|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-04-11                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 11 years 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]
April 11, 2005
Senate Bill 3 Would Provide Water for Fish and Wildlife
AUSTIN, Texas - A law proposed in the current session of the Texas Legislature would mark a major change in state water policy that is significant for fish, wildlife and the environment.
As originally introduced, Senate Bill 3 would "provide for the freshwater inflows and instream flows necessary to maintain the viability of the state's streams, rivers, and bay and estuary systems." It would direct the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which allocates water rights permits, to do this in two ways.
The bill states "in those basins in which water is available for appropriation, the commission should establish an environmental set-aside." It goes on to say "in those basins in which the unappropriated water that will be set aside for instream flow and freshwater inflow protection is not sufficient to fully satisfy the environmental flow standards established by the commission, a variety of approaches, both public and private, for filling the gap must be explored and pursued."
"Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Chairman Armbrister are to be congratulated for their leadership and courage in putting this issue at the forefront of our water policy," said Joseph Fitzsimons, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman, an attorney and rancher with a long interest in wildlife and the environment. He sat on the Study Commission on Water for Environmental Flows, a committee composed of key legislators, river authorities, environmental groups, leaders of the three state water agencies and others. That group reported recommendations to the legislature earlier this year, many of which are reflected in SB 3.
"This proactive approach to water for wildlife is a first in 150 years of Texas water law--we've really made a seismic shift," Fitzsimons said.
In another landmark development, the bill would allow existing water rights to be amended to protect fish, wildlife, habitat and other environmental needs, although it would not allow new water rights for such purposes.
"This bill would allow voluntary transfers of existing permits to be dedicated to fish and wildlife. These kinds of voluntary transactions to benefit the environment will be necessary in over appropriated basins. This bill recognizes the need for market based solutions to the environmental challenge of providing water for fish and wildlife during a drought," Fitzsimons said. *
Sen. Ken Armbrister of Victoria, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources committee, filed the bill, which must still be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor. The proposal is said to have broad support.
"Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Senator Armbrister did an amazing job," Fitzsimons said. "They have everybody on board." **
The bill contains qualifying language to make clear that water for wildlife and the environment should be set aside "to the extent practicable" and "while balancing all other public interests," indicating the careful balance needed to satisfy the needs of cities, industry, agriculture and the environment in coming decades.
Experts say another breakthrough aspect of SB 3 is that it calls for an adaptive process to allocating water for environmental needs, a process that can evolve over time based on the latest science and stakeholder input. It would set up an Environmental Flows Commission composed of legislators and other appointees, including representatives of boards or commissions that govern the three state water agencies. This new commission would appoint river basin and bay stakeholder groups to recommend environmental set aside and flow standards. A science advisory committee would also advise the new commission.
All of these recommendations would be considered by the TCEQ when it makes final decisions on the bill's provisions related to water allocation.
Anyone can see the text of SB 3 on the Texas Legislature Online Web site.
* Correction, April 11: The original version of this paragraph has been edited for clarity. (Return to corrected item.)
** Correction, April 11, 2005: The original version of this paragraph has been edited for clarity. (Return to corrected item.)
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
April 11, 2005
Leave That Wild Animal Alone, Experts Advise
AUSTIN, Texas -- With spring come young, wild animals venturing from their nests and hiding places under the watchful eyes of their parents. Young animals often stray and appear to be abandoned -- that's when humans need to resist the urge to help, wildlife experts say.
Some species, including birds, deer and snakes, are very active this time of year and are being seen more frequently.
This is the time of year that young birds are out of their nests but cannot fly. If the bird's eyes are open, it has a coat of feathers and is hopping around, it is probably fine, according to staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife's wildlife information center. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
"Many people discover apparently lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing, and this sometimes does more harm than good," said Mark Klym of the Wildlife Diversity branch at TPWD. "People should leave young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. It is best to observe a wild creature from a distance for a while in order to make that determination."
Staying too close to the baby may keep mamma from returning, Klym said.
The fawning season begins in early to mid-May, although the newborns may not be visible to the casual observer for several weeks because of excellent camouflage of their mottled coats and their mother's care in hiding them from predators. Deer will typically leave their fawn(s) for hours at a time, returning only to nurse them. Fawns are often discovered lying quietly in tall grass or brushy areas. Well-meaning people sometimes pick up these fawns, thinking that they have been abandoned by their mothers and need help. This is rarely the case. A fawn should only be picked up if it is covered in fire ants or is otherwise seriously injured. These fawns need assistance and should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
If it is determined that a wild animal is sick or injured call the TPWD wildlife information line, (512) 389-4505, during business hours for a referral to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After-hours callers can get the names of rehabilitators from TPWD's dispatch line at (512) 389-4848 or by accessing this Web site: http://tpwd.texas.gov/nature/research/rehab/index.htm. During the spring, the department receives more than 100 calls a week about baby wildlife.
"Some of the most common questions are whether the fawns are actually abandoned and if baby birds can take care of themselves on the ground," Klym said. "In most cases, the fawns' mothers are just out of sight and the baby birds are still being protected and fed by the parents."
"The overall message is that wildlife should be left alone," said Klym. "Wild animals are best left in the wild."
