairies. Agreements have been struck to secure essential water to sustain the main reservoir. Buildings incorporate "green" design features like solar energy and rainwater collection, not only to save energy and prevent pollution, but also to showcase these concepts for students.
However, the improvements only scratch the surface of what is planned at Sheldon. A local group of community leaders is seeking approximately $9.6 million in private donations to complete the second phase, which would include a new $3.3 million education and visitor center. Plans also call for "tree top" cabins and a camping area for overnight group stays, a dining hall and kitchen, plus more trails, boardwalks and habitat restoration.
The Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas, TPWD's official nonprofit partner, is helping to raise private donations for the project. To make a donation or learn about donor opportunities, see the project capital campaign Web page (http://tpwd.texas.gov/infrastructure/capital_campaign/sheldon.phtml).
For more information about Sheldon Lake State Park, including hours, fees and opportunities for school groups and families, see the park Web page (http://tpwd.texas.gov/park/sheldon) or call (281) 456-2800. Complete information about the Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center, including project photos and plans, is also online (http://tpwd.texas.gov/infrastructure/sheldon_lake).

[ 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]
July 6, 2004
Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Season Opens July 15
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both state and federal waters will open 30 minutes after sunset on Thursday, July 15, 2004. This opening date is based on an evaluation of the biological, social and economic information to maximize the benefits to the industry and the public.
In making its determination, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division used the best available scientific information, including samples collected by trawls and bag seines, and information gathered from the shrimping industry.
"Brown shrimp stocks have been very widely distributed this year with some areas of high population levels," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., TPWD coastal fisheries division director. "Shrimp are still moving to the Gulf from the bays, but there should be good catches available by July 15."
The purpose of the closed Gulf season is to protect brown shrimp during their major period of emigration from the bays to the Gulf of Mexico until they reach a larger, more valuable size before harvest and to prevent waste caused by the discarding of smaller shrimp.
Federal waters (from nine-to-200 nautical miles offshore) will open at the same time that state waters will open. The National Marine Fisheries Service chose to adopt rules compatible with those adopted by Texas.

[ 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]
July 6, 2004
Nimitz Symposium To Examine Battle of Leyte Gulf
FREDERICKSBURG, Texas -- The Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site-National Museum of the Pacific War and the Admiral Nimitz Foundation will tell the story of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle fought anywhere and the last great naval battle of World War II, at "The Battle of Leyte Gulf," the museum's 17th annual symposium Sept. 18-19.
Newsweek magazine assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, who wrote an acclaimed biography of naval legend John Paul Jones and is writing a book about the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and James Hornfischer, author of "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors," which recounts the heroic stand of American sailors at the Battle Off Samar, are among the speakers. Joining them will be John F. Wukovits, widely published military expert who has chronicled World War II in the Pacific and is the author of "Pacific Alamo: The Battle for Wake Island."
Also leading panel discussions will be historians Don Goldstein of the University of Pittsburg and Richard Frank, the author of numerous best-selling books about World War II in the Pacific. World War II veterans will participate lending their valuable insights to the presentations.
"The struggle involved more than 200,000 men and 282 American, Japanese and Australian ships across more than 100,000-square miles of sea," said Helen McDonald, assistant director of the museum. "The battle was a complex series of maneuvers. We will look at the tactical and strategic mistakes on both sides and the controversies involving the top Pacific War commanders, including Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral William F. Halsey. We'll also look at the human side of the battle, which is filled with awe-inspiring heroism."
"The Battle of Leyte is often overshadowed by Pearl Harbor and Midway," said McDonald. "At the symposium, we will help the public better appreciate the courage and bravery shown during the battle and the battle's importance in world history.'
Fought in October 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf ensured American maritime supremacy in the last months of World War II. It included four decisive naval actions: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Cape Engaño, the Battle of Surigao Strait, and the Battle off Samar. The battle is also memorable for the first organized kamikaze attack.
The battle all but wiped out the Imperial Japanese Navy, which could neither protect itself from air attack nor effectively guard the sea approaches to Japan. The U.S. Navy lost 10 ships and the Imperial Japanese Navy lost 35. More than 10,000 Japanese airman and sailors died and less than 3,000 American lives were lost.
Cosponsors of the event are the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, St. Edward's University, Fredericksburg Independent School District, the U.S. Naval Institute, and Texas Tech University.
The symposium is open to the public and will be held in the auditorium at Fredericksburg High School, Highway 16 South and Stadium Drive. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Cost is $40 per person for members of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation and $50 for non-members. Box lunches are available for an additional $8 per day. Dinner with the panelists is available Saturday evening for $40 per person. Participants may register online at (http://www.nimitz-museum.org/) or by calling the Admiral Nimitz Foundation at (830) 997-8600.
The National Museum of the Pacific War is the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the entire story of the war in the Pacific during World War II. It is a state historical site managed by TPWD and supported in part by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.

