|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-02-13                                    |
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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]
Feb. 13, 2006
Historical Documents To Highlight Texas Independence Celebration at Washington-on-the-Brazos
WASHINGTON, Texas -- Under siege at the Alamo on March 3, 1836, commander William B. Travis dispatched a horseman with a terse message imploring the 59 men convened here in a drafty frame building to continue their deliberations to give birth to the Republic of Texas.
The resulting Texas Declaration of Independence, the only handwritten copy still in existence, comes home March 4-5 to "The Birthplace of Texas" to highlight the annual Texas Independence Day celebration.
An 1836 newspaper copy of Travis' last letter imploring "let the convention go on and make a declaration of independence," the original handwritten Texas Declaration of Independence and several other rare documents will be on public display together for the first time in 170 years at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.
The historic papers will be part of the "Let the Convention Go On" exhibit that opens March 2, Texas Independence Day, at the historic site's Star of the Republic Museum.
The exhibit includes the declaration, Travis' letter, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, journals of the Convention of 1836, William Fairfax Gray's diary detailing convention proceedings and other key documents clarifying the Texians' grievances against the Mexican government and reasons for seeking independence.
Visitors to Washington-on-the-Brazos can view the documents at the museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the two-day celebration.
Travis' two-sentence missive to those gathered at the convention, attended by such Texas heroes as Sam Houston, Thomas Rusk and Jose Antonio Navarro, concludes, "If independence is not declared, I shall lay down my arms and so will the men under my command."
"The reason the letter is so important to us," Houston McGaugh, director of the Star of the Republic Museum, explained "is that Travis was imploring the convention to continue so the world would recognize Texas as an independent country and the United States would protect Texas. He knew if they (the delegates) didn't declare independence, Mexico would come back into Texas and wipe them out."
The unprecedented exhibit results from collaboration among the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (Texas Declaration), Texas General Land Office (Constitution), University of Texas at Austin's Center for American History (Gray's diary), the Dallas Heritage Society (Convention journals) and Star of the Republic Museum. The documents will be on display through March 16.
Gray, a Virginia soldier and lawyer, arrived in Texas in 1835 and attended the Convention of 1836, recording proceedings in his diary. Gray's diary was published in 1909 under the title From Virginia to Texas 1835.
In addition to the "Let the Convention Go On" exhibit, park visitors attending the two-day celebration can experience the early days of the republic through costumed re-enactors engaged in 19th century folkways, such as blacksmithing and quilting, military drills and old-timey music performed by the No Foolin' String Band and Fathers of Texas. The latter band features Texas favorite K. R. Woods.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Houston television personality Ron Stone will emcee a special program honoring invited guests, signers of the 1836 Declaration of Independence and their descendants, concluded by the Texas Army's black gunpowder salute. A Fathers of Texas concert, featuring Austin music legend Rusty Wier, follows as a lead-up to the traditional cutting of a giant Texas birthday cake.
During the two-day celebration, park visitors can see a replica of Independence Hall on the original site where the Convention of 1836 took place, tour the Star of the Republic Museum and experience 1850s farm life at the Barrington Living History Farm, which includes the original home of Anson Jones, the Republic of Texas' last president.
All admission fees will be waived during celebration weekend. Festival vendors will offer a variety of food and drinks.
The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association sponsors the Texas Independence Day Celebration.
The historic complex is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. Barrington Living History Farm is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. The Star of the Republic Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is located off Texas Highway 105 on FM 1155 between Brenham and Navasota, approximately an hour northwest of Houston. For additional details of the weekend celebration, please call (936) 878-2214.
Special Media Photo Op: The historic Republic of Texas documents will be arriving at approximately noon on Tues., Feb. 28, at Washington-on-the-Brazos aboard the Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site's authentic replica of an 1850 Concord stagecoach. Costumed schoolchildren and historical re-enactors will greet the fire engine-red stagecoach.
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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 ] [TH]
Feb. 13, 2006
Game Warden Undercover Investigation Cites Fish Buyers
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas game wardens have concluded a four-month undercover probe by issuing citations to wholesale and retail fish markets and restaurants in North Texas that have been illegally buying game fish.
