|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-01-23                                    |
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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: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Jan. 23, 2006
Frio River Bank Work Begins To Save Garner's Dance Floor
CONCAN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will begin a project Feb. 23 at Garner State Park designed to save the pavilion high on a river bluff where generations of Texans have danced and courted since the 1930s.
The $700,000 project to stabilize the rapidly eroding Frio River bank below the bluff is expected to last through late July, but isn't expected to have any effect on Garner's popular summertime dances at Texas' most popular overnight camping park, says park manager Craig VanBaarle.
"The only effect on park users will be that those tubing on the Frio River will have to exit the river briefly and walk around the construction area," VanBaarle said. "That will have the largest impact on visitors during March Spring Break and Easter weekend in April."
The main purpose of the project, TPWD project manager Walter Moldenhauer explained, is to stabilize the eroded bank by employing mammoth blocks of limestone stair-stepped from the waters edge up the riverbank to protect the historic pavilion and concession building above. Once completed, he said, the reconstructed riverbank will resemble a natural stone-layered riverbank like many found along Texas Hill Country rivers.
Work crews also will be backfilling spaces between the limestone blocks with dirt to restore vegetation for native wildlife such as native grasses, wildflowers, bald cypress and cedar elm trees.
The riverbank below the concrete dance floor, where up to 1,000 dancers congregate nightly between Memorial Day and Labor Day, has for decades suffered erosion from floodwaters common to the Frio River.
The erosion threatens construction done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. The last major flood, in the summer of 2003, caused the collapse of the concrete overlook at the bottom of CCC-built stairs leading to the platform.
The overlook will not be rebuilt, according to TPWD's Rollin Macrae, but the existing steps will still lead to a landing at the top of the new limestone benches. He said the agency is working with an Austin engineering firm to implement a design appropriate to the ecological setting.
Funds for the bank stabilization project come from Proposition 8 bond monies approved by voters in a 2001 constitutional amendment. The funds are part of $36.6 million in bonding authority approved in FY03 by the Texas Bond Review Board for critical repairs and renovations at dozens of state parks, fish hatcheries and other TPWD sites.
Garner State Park covers 1,484 acres and includes 1.5 miles of the Frio River frontage. Garner's more than 400 campsites attract almost a quarter-million campers each year. The park is named for John Nance Garner of nearby Uvalde who served as vice president during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.
For more information about Garner State Park, call the park at (830) 232-6132.
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: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Jan. 23, 2006
Science Provides Foundation for Saltwater Fishing Regs
AUSTIN, Texas -- It was a warm November evening in 1975 when a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coastal fisheries crew set the first gill net in Matagorda Bay.
By 6:30 a.m. the next day, biologists faced 3-foot seas and a cold, north wind as they counted and measured their catch.
That event marked the end of fisheries management "by hunch" in Texas.
In the more than three decades since, the TPWD coastal fisheries division has collected more than 20,500 gill net samples and more than 60,000 trawls in bays and the Gulf of Mexico.
Together with thousands of bag seines and oyster dredges and the creel survey program, started in 1974, the data give fisheries biologists a pretty good idea of what's happening in Texas waters.
"Because we have such a long-term database, using the same gear, the same way, over time, we can look and see if there's any change in the population, either in abundance or size structure," said Mark Fisher, Ph.D., TPWD Coastal Fisheries science director .
When the coastal fisheries monitoring program turns up evidence of a declining population -- whether from angling pressure or from a natural event, like a freeze or red tide -- biologists can propose changes to fishing regulations in an effort to help a species rebound.
According to Fisher, creel surveys -- where fisheries technicians and biologists interview anglers about their catches and count and measure what they kept -- are not, by themselves, a reliable indicator of a fish population's relative health.
"Sport and commercial fishing is not standardized like our monitoring program, so comparisons between bays and years is not possible, and market forces drive the commercial fishery -- not necessarily abundance," Fisher said.
Rule changes don't always act to restrict fishing. The coastal fisheries resource monitoring program also sometimes gives managers grounds for loosening regulations.
Normally, biologists propose regulation changes through an annual regulatory review. After fall resource assessments and a review of recommendations received from various groups throughout the year, proposals are presented to the public for input in a process called "scoping."
If the science shows a rule change is warranted in Texas, it is normally backed-up with a wealth of data. But science and even the scoping and public comment periods aren't the only deciding factors in the rule-making process, Fisher noted.
The department annually conducts angler surveys to better understand behaviors, motivations and attitudes about coastal fisheries issues. By gathering information on both the fish and the fishers (anglers), TPWD attempts to put conservation first while being sensitive to what anglers want and will support.
Fisher gives a frank assessment of how the regulatory review process works.