[ 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 ] [NT]
July 6, 2004
Falfurrias Students Use Goliad as Springboard to Smithsonian
AUSTIN, Texas -- Three Falfurrias High School students took their award- winning history project to the top this summer to compete at the National Championship of the National History Day Program in Washington D.C.
The three students Shane Wilson and Christopher Morales, both 16, and Marlene Morales, 14, along with their faculty sponsor Sharon Wilson visited Goliad State Park in December to do research about the influence that the Spanish missions had upon the development of the modern day cattle industry. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department State Park employees Douglas Plant and Beth Ellis gave the students tours of Mission Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga and Mission Nuestra Señora del Rosario and worked with them to understand the role of the mission as a precursor to today's cattle industry.
After extensive research, the students then compiled written papers, bibliographies, and pictures into an exhibit. The project was named, "The Open Range, Cattle and a Mission: Our Ranching Heritage." They competed on local, regional and state levels and placed first at each competition.
"The students were extremely excited to win at each level," Wilson said. "I think it made them work harder each time."
This earned them the opportunity to compete at the national level on June 13-17, at the University of Maryland near Washington D.C. The title and theme of the competition this year was "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History."
The students' exhibit placed 12th out of 90 in the Senior Group Exhibits category at the national competition. They were also asked to feature their exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on June 16. The students said they were thrilled for theirs to be one of nine exhibits featured out of the 2,000 total competing exhibits. They said having their work displayed at the Smithsonian was as important an honor as winning a national award.
"The National Museum of American History is a world-class museum and not many people have the opportunity to have their work displayed there," Shane Wilson said.
Goliad State Park has requested that the students to display their award-winning exhibit in the park upon their return from Washington D.C.
Falfurrias High School has competed in National History Day for nine years. The school has a curriculum focused on the history of South Texas and they encourage students to take an interest in their own history. All students enrolled in social studies must do a project as part of their course work. The top three projects in each division then advance to regional competition. FHS students have advanced to the state competition for nine consecutive years and the national competition for six consecutive years. FHS students have worked with the State Park system on two other occasions involving projects.
The National History Day program has promoted systemic educational reform related to the teaching and learning of history in America's schools for more than 25 years.

[ 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]
July 6, 2004
When Going Boating, Leave Behind a 'Float Plan'
Extra! Read All Aboat It!
AUSTIN, Texas -- Before you go, it is always important to leave some detailed information with a friend, co-worker or neighbor about your boating trip. That information is extremely helpful for authorities like Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens who might be the ones coming to look for you if you're not back on time.
"The person at home needs to be able to give us a description of the boat, number of people and where they were planning on going. The first place we check is the boat ramp they departed from to see if their vehicle is still there," said Alfonso Campos, chief of marine enforcement at TPWD.
It may seem like an annoyance when boaters are ready to set out for a day of fun in the sun. But if something goes wrong, boaters need to be able to be found sooner rather than later. Here are some guidelines for what information to leave behind.
Where are you going?
--Provide the time and place of departure (ramp).
--Provide the destination and direction of travel.
--If you have a cell phone, leave the number.
--Write down what you are wearing. In case any kind of search is needed, this is important for law enforcement to know.
--Notify someone if plans change.
--Provide a description of your vehicle, including the make, model and license number and a description of the boat, including the license number.
Who is going with you?
--List their names.
--Identify if anyone has any serious medical problems or need for special medication.
When are you returning?
--Allow for delays.
--Set an "Alarm" time, (the time when people should contact law enforcement if you're not back).
For more information about boating safety laws and boater education classes, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/boat/).

[ 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 ] [SL]
July 6, 2004
Bass Conservation Plates Available for Boat Trailers
AUSTIN, Texas -- The distinctive largemouth bass conservation license plate adorning thousands of Texas vehicles is now available for boat trailer registration.
As part of a pilot program, the Texas Department of Transportation is making available for trailers the popular Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's conservation largemouth bass plate. This marks the first specialty plate available for trailers.
"Texas bass fishermen are proud of their sport and considering the huge number of bass boats in Texas I think we can anticipate seeing a lot of these plates in the future," predicted Phil Durocher, TPWD Director of Inland Fisheries. "It's another way they can show their support for the fishery."
The conservation largemouth bass plate costs $30 in addition to regular vehicle registration fees, with $22 used to benefit the management and production of largemouth bass in Texas. Sales of the bass plate have generated more than $75,000 for bass conservation efforts since 2002.
The bass conservation license plates can be ordered at any county tax office in Texas, or an application can be downloaded from the TPWD Web site at (http://www.conservation-plate.org/) and mailed to the Texas Department of Transportation with a check or money order. Also, anyone can request a brochure by mail by calling (800) 792-1112 and leaving a name and mailing address. It takes 2-to-3 weeks.

[ 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]
July 6, 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 July 5-9, the beacon is once again shining brightly at Matagorda Island State Park. Plus, kids are learning that there is more to enjoying summer than watching telelvision.
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.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. The episode that airs the week of July 4-11, Ancient history of the Caddoan Indians; Casa Navarro State Historic Site; river access rules; restoring the once dominant grasslands and prairies; and shifting sands in West Texas.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv).
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 (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).