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years 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]
April 11, 2005
Fish, Wildlife, Parks Scientists Act on Peer Review Findings
AUSTIN, Texas - The science that underpins Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries, wildlife and state parks conservation is generally sound and current, although TPWD could improve methods of sampling and analyzing fish, wildlife and habitat data and the way results are used to make conservation decisions.
Those are some of the results of a recently completed review of science practices at the department, which began more than a year ago with an internal review, followed by a thorough peer review by outside experts.
The Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan created by TPWD earlier this decade set a priority goal to improve science and data collection and undertake a complete review of all scientific and conservation programs.
An American Fisheries Society panel of national experts reviewed TPWD Inland and Coastal Fisheries Division practices. The Wildlife Management Institute reviewed practices in the Wildlife and State Parks Divisions. In perhaps the highest-profile review, a National Academy of Sciences panel reviewed river instream flow work practices done by TPWD, the Texas Water Development Board and other partners.
"In working with our outside peers from across North America, we believe that the scope and depth of this review is unprecedented among state and federal resource management agencies," said Robert L. Cook, TPWD executive director.
"The best defense of scientific credibility is a good offense, in this case an independent peer review. I'm proud of the fact that these outside experts looked hard at what we do and found that, for the most part, we're state of the art in our current practices. They did recommend ways to improve some parts of our fisheries and wildlife programs and we're going to act on those. There are some things we can do immediately, and others that will take planning and budgeting to do over the next few years."
Program staff members from the TPWD resource divisions have been reviewing the peer review reports to determine how best to address findings and recommendations. That will provide significant input to division operating plans, the primary means by which the agency will act on the revised goals of the Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan.
All of the science review results are on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years 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]
April 11, 2005
Recreational Snapper Fishery Re-Opens April 21
AUSTIN, Texas - The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced the re-opening of the recreational fishery for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal waters, which begin 9 nautical miles from the Texas shoreline, will open at 12:01 a.m. local time on April 21, 2005 and remain open until midnight on Oct. 31, 2005 when the recreational quota of 4.47 million pounds is projected to be caught.
Anglers are reminded there is a 16-inch minimum size limit and four fish daily bag limit in federal waters, which includes the captain and crew of for-hire vessels. Texas waters, within 9 nautical miles from the Texas shoreline, are open through out the year, but with a 15-inch minimum size limit.

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KD]
April 11, 2005
TPW Commission Awards $1,309,463 in Boat Ramp Grants
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved $1,309,463 on April 7 for four boat ramp grants across the state.
The State Boat Ramp Program, authorized in 1975 by the Texas Legislature, provides funds for the purchase, construction and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and related improvements. Program funds may also be used for capital improvements to existing state boat ramp sites.
The program receives funding from two sources: the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as the Wallop-Breaux Program, and the State Game, Fish and Water Safety Fund. Fifteen percent of the state's annual apportionment from the federal Wallop-Breaux Program must be used to provide public access for motor boating facilities. Construction for new ramps is paid for on a 75 percent (state) 25 percent (local) basis.
The City of Granbury received a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $500,000 for construction of a three-lane boat ramp, parking lot and access drive, loading docks, restroom, fish cleaning station, dredging, and signs. The facility is located on Lake Granbury adjacent to U.S. Highway 377 in Granbury in Hood County.
The Aransas County Navigation District Number 1 received $258,443 in 75 percent matching funds to improve and expand the capacity of an existing four-lane boat ramp and parking area by constructing a second parking area, restroom, fish cleaning station, refurbish the existing ramp, and add video surveillance system. The facility is located on the North side of Cove Harbor in Rockport in Aransas County and provides recreational boating access to Aransas Bay.
The City of Childress received a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $139,833 for construction of a one-lane boat ramp, parking lot and access drive, courtesy dock, restroom, fish cleaning station, lighting, and signs. The facility is located on the Southwest side of Lake Childress six miles west of Childress in Childress County.
Ochiltree County received a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $411,187 for construction of a one-lane boat ramp, parking area, courtesy dock, retaining wall, lighting and signs. The facility is located on the South side of Lake Fryer in Wolf Creek County Park in Ochiltree County.

[ Note: This item is more than 11 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [KE]
April 11, 2005
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 more than 100 Texas stations. Airing April 11-15, landowners--do you want to make some extra money? We'll tell you how in this week's episodes. Also, we'll tell you about a hunting season that was 20 years in the making. And before you book that stuffy hotel conference room for your next meeting, family reunion, or wedding reception, consider taking your event outdoors.
For more information, visit the Web.
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.
For more information, go to the Web.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Airing April 10-17, adventure racing is not new, but holding events in state parks is. At Tyler State Park, manager Bill Smart and his staff welcome this new group of park patrons as they hike, bike, paddle, run, walk, and crawl among the park's pines. Also this week: Billie Foster helps explain how the ancient pictographs at Seminole Canyon State Park & State Historic Site tell of a lost culture; hunter education instructor Heidi Rao has some tips for handling a gun safely in the field; and the wide open Trans-Pecos is home to the adventurous antelope.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web.
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.
On the Net:
Passport to Texas: http://www.passporttotexas.org/
TPWD Video News: http://tpwd.texas.gov/news/tv/vnr/thismonth/
TPWD on PBS: http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv
TPW Magazine: http://www.tpwmagazine.com/