"Often, in fishing, it's hard to separate science from politics," he said. "We do realize we're affecting people's livelihoods and their favorite pastimes. The human dimension comes into consideration, definitely. The science gives us a solid foundation. Otherwise it becomes one person's opinion over another, and that doesn't work out too well."

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Jan. 23, 2006
Brush Control Funding Offered to Landowners
Natural Resources Conservation Service News Release
San Antonio -- The Edwards Aquifer Authority and Natural Resources Conservation Service have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide financial assistance to enhance range management through brush control on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
Brush control, primarily Ashe juniper (cedar) removal, has been identified as a method to increase Edwards Aquifer recharge and improve pastureland productivity.
"The focus of this MOU is to make resources available to help control Ashe juniper, but the opportunity to apply treatment lies in the hands of the private landowners in the Edwards Aquifer Region," said Butler. "With such vast areas of the Edwards Aquifer region affected by the invasive plant, this collaborative effort and shared resources are critical to making dollars stretch farther and maximizing long term success."
By working cooperatively, the Authority and NRCS can help landowners maximize the amount of land they can clear through brush control. In 2006, the Authority has budgeted $300,000 for this program. Under the current NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) landowners can be reimbursed for up to 50% of the costs associated with the initial removal of Ashe juniper.
Under the Authority's Range Management Cost Share Incentives Program, landowners can be reimbursed for an additional 20% of their initial Ashe juniper removal costs if they are enrolled in EQIP. Authority funding is also available for up to 50% of follow-up maintenance costs for the Ashe juniper removal.
"This is a great opportunity for the NRCS and the Authority to work together to address a critical natural resource issue in this region," said Potts. "The two programs really compliment one another."
NRCS and Authority reimbursement percentages for initial Ashe juniper removal are based on NRCS-calculated county average costs for the removal method employed. Authority reimbursement for follow-up maintenance costs is based on a per-acre maximum of $15.00.
For more information, call the USDA-NRCS office in your county, listed under "USDA" in the phone book. The information for all NRCS Farm Bill programs is also on the Texas NRCS Web Site. NRCS offers its services free of charge.
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: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 23, 2006
Gulf Council Seeks Input on Reef Fish, Shrimp Proposals
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council News Release
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will host a public meeting in Texas later this month, seeking input from commercial fishermen, sport anglers and others on proposed regulations designed to better protect reef fish such as red snapper and better manage shrimp stocks and control shrimp bycatch.
A recent stock assessment showed that red snapper continues to be overfished and is undergoing overfishing. A large portion of the fishing mortality comes from the shrimp trawl bycatch of juvenile age 0 and age 1 fish.
Shrimp trawl bycatch, combined with bycatch of red snapper from the directed commercial and recreational fisheries, could jeopardize the success of the recovery plan for these species.
The proposed amendments may change current management practices to help achieve an appropriate level and rate of rebuilding of the red snapper fishery. Other actions could further reduce bycatch and increase profitability in the shrimp fishery.
The Council has made available for review and comment draft scoping documents for Joint Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp 14 and Amendment 15 to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP).
The first document, Joint Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp 14, proposes actions that deal with adjustments to the total allowable catch (TAC) for red snapper, size limits, bag limits, recreational season dates, and the certification of new shrimp bycatch reduction devices (BRDs). The amendment will also look at directed fishery gear restrictions and depth restrictions on the commercial fishery, as well as effort reduction in the shrimp fishery.
The second document, Amendment 15 to the Shrimp FMP, will consider such issues as shrimp trawl gear limits, limitations of shrimp vessel permit transferability, further reducing bycatch, shrimp fishery bycatch quota and quota monitoring, shrimp effort reduction, latent permits and enforcement actions.
Bycatch is the accidental catch of non-target species, such as catching sea turtles or fish in trawls designed to catch shrimp. Documents are now available and can be obtained online at www.gulfcouncil.org/downloads.htm, or by contacting the Council at 813-348-1630. Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the process by attending meetings or providing written comments. Written comments should be no later than March 6, 2006.
Scoping meetings have been scheduled throughout the gulf coast to give the public an opportunity to provide input on the types of management changes the Council should consider.
A total of ten scoping meetings will be held, from Brownsville, Texas, to Key West, Florida, to receive comments on the draft documents, as well as other comments that may help address the goals of the amendments. Public input will be used by the Council to further develop the amendments.
All scoping meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. and will conclude when public testimony is completed, but no later than 10:00 p.m. The Texas meeting dates and locations are:
--Monday, January 23, 2006 -- Four Points by Sheraton, 3777 North Expressway, Brownsville, Texas 78520, 956-547-1500
--Tuesday, January 24, 2006 -- University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 750 Channel View Drive, Port Aransas, Texas 78373, 361-749-6711
--Wednesday, January 25, 2006 -- Holiday Inn on the Beach, 5002 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, Texas 77551, 409-740-3581
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson--Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans designed to manage fishery resources in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.