|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-08-14                                    |
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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]
Aug. 14, 2006
Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo Celebrates 15 Years Oct. 7-8
AUSTIN, Texas -- America's largest free, family-oriented festival of the outdoors celebrates its 15 year anniversary at the Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8. The annual event that began as a tribute to hunting's role in conservation in 1992 today includes fishing, shooting sports, state parks, Texas history, rock climbing, biking, birding, paddling and many other activities, all free to the public.
"Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo emphasizes recreation and having fun, because we believe that's the key to getting people involved in conserving our natural and cultural resources," said Robert L. Cook, executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which produces the Expo as a public service with the help of sponsors and conservation organizations. "If you've never tried these activities, it's a great chance to see and do it all in a safe setting with expert guidance. In everything, you'll find a message of stewardship, the idea that we all have role to play to safeguard our heritage."
Several new activities will tempt visitors of all ages to Expo XV.
The Casting Kids activity in the Fishing and Aquatic area invites young people ages 7-to-14 to test their flipping, pitching and casting skills, learn about fishing, conservation and protection of the great outdoors and win prizes. Participants will also have a chance at competing for a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships and prizes to be given away nationwide. This new Expo activity is presented by the Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, part of a new statewide youth outreach initiative the group launched this year in partnership with TPWD.
For the first time, the nationally-known nonprofit group Leave No Trace will teach Expo visitors the seven ethical principals of responsible outdoor use in the Camping and Outdoor Skills area. Leave No Trace principals include Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Others.
A companion activity for youngsters will take place in the Little Critter's Corner area. P.E.A.K. (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids) will introduce young children ages 6-to-12 to simple Leave No Trace principles.
Also new this year are presentations about outdoor equipment and clothing geared especially for women and people with smaller physical frames. Many items from kayaks to shotguns are now available tailored to women's needs. These seminars will be presented by Academy Sports and Outdoors in the Main Tent.
For the serious angler, the new Strike Team presentation will offer tips and techniques for fishing in Texas and across the country. Berkley will present this activity with interactive demonstrations designed to show the angler the science and technology behind fishing products. Journals, knot cards and samples will be available.
The new Texas Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) tent in Camping, Outdoor Skills and RV area will explain this new state program to create or improve OHV venues that provide safe and legal family-oriented trail riding and camping opportunities in Texas. Enthusiasts can learn where to ride and hear about plans and proposals for new trails and OHV.
Nearby visitors will find the latest on recreational vehicle travel opportunities at Texas State Parks, including where to go and what's offered at more than 70 state parks with RV facilities.
Also new this year, Expo Recycles! Through a new partnership with Keep Austin Beautiful, the event will recycle thousands of plastic beverage containers, with KAB providing receptacles and volunteers.
Longtime visitors may notice the Expo grounds look different this year. Notably, the arena for the popular sporting dog demonstrations and the live raptor Birds of Prey presentation by John Karger of Last Chance Forever has been relocated to the north side of the grounds near the Wet Zone paddling area. This allows organizers to consolidate and better present Wildlife and Law Enforcement exhibits and activities.
The Expo Friday night banquet from 6:30-10 p.m. Oct. 6* is moving off site for the first time in 15 years to the new Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort on Highway 71 east of Austin. This upscale Expo tradition raises money for conservation causes, featuring live music and a sumptuous Texas-style feast. In the past, it has been attended by top elected officials, sports and media celebrities and movers and shakers in the world of conservation. The banquet auction will feature items like a guided hunt with baseball legend Nolan Ryan, a lady's diamond pendant and a New Zealand safari. This year's banquet honors Joe McBride of Austin for his many years of contribution to the conservation cause. Tickets cost $100 in advance, $150 at the door. The banquet is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact Kelli Sellers with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation at (214) 720-1478, ext 205.
All events on Saturday and Sunday are free, as are water and air-conditioned shuttle bus service and parking. Although food may be brought in, coolers are discouraged because of the long walk to the grounds. Special shuttles on site will serve people with disabilities. Sorry, no pets allowed. Visitors are advised to bring cameras and sunscreen, and a little cash can be handy to buy food or outdoor gear and apparel.
