|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-06-05                                    |
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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]
June 5, 2006
Perry Bass Leaves Texas Conservation Legacy
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Former Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission member, chairman, chairman emeritus and lifelong conservationist Perry Richardson Bass died June 1 at his home here at the age of 91, leaving a legacy that will long benefit all those who love fishing, hunting, state parks and the outdoor life.
Bass was appointed to the commission in 1977 by Gov. Dolph Briscoe. He was named chairman in 1979 by Gov. Bill Clements and served in that role until his term ended in 1983. Clements appointed Bass chairman emeritus in 1988, a role now held by his son Lee, also a former commissioner and commission chairman.
Texas conservation veterans remember the "Redfish Wars" as one of the state's most contentious issues. Bass personally championed the cause, prompting the legislature to designate red drum (redfish) and spotted seatrout as game fish. The passage of HB 1000 in 1983 took redfish and seatrout from commercially overfished species on the brink of collapse to the premier recreational catch on the Texas coast.
Several current leaders of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department were just starting their careers when Bass led the commission, including Executive Director Robert L. Cook, who was a wildlife biologist leading the white-tailed deer program in 1979.
"Mr. Perry Bass was one of a kind, an icon of Texas conservation," Cook said. "He was kind, considerate, and thoughtful to all people, big or small, young or old, rich or poor. He was a 'family man' every day. He was a leader in the business world; he worked hard, earned his way, and was very successful. Perry R. Bass exemplified what Texas Parks and Wildlife is all about. Millions of Texans have benefited greatly from his love for conservation and wild places. He was more than a hunter, more than a fisherman--he loved nature and the outdoors and was a true wildlife conservationist."
Gene McCarty, now deputy executive director for administration, was a coastal fisheries biologist and hatchery manager during the "Redfish Wars."
"There was a dedicated few people involved in gill-netting redfish and seatrout; it had been their livelihood for generations," McCarty recalls. "Mr. Bass was front and foremost in working with conservation groups and legislators and others to explain that those coastal resources were not limitless and needed protection. He lived and breathed redfish and the coast. He had the means to go anywhere and do anything, but he preferred to go to San Jose Island and catch redfish. As chairman, he had a keen interest in the science of conservation, not just a legal or recreational perspective. When he came to the island for the weekend, he came to the hatchery every time and he was keenly interested in what I was doing-he knew brood fish processes as well as I did."
The Bass tenure included these other achievements:
--Construction of the John Wilson Marine Fish Hatchery in Corpus Christi (the first marine hatchery in Texas), later renamed the CCA-CPL Marine Development Center
--Establishment of a state waterfowl stamp to fund waterfowl habitat acquisition
--Passage of the state Wildlife Conservation Act in 1983, which did away with a patchwork quilt of confusing and sometimes conflicting regulations in each county and led to science-based, statewide regulation and management.
--Creation of the Local Parks, Recreation and Open Space Fund by the Texas Legislature in 1979. Since then, hundreds of city and county parks have been built or improved with TPWD-administered grants totaling close to $136 million.
--Creation of the Operation Game Thief program, providing rewards for information leading to the arrest of poachers.
--The brood stock and spawning research building at TPWD's Palacios field station was completed with financial support from Bass. This formed the core of a marine research complex later named the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station.

[ 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]
June 5, 2006
Children Can Ride Texas State Railroad This Summer for Free
RUSK, Texas -- For the third year in a row, the Texas State Railroad State Park will offer children 12 and under a free train ride through the East Texas Piney Woods from June 1 through Sept. 30. The railroad offers the experience of riding behind an antique steam or diesel engine.
What began as a way to boost ridership during the hotter summer months when park attendance historically dipped, the "Kids Ride Free" promotion has proved a blessing both to the park and grandparents looking for a way to entertain visiting grandkids.
"The summer promotion has been a grandparent magnet," said Mark Price, TSRR's assistant superintendent. "A repetitive phone conversation that I have is with grandparents who are expecting a visit from their grandchildren in a few weeks and are thinking about bringing them out to the railroad this summer."
Last year, thanks in large part to the "Kids Ride Free" program, railroad ridership hit 53,000 for the season. Thanks to this unique summer event that ridership is almost double that of 2003 before the special promotion began.
Price says one grandfather last year brought three separate sets of grandchildren. Such zeal to introduce youngsters to what was a memorable part of most senior citizens' lives not only has filled passenger car seats, but also kept the TSRR Gift Shop cash register ringing.
Last year, Price said, the gift shop took in more than $330,000 from visitors buying wooden whistles, key chains, caps, t-shirts and myriad Texas State Railroad souvenirs.