Fish poachers have been catching freshwater game fish such as smallmouth, striped, and white bass; blue, channel, and flathead catfish, crappie and trout and illegally selling them to dealers. Wild-caught fish of these species are protected by law from commercial harvest and sale, but farm-raised fish of some of these species can be sold.
The operation started after complaints from some law-abiding retail fish dealers who reported violations by illegal dealers. The investigation took place at various locations in North Texas where most of the illegal transactions were videotaped to positively identify game fish buyers.
"We should point out that several businesses that were contacted by our undercover operatives refused to buy game fish because they knew it was illegal and advised undercover agents not to come back to their establishment," said Col. Pete Flores, TPWD law enforcement director. "So, many people in this industry do abide by the law, and we appreciate that fact. But illegal activity will not be tolerated."
Flores said undercover operations are a tool that Texas game wardens use to apprehend those that engage in illegal commerce involving natural resources.
"These operations serve to protect Texas fisheries for lawful recreational and commercial fishing activities on our coastal waters and inland waters," Flores said.
The investigation documented that more than 30 businesses and restaurants that purchased more than 750 pounds of fish illegally. Violators are being charged with illegal purchase of protected finfish, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for each charge."
If all individual violations are filed the fines would exceed $175,000, plus restitution for each fish in some cases. Cases are being prosecuted through various justice of the peace courts in North Texas, the majority of them in Tarrant County.
All such businesses statewide are required to have in their possession appropriate licenses and paperwork for the sale and purchase of aquatic products. The required paperwork is subject to inspection by game wardens during business hours.
"These types of operations will hopefully remind businesses that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens will enforce license and documentation requirements," said Capt. Scott Haney of TPWD's Fort Worth law enforcement office, whose team led the effort to issue citations following the undercover investigation.
"Those fishermen who catch game fish and sell them illegally and the businesses that buy game fish illegally will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Game Wardens have an obligation to ensure that the sporting public's hunting and fishing license dollars go to protecting our natural resources and recreational opportunities throughout the state."

[ 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]
Feb. 13, 2006
2005 Hunting Fatalities Match Historic Lows
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hunting fatalities dropped to just two in 2005, down from four the previous year, and matched all-time lows in 1996 and 2002. Only 2004 had fewer total hunting accidents, 29, compared to last year's total of 30.
"We like to say that 'hunting is safe and getting safer,' and it really is," said Steve Hall, education director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The state's worst year on record for hunting accidents was 1968, when 105 accidents were reported, including 37 fatalities.
For the decade of 1966-1975, TPWD recorded one hunting accident per 10,858 hunting licenses issued. The incidence of hunting accidents has gradually fallen, until -- in the last decade -- only 1 hunter per 26,250 licenses was involved in a hunting accident.
In the fall of 1988, hunter education in Texas became mandatory for anyone born on or after Sept. 2, 1971.
"We're still on a trend that is taking us downward," Hall said. "Whether we bump it up next year or not, the 10--year trend is what I look at, and it's coming down. Mandatory hunter education is really having an impact."
In 2005, more than 3,000 volunteer hunter education instructors trained more than 30,000 hunters across the state.
Hall said even hunters who are not required to take the education course are more aware of basic safety principles than before.
"It's things like the '10 Commandments of Shooting Safety,' the very basic safety principles that are promoted a whole lot more now than 30 or even 20 years ago," Hall said. "Highlighting the accidents is an education in and of itself."
The two hunting fatalities of 2005 included a Mason County deer hunter who accidentally discharged his rifle into his own chest, and a Limestone County hog hunter whose shot ricocheted and resulted in shrapnel hitting a child in his truck.
According to Hall, both accidents were preventable if the hunters had only followed some very basic safety principles like those taught in the hunter education courses.
"You know you're not going to stop accidents altogether," he said. "But you're going to help people build knowledge and skills to avoid accidents."
The full report for 2005 is available on the TPWD web site.
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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 ] [AR]
Feb. 13, 2006
White Bass, Smallmouth Kick-off New Record Category
AUSTIN, Texas - Killeen children's pastor Bob Maindelle was jigging for white bass under a flock of seagulls and terns at Stillhouse Hollow Lake Thurs., Jan. 26, when he stuck the fish that would become the first state record in the new "length-only" catch and release category.