Expo remains free to the public through the support of major sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch, Clear Channel Austin, HOLT CAT, Recuerdo, The Dow Chemical Company, Time Warner Cable, and Toyota. Other sponsors include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, Careco Multimedia, Inc., ChevronTexaco, Farm Credit, Highland Mall, Arby's of Central Texas, Austin Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Boone & Crockett Club, Briley Manufacturing, CEMEX, Crosman Air Guns, Lower Colorado River Authority, McBride's, Shikar Safari Club International Foundation, Shoot Where You Look, Temple-Inland, and Weatherby Foundation International.
Out-of-towners looking for a place to stay can call the Austin Convention and Visitor's Bureau at (512) 478-0098 for hotel and motel information. To make reservations at a Central Texas state park, call (512) 389-8900 or book online.
There is limited free parking near the grounds, but the best way to get to the Expo is to catch a free shuttle bus at Highland Mall (Foley's side) near I-35 and Highway 290. If rain shuts down on-site parking, all visitors must catch shuttle buses, which run from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
For more information about Expo, including maps and directions, visit the TPWD Web site or call (800) 792-1112.
* Correction, Aug. 17, 2006: The original version of this news release incorrectly stated the date of the banquet. The banquet will be held Oct. 6, 2006. (Return to corrected item.)
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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]
Aug. 14, 2006
State Parks Advisory Committee Readies Final Report
AUSTIN, Texas -- On the morning of Aug. 24, Texas State Parks Advisory Committee Chairman John Montford will present the committee's final recommendations regarding state park funding to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters at 4200 Smith School Road in southeast Austin.
Streaming audio from the commission briefing will be broadcast via the TPWD Web site. Immediately following the briefing, Montford and other advisory committee members will be available on site to answer news media questions.
TPW Commission Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons appointed the advisory committee, seeking recommendations on four topics. These charges include exploring funding options for the state park system; considering whether any existing units of the state park system might be operated by more appropriate entities; the role of public-private partnerships in parks, including concessions, sponsorships and incentive based solutions; and options to accomplish goals for state and local parks in the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, TPWD's 10-year operating plan.
Committee members and their subcommittee assignments are listed below.
Committee Chairman: John Montford of San Antonio. Regional Vice-President, AT&T; former Texas Tech University chancellor; former state senator from Lubbock who cosponsored legislation that switched state park funding from the state cigarette tax to a portion of the state sales tax attributed to sporting goods in 1993.
Funding Subcommittee. Chair: Andrew Sansom of Austin, Director, River Systems Institute at Texas State University; former TPWD executive director; former Nature Conservancy of Texas executive director. Members: George Bristol of Austin, Texas Coalition for Conservation president; former member, National Parks Foundation; Farms & Ranch Lands Conservation Program steering committee. Hector Gutierrez of El Paso, El Paso Electric executive vice-president-external affairs; former Managing Director of HILLCO PARTNERS; senior marketing and sales executive for SBC Corporation for 19 years; served as then-Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry's Senior Advisor for Legislative Affairs during the 1999 session. Brad Locker of Brownwood, sporting goods manufacturer representative with W.L. Carter Company.
Legislative Subcommittee. Chair: Clyde Alexander of San Antonio, former state representative from Athens. Members: George Bristol. Brad Locker. Al Henry of Houston, former TPW commissioner. Ann Lents of Houston, president, Park People (Houston); Center for Houston's Future president and CEO; serves on boards of Scenic America and Houston Wilderness; former partner with Vinson & Elkins, practiced antitrust, securities, and commercial trial law. Michael Massey of Richardson, City of Richardson parks and recreation director.
Third Party and Private Donations Subcommittee. Chair: Sandy McNabb of San Antonio, businessman, interested in historic resources, past service to the Rock Art Foundation and Witte Museum in San Antonio. Members: Carter Smith of San Antonio, Nature Conservancy of Texas director, former TPWD staff. Beth McDonald of Austin, Texans for State Parks president, long involvement with the National Association of CCC Alumni. Ann Hamilton of Houston, Houston Endowment grants manager. David Woodcock of College Station, Texas A&M University professor of architecture, long involvement with Texas historic sites.