The "Kids Ride Free" promotion allows each paying adult to treat up to five children 12-years-old and younger to a free ride on the 125-year-old railroad operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Round-trip tickets for children normally cost $11.
Persons 13 and older pay a $17 round-trip fare for regular seating and $24 for a climate-controlled railcar. This season's number of air-conditioned seats has increased to 226. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Passengers board the train at Victorian-style depots in Rusk and Palestine state parks at 11 a.m. for a 50-mile round trip through hardwood creek bottoms and rolling hills. The trip takes 90 minutes to reach the opposite station, where visitors disembark to eat, peruse depot gift shops full of train-related souvenirs and enjoy the outdoors before re-boarding. A round-trip, including a 90-minute layover, lasts four hours.
Regular train excursions take place Thursdays through Sundays in June and July and Saturdays and Sundays only beginning in August. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (800) 442-8951 (Texas only) or (903) 683-2561.
State parks adjacent to the Rusk and Palestine depots offer camping and picnicking facilities. Rusk State Park has full-hookup camping and group picnic pavilions; Palestine State Park offers water-only camping sites and a shaded picnic area. Nearby Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland offers camping as well. For Texas state park information, call (800) 792-1112.
The Texas State Railroad stages special events periodically throughout the year. On July 8, the TSRR will host a Murder Mystery that combines a performance with dinner aboard the vintage steam train. Call (903) 391-0086 for more information.
Convict labor built the original railroad in 1881 to serve the state-owned East Texas Penitentiary smelters in Rusk that manufactured cast iron for the state's 19th -century needs and today helps maintain the 32 miles of track right of way. TPWD acquired the railroad in 1972 and reinstated passenger service in 1976.
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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Carla Daws, Texas Water Development Board, (512) 463-8176; Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife, (512) 389-4453; Andy Saenz, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, (512) 239-5000 ]
June 5, 2006
Instream Flow Workshops Set for San Antonio, Dallas
AUSTIN, Texas -- Three state agencies are seeking public input in connection with workshops on June 15 in San Antonio and July 12 in Dallas to help finalize the Texas Instream Flow Program Technical Overview, a document to guide research concerning how much water should be flowing in Texas rivers to support a sound ecological environment.
The draft overview document describes scientific methodologies recommended for conducting research studies as part of the Texas Instream Flow Program. It reflects responses to a comprehensive scientific review completed by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, plus changes the agencies believe are important. Anyone can view or download the draft Technical Overview (look for the version revised 05/22/06) on the Texas Instream Flow Program website.
The Texas Water Development Board, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are jointly hosting the workshops. The agencies have retained the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at The University of Texas School of Law to help plan and facilitate the workshops.
Both workshops run 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The agenda starts with a summary presentation and question and answer session about the Texas Instream Flow Program, then moves to opportunities for stakeholder participation in studies. Two concurrent breakout sessions will be held mid-morning: one on hydrology and hydraulics and one on biology. After lunch, concurrent breakout sessions will cover physical processes and water quality. Following these, a plenary session on integration will discuss how information gathered during each technical element is used to make a flow determination. The workshops will conclude with a Next Steps section covering how stakeholder input will be used, how to make additional comments, and how the state agencies will finalize the technical overview.
The San Antonio workshop will take place June 15 at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Retama Auditorium (Room 2.02.02) at 6900 N. Loop 1604 West.
The Dallas workshop will take place July 12 at Green Auditorium, Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla Street.
Additional information about the workshops, including an agenda and driving and parking directions, are on the Texas Instream Flow Program website. Further questions may also be directed to the following staff members with the three agencies:
--Mark Wentzel, TWDB: mark.wentzel@twdb.state.tx.us, (512) 936-0823
--Kevin Mayes, TPWD: kevin.mayes@tpwd.texas.gov , (512) 754-6844, ext. 25
--Wendy Gordon, TCEQ: wgordon@tceq.state.tx.us, (512) 239-4174
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]
June 5, 2006
Operation Game Thief Adds Technology to the Battle Against Wildlife Crime
AUSTIN, Texas -- Typical Crimestoppers programs assist law enforcement officers only by offering rewards to the public for information leading to the arrest and conviction of targeted law breakers. But with broadened authority from the Texas Legislature last year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's privately funded Operation Game Thief (OGT) program is now going a step further.
OGT, Texas' Wildlife Crimestoppers program, is now working to provide game wardens with the latest in technologically advanced tools to assist in both the curtailment and prosecution of wildlife resource crimes.