The 15.06-inch sandy falls short of the current lake record, a 17.625-inch fish Maindelle caught in January 2005.
"It was kind of a dreary, gray morning, and it happened to be one of those 'right place at the right time' things," Maindelle said.
Maindelle logs every fish he catches -- between 8,500 and 11,500 each year since the early 1990s -- and white bass make up the majority of those fish. He said he keeps perhaps a dozen to eat each year.
"White bass are sporty on light gear," he said. "You have to be excellent on electronics to do well, and because they're a deep-water fish, you get away from the shore-slapping crowd. They're an easy fish to put kids onto and catch."
Maindelle said he knew about the new catch-and-release state record category -- he holds the current state record for the diminutive log perch, and water body records for white bass on Lakes Belton and Waco, in addition to Stillhouse Hollow, -- and said the new category was overdue.
"It's been kind of a shame that in order to get a record qualified, you had to keep the fish and kill it," he said. "This is a great option, very conservation-minded."
Just three days after Maindelle's catch, an Oklahoma resident who also habitually releases his fish caught the second length-only record: a 22.75-inch smallmouth bass from Lake Texoma.
Jay Fuller, of Kingston, Okla., put the fish in his live well and went on the hunt for certified scales. An Oklahoma biologist put him in touch with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Bruce Hysmith in Sherman. Hysmith measured and weighed the fish before Fuller released it back into Texas waters.
The 7.06-pound smallie ties for number 10 on the Texas Top 50 list for the species, and breaks a nearly 10-year-old Lake Texoma water body record.
"I pretty much fish exclusively for smallmouth here on Texoma," Fuller said. "It's great -- seems like it's getting better all the time. This month and next month are really good months for your big fish. Numbers-wise, April and May are good months."
Fuller caught the record fish on a jig in about 20 feet of water along the Eisenhower State Park shoreline.
"There are some good spots on the Oklahoma side, but I prefer the Texas water -- it's a lot clearer and rockier," he said.
Fuller said he rarely keeps smallmouth bass; he has one on his wall that swallowed a crankbait.
"I really encourage catch and release on smallmouth," he said. "They're a rare fish in this area and we're just lucky to have them."
TPWD Angler Recognition Program coordinator Joedy Gray agreed.
"I don't get a lot of them. Each year, I get maybe two," Gray said. "That's a nice fish. That's a nice smallmouth."
TPWD launched the length-only record category Jan. 1 for two reasons, Gray said: to promote catch-and-release fishing, and to offer anglers who were having difficulty finding certified scales an opportunity to be recognized for trophy catches.
Only the 16 freshwater and 18 saltwater species currently listed as eligible for "Big Fish" awards are eligible for catch-and-release state records.
Fish that also are weighed on scales certified not later than 30 days after the catch, but released alive, may also be submitted for the traditional state record "weight" category. Applications for either category must be submitted within 60 days of the catch.
"As soon as the word gets out, I expect to see some more applications," Gray said. "I know a lot of kayakers are looking at it."
For more information on the catch-and-release record category and eligible species, go to: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/rulescr.phtml

[ 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]
Feb. 13, 2006
Lunker Anglers Just Four Fish Away From Big Prize
AUSTIN, Texas -- The 396 ShareLunker was caught Feb. 5 on Lake Conroe in 12 feet of water on a crankbait. The "lunker" bass weighed 14.8 pounds and was caught by Harry Durham of Houston.
The catch moves things closer to lunker 400, which is the focus of a Budweiser ShareLunker program promotional push by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. The person who catches the 400th qualifying entry will receive the largest prize package the program has ever offered.
In addition to the usual prizes of a jacket and a fiberglass fish replica, the winning angler will receive a cash award of $400 per pound of fish and a rod and reel valued at $600. If the angler is a Texas resident, he or she will also receive a lifetime fishing license.
Prizes are being provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and will be awarded at the annual Budweiser ShareLunker banquet at TFFC in Athens May 27.
Anglers legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more between October 1 and April 30 each year may enter the fish into the Budweiser ShareLunker program by calling (903) 681-0550 or leaving a page, including area code, at (888) 784-0600. The angler may choose to have the fish returned after the spawning season or donate the fish to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.