Publicity/Marketing Subcommittee. Chair: Jeff Rogers of Dallas, partner in Hampton/Rogers, a media relations and production company. Members: Paul Serff of Austin, president of three Texas travel organizations: Texas Travel Industry Association, Texas Festivals and Events Association and Texas Nature Tourism; board member of Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and serves on its Legislative Affairs Committee and serves as vice-chair of the Tourism Works for America Committee. Dianne Schoch of Austin, extensive fundraising experience with the University of Texas and Austin area nonprofits.
A new fact sheet on state park funding 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 ]
Aug. 14, 2006
Dove Season Outlook Fair as Drought Conditions Prevail
AUSTIN, Texas -- Come August, dove hunters become creatures of habit; intently aware of silhouettes on power lines and pastures with bright yellow sunflowers. They track the bird's swift, erratic flight with imaginary shotguns.
Pre-game warmup exercises.
This year, hunters have had a fairly light preseason workout and can anticipate an average dove season, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department dove program leader Jay Roberson.
This year's dove call count index, which measures dove breeding population changes, shows a decline statewide from last year's surveys. Roberson cites continued dry conditions throughout the core dove range in Texas for the second consecutive year as the main reason for the drop in doves calling during the surveys, with the southern region of the state seeming to have been hit the hardest.
Biologists have been conducting roadside call counts each spring since 1966, driving along the same 133 transect routes and stopping routinely to listen for the bird's distinctive call, and this year's estimates are 18 percent below the long term average. Roberson said drought isn't completely to blame for decreased mourning dove populations.
"It's something that seems to have been going on for a long time at a rate of just under one percent a year and a lot of biologists believe it's habitat loss," Roberson said. "This said, doves are still an extremely abundant species and numerous flights of 12 to 40 doves have been seen around Austin late in the afternoon, going to and from feeding areas. Also, whitewings are increasing in numbers across the state.
"Whitewings are not impacted as much as mourning dove because of their adaptation to urban areas," Roberson said. "They rely more on supplemental food sources from backyard feeders and although the fields adjacent to urban areas will be just as dry as those in rural areas, whitewings should continue to provide good hunting opportunities this year." In 2005, the whitewing population in Texas was estimated to be 2.8 million
Dove season in the North Zone is set for Sept. 1-Oct. 30, with a 15-bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves; the Central Zone runs Sept. 1-Oct. 30 and reopens Dec. 26-Jan. 4, with a 12-bird bag and not more than two white-tipped doves; and the South Zone is set for Sept. 22-Nov. 12, reopening Dec. 26-Jan. 12 with a 12 bird bag but not more than two white-tipped doves. Possession limit is twice the daily bag.
The Special South Texas Whitewing Zone, which now encompasses land west of I-35 and south of U. S. Highway 90, is open to white-winged dove afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting the first two Saturdays and Sundays in September. The daily bag limit is 12 birds, not more than four (4) mourning doves and two (2) white-tipped doves.
If current range conditions persist, say biologists, hunters should expect to find doves concentrating near watering holes and preferred food sources such as annual weeds and agricultural seed crops
"If the drought intensifies and birds are concentrated around water, some hunters may not perceive a drop in dove densities," noted Roberson. "I would recommend hunters scout for birds using sunflower fields near permanent open water."
However, some areas have large amounts of failed grain crops standing in the fields. When landowners till these crops into the soil will help determine dove distribution and concentration. Most dove hunters know that dry conditions can produce some of the best hunting situations for those who do their scouting.
The reduction in mourning doves could be offset in some areas by the expansion of the Eurasian collared dove, an exotic non-game species that resembles a whitewing except for a distinctive black marking on its neck. There is no bag limit or season restriction on collared dove, but Roberson recommends hunters retain a wing for identification purposes.