The recently concluded Operation Pescador, targeting illegal commercial fishing on Falcon Reservoir and the Rio Grande River, is a good example of the immediate benefit of the implementation of this technology: 28 individuals were arrested, and 20 boats and motors and more than 18 miles of gill net and were confiscated.
The tremendous success of this operation relied, in great part, on the ability of game wardens, coming from around the state, to effectively navigate in unfamiliar territory and especially on unknown, international boundary waters.
This navigation was possible through utilization of Global Positioning referenced maps, printed on-site with sophisticated equipment provided through a grant from OGT.
In other parts of the state, cases that previously would have been rejected by prosecutors because of unclear county boundaries are now being accepted, and successfully prosecuted, because of utilization of this same technology.
In light of recent legislation requiring accreditation of any lab submitting DNA evidentiary analysis for court proceedings, OGT has provided a partial-funding grant for specialized equipment necessary to achieve accreditation for TPWD's forensics lab. When that accreditation is achieved, the lab will be the only accredited state wildlife forensics lab in the U.S., a major achievement.
Other OGT grant-provided technological inroads for game wardens include the use of side-scan sonar devices to locate and recover drowning victims, lost or abandoned equipment, and even crucial evidence hidden beneath the water's surface.
"Drownings are tragic, and sometimes days, or even weeks of searching are required before the lost loved one can be returned to the family," said Col. Pete Flores, director of law enforcement for TPWD. "This technology has the potential of helping our officers recover the victim much sooner, easing the family's burden, as well as freeing the officers to handle other duties."
Thermal imagery is the next tool coming to the warden's arsenal in the battle against violations such as night hunting, the use of illegal nets and traps in public waters and the over-harvest of aquatic resources for commercial purposes, especially in Texas coastal waters.
"In other arenas, this 'see in the dark' technology has proven invaluable both in aiding apprehensions and as an evidentiary record in court proceedings," said Flores. "It also provides the added dimension of enhanced officer safety. It is the modern-day technology necessary to keep up with the bad guys, and we're glad to have it."
The 11-member Operation Game Thief committee, which administers the OGT Fund, has authorized rewards of more than $200,000 for information about game and fish law violations since its inception in 1981.
"Clearly the public has been proven to be the vital link in the on-going battle against the exploitation of our wildlife resources," said Buddy Turner, assistant chief of wildlife enforcement for TPWD. "This is evidenced by the thousands of calls to the 800 792-GAME Reward Hotline, and the private contributions that make it possible to finally put this technology in the hands of the wardens, albeit on a limited scale."
The application of proven advanced technology to help combat the poaching problem is only a matter of money, Turner said, and the non-profit OGT continues to seek those dollars through both individual and corporate commitments.
"The Committee is pleased to be an integral part of the effort to field new technology," said OGT Committee Chairman Ray Bailey, a Houston businessman. "Our hope is that the corporate sector will become more involved with us, either through direct donation or through participation in our fundraisers like the Bandana Ball at the Hilton Post Oak Hotel on June 10, or the Claystoppers Sporting Clays event next April in Austin.
Information on both events is available by calling April Mendez, (512) 389-4381.
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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Harry Blanchet, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Fisheries Division, 225-765-2889, hblanchet@wlf.louisiana.gov ]
June 5, 2006
LWF Commission Modifies Recreational Spotted Seatrout Regulations in Southwest Louisiana
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission ratified a rule modifying recreational harvest regulations for spotted seatrout in a designated area of southwestern Louisiana at its June 1, 2006 meeting. Effective June 20, 2006, the creel limit in the designated area is reduced from 25 fish to 15 fish per person. The area affected by the rule is the same area that has a limit of no more than two fish exceeding twenty-five inches total length as part of the daily bag and possession limit.
The final rule reads as follows: Within those areas of the state, including coastal territorial waters, south of Interstate 10 from its junction at the Texas Louisiana boundary eastward to its junction with Louisiana Highway 171, south to Highway 14, and then south to Holmwood, and then south on Highway 27 through Gibbstown south to Louisiana Highway 82 at Creole and south on Highway 82 to Oak Grove, and then due south to the western shore of the Mermentau River, following this shoreline south to the junction with the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south to the limit of the state territorial sea, under the authority of the provisions of R.S. 56:325.1(A), the daily take and possession limit shall be 15 fish, regardless of where taken, with no more than two spotted seatrout exceeding 25 inches total length. Those spotted seatrout exceeding 25 inches in length shall be considered as part of the daily recreational take and possession limit.
The final rule will become effective on June 20, 2006. All other applicable rules regarding the harvest of spotted seatrout established by the commission shall be in effect, including the existing size restriction that requires all spotted seatrout retained recreationally to be at least 12 inches total length.