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 ] [KL]
[ Local Interview Contact: Diana Foss, (281) 456-7029, diana.foss@tpwd.texas.gov; or Keith Crenshaw, (281) 456-7029, keith.crenshaw@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Feb. 13, 2006
Workshop Offers Tips for Houston-area Landowners
HOUSTON -- A workshop to be held Feb. 25 will educate Houston-area landowners about available land management tools. The workshop is part of a statewide series designed to address the growing problem of Texas rural land being fragmented into smaller tracts, often involving urban-based owners who are interested in wildlife conservation but lack experience in wildlife or land management.
For more than a century, rural Texas land has been owned mainly by farm and ranch families who lived on it. In recent decades, the countryside has been fragmented into smaller tracts owned increasingly by urban owners looking for a weekend retreat or retirement home.
In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that Texas led the nation in the loss of undeveloped land from 1992-97.
Land fragmentation is one of the main threats to wildlife in Texas. It crowds wildlife into smaller spaces, blocks travel corridors and disrupts access to feeding areas.
This workshop is for landowners who already have some experience with land and wildlife management. A workshop for beginners will be held later in the year.
The Feb. 25 workshop will discuss the tools, people and funding programs available to help landowners achieve conservation and financial goals when managing property for wildlife. Local wildlife professionals will give presentations regarding setting up leases, wildlife census counts, alien species, supplementing food and other topics.
Attendees will also receive two continuing education credit hours in general pesticide and agricultural applicator's licensing
"The rural landscape is being broken up and fragmented by landowners that want to own a little piece of the country. At this workshop, urban landowners that own property elsewhere can come and get the knowledge to make sound management decisions that benefit wildlife," said Keith Crenshaw, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department natural resource specialist. "Houston landowners have property all over Texas so the workshop is not limited to management techniques along the Gulf Coast. We give a broad spectrum of information that is applicable statewide, then we add information from local biologists for the individual landowner to get a more regional perspective."
TPWD and the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas are sponsoring the event, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter Drive in Houston.
The cost for the workshop is $20 per person, which covers lunch and materials. Registration is required by Feb. 17 and the workshop is limited to 200 people For more information and reservations, contact Diana Foss or Keith Crenshaw at (281) 456-7029 or see the Landowner Workshops calendar 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: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
[ Additional Contacts: Tamara Trail, Texas Wildlife Association, t_trail@texas-wildlife.org, (972-681-1701) or Linda Campbell, TPWD, linda.campbell@tpwd.texas.gov, (512) 389-4395 ]
Feb. 13, 2006
Women of the Land Workshop Offered March 10-12
SAN ANTONIO -- Women who are interested in learning outdoor skills, as well as land management skills, are encouraged to sign up for "Women of The Land," a weekend workshop scheduled for March 10-12 at the Franklin Family Ranch near Blanco, Texas.
This two-day program is geared towards women who are interested in learning about plants, deer ecology and habitat management techniques, as well as about shooting, photography, fly fishing and outdoor cooking.
The "Women of The Land" program is open to all women age 14 and older. Mothers and daughters are encouraged to participate.
"We realize that family values are important to outdoor women and we want to do all we can to assist them in passing on your land management heritage to the next generation," said Linda Campbell, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department private lands program director.
The workshop is sponsored by the Texas Wildlife Association, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The cost is $150 per person for all the classes, meals, and lodging for Saturday night. Lodging for Friday night is also available for an extra fee.
Participants are offered their choice of classes over four concurrent sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Classes being offered include: Deer Ecology & Management, Hill Country Plants & Habitat, Fishing & Pond Management, Wildlife ID on Your Land, Habitat Management Basics, Rifle Basics, Shotgun Basics, Camping & Dutch Oven Cooking, Hunting Deer - Basics for Hunters & Landowners, Wildlife Photography, Birding, & Wildlife Viewing, Ranch & Wildlife Management Planning and Stream Ecology and Fly Fishing.
For more information, contact Tamara Trail of the Texas Wildlife Association at 972-681-1701, Linda Campbell of Texas Parks & Wildlife at 1-800-792-1112, x. 4395 or call 1-800-TEX-WILD. You may also download a registration form from http://www.texas-wildlife.org/.