"Collared dove have expanded faster in 10 years than whitewings did in 25," Roberson noted. "A lot of hunters enjoy hunting them; they are a larger bird and good to eat. I equate them to rock pigeons; a good way for a kid to learn to shoot in the off season, but you have to be careful because they do co exist with mourning dove and Inca dove."
Hunters are also reminded to be on the lookout for banded birds. As part of a research effort to monitor movements of mourning doves, some birds have been marked with metal leg bands containing a unique number and a toll free telephone number (800-327-BAND or 2263) that hunters can call to report the band. Bands may also be reported on the Internet at (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/). Hunters may keep the bands. It only takes a minute and doesn't cost a cent and hunters receive a certificate of appreciation that identifies when and where the dove was banded.
"We've banded about 1,000 mourning doves per year for last three years," said Roberson. "The return rates in Texas have been disappointing, less than 100 bands last year and only half of those were from Texas banded birds. The information we gain from band returns is valuable and we're urging hunters to call when they take a banded dove."
Hunters are also cautioned that a valid Texas hunting license and this is the second year that a state migratory game bird stamp is also required for doves, waterfowl and sandhill cranes.
When buying licenses and stamps, hunters are also reminded to tell the license agent to provide the "HIP" (Harvest Information Program, a federally mandated survey of migratory bird hunters) certification required to hunt doves. Hunter education certification is also required, depending on your age; check the Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations booklet for details.
Dove hunters should take note they may only use "plugged" shotguns capable of holding no more than three shotshells.
For $48, the price of an Annual Public Hunting Permit from TPWD, hunters can access more than a million acres of public hunting lands, including 147 units ranging in size from 50 to 2,000 acres and covering more than 55,000 acres leased primarily for hunting dove and other small game. TPWD's public hunting program leased the land using money generated by permit sales.
While public hunting lands can be found throughout the state, most of the dove and small game leases occur along the I-35 and I-10 corridors within easy driving distance of the major metropolitan areas. Some areas offer special hunting opportunity for youth.
For the latest dove hunting conditions across Texas, check out TPWD's Weekly Migratory Game Bird Report on the Web at http://tpwd.texas.gov/ starting Aug. 31.

[ 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]
Aug. 14, 2006
El Paso Workshop Geared To Small Acreage Landowners
EL PASO, Texas -- A workshop to be held Sept. 9 will help West Texas landowners learn more about available tools to manage wildlife habitat and diversify income on smaller properties between two and 2,000 acres.
The workshop is part of a statewide series designed to address the growing problem of Texas rural lands being fragmented into smaller tracts, often involving urban-based owners who are interested in wildlife conservation but may lack experience in wildlife or land management.
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.
The El Paso workshop will focus on resources, tools and programs to help landowners achieve their individual goals while managing property to benefit wildlife.
Workshop topics include evaluating habitat, covering soils, plants, and water requirements for wildlife; restoration ecology, such as controlling erosion and invasive plants, grazing rotation and managing for wildlife habitat, featuring strategies for game and non-game animals; and programs that assist landowners, including technical guidance, collaborative planning for wildlife, hunting leases, nature tourism and wildlife tax valuation (>100 acres). Local wildlife professionals from TPWD and other organizations will give presentations regarding habitat and species management techniques, wildlife tax valuation and other topics at the workshop.
"The loss of habitat and wildlife in Texas is directly proportional to urbanization, land fragmentation and the introduction of exotic (non-native) species," said Lois Balin, TPWD urban wildlife biologist in El Paso. "Landowners have the distinctive ability to assist in restoring habitat and wildlife diversity by participating in one of the many private landowner programs available. This workshop will provide the foundation of resources and tools needed to help landowners manage their property for the benefit of wildlife while supplementing their income."
TPWD and the Texas Cooperative Extension are sponsoring the event, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sept. 9 at the A&M Research Center, 1380 A&M Circle in El Paso.
The cost for the workshop is $25 per person or $40 per couple, which covers lunch, refreshments and materials. Registration is required by Sept. 4 to ensure that organizers have sufficient workshop materials for attendees. For more information and reservations, contact Lois Balin at (915) 774-9603 or elpasowild@aol.com 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 ] [SL]
Aug. 14, 2006
New Hunting, Fishing Licenses on Sale Aug. 15
AUSTIN, Texas -- New hunting and fishing licenses for 2006-07 will be available beginning Tuesday, Aug. 15, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding customers that all current annual hunting and fishing licenses expire on Aug. 31.
Although there are no changes in license requirements this year, hunters need to keep in mind a couple of key requirements -- hunter education certification and game bird stamps.
In addition to a hunting license, all wingshooters will need to purchase a game bird stamp.
The white-winged dove stamp and waterfowl stamp were combined last year into a single Migratory Game Bird Stamp ($7), which will be required to hunt all migratory game birds, including ducks, geese, white-winged doves, mourning doves, white-tipped doves, sandhill cranes, woodcock, snipe, rails, coots and gallinules.
The turkey stamp was replaced by the Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7), which will be required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chicken.
Anyone who purchases the Super Combo license package automatically gets these needed stamps.
In addition to the migratory stamp endorsement, Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required of all migratory game bird hunters. HIP certification will be printed on the license at the time of sale only after the purchaser answers a few brief migratory bird questions. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified to hunt migratory birds and these new stamp changes are automatically included in all lifetime licenses.
Any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 who is at least 17 years old must pass the hunter education training course to legally hunt in Texas or obtain a hunter education deferral.
The deferral option allows people 17 years of age or older a one-time only extension to complete the state's hunter education requirements. The individual must purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the "Deferral Option # 166, and must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older who is also licensed to hunt in Texas. The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good for one license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course.
This option is not available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.
Also again this year, TPWD is waiving all fees for hunting and fishing licenses for Texas residents currently on active military duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, including members of the Reserves or National Guard called up on active duty. A Texas resident is defined as a person who has resided continuously in the state for more than six months prior to applying for a license. Active duty military personnel must show a current military identification card and proof of Texas residency. The free military license may be obtained at any license vendor location, but not by phone or on the Internet. Active duty military personnel will get a "Super Combo" Hunting and All-Water Fishing Package (Type 510), which includes all five state stamp endorsements (archery, freshwater fishing, and migratory game bird, saltwater fishing with a red drum tag and upland game bird). The Federal Waterfowl (duck) Stamp is not included.
Texas issues 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through 28 TPWD field offices, most state parks and at many retailers across Texas.
Hunters and anglers can also purchase licenses by calling (800) 895-4248. The phone license operation serves both Texans and non-residents, enabling hunters and anglers to buy licenses by phone using a major credit card. Call center hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday -- Friday.
A license confirmation number is issued at the time of purchase for online and phone orders, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that requires a tag. A $5 convenience fee is charged for ordering online or by phone.
Wherever licenses are sold, several other items for the 2006-07 season are also available, including Annual Public Hunting Permits and entries in Big Time Texas Hunts drawings.
The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more guided hunts with food and lodging provided. Proceeds are dedicated to providing more public hunting opportunities and funding wildlife conservation and/or research programs in Texas. Entries in the Big Time Texas Hunts drawings are $10 each. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, and entries may be purchased as gifts for others. Purchasers must be 17 years old or older. Information about the Big Time Texas Hunts and an entry form is available at http://tpwd.texas.gov/bigtime.
The entry deadline on all categories is midnight Nov. 1. Entries may be purchased year-round, but entries received after the deadline will be entered in the drawing for the following year.
The $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit allows hunters access to about one million acres of public hunting lands, including land leased exclusively for hunting dove, pheasant, waterfowl and other small game. Youth younger than age 17 may hunt on public hunting lands without the permit if they have the $6 Special Resident Hunting license and are hunting with a permitted adult. A Public Hunting Lands map booklet and supplement of dove lease maps will be mailed within a week of purchase of the permit at retail outlets; however, the map booklet and supplement can be obtained immediately by purchasing the permit at a TPWD law enforcement office.