|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-10-09                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 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: Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs, (301) 713-3066 Ext. 178 ]
Oct. 9, 2006
NOAA Implements Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast System for Texas Gulf Coast
A new harmful algal bloom forecast system is now in place along the Gulf coast of Texas. The announcement of the ecological forecast program was made at today's meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a federal-state partnership to address critical coastal issues facing the Gulf states. The system will generate forecasts weekly to determine the current and future location and intensity of blooms, and the likely impacts to the environment.
"Because these blooms contain neurotoxins, they threaten human and ecosystem health, and can substantially impact coastal economies," said Margaret A. Davidson, director of NOAA's Coastal Services Center and the NOAA delegate to the Alliance. "Using observational data for ecological forecast systems shows the value and need for the development of an integrated ocean observing system, one that can assist in addressing the threats to our health and our economy caused by harmful algal blooms."
NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) will run the system geared to predict harmful algal blooms (HABs, or "red tides") caused by the highly toxic algae, Karenia brevis. The blooms are known to cause fish kills, shellfish toxicity, water discoloration, and respiratory distress in humans. Coastal community managers of Texas will be notified of bloom status through a bulletin NOAA will issue weekly via e-mail to registered users with natural resource management responsibilities.
Advance warning of blooms increases the ability to mitigate the impacts of these events. The harmful algal bloom forecasting system couples observations made by Texas state agencies with NOAA imagery and models to supply improved information on the location, extent, and potential for development or movement of the blooms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Harmful algal blooms most often found in the Gulf of Mexico are commonly known as "red tides," and are caused by the toxic algae Karenia brevis, They are responsible for shellfish closures, fish kills, marine mammal strandings and deaths, and respiratory distress in people.
Since 1999, under a research program designed to develop informational tools to assist coastal managers, NOAA has been working with agencies managing harmful algal bloom monitoring and impacts in the Gulf of Mexico. Using an advisory bulletin format, NOAA has been providing information to identify blooms before they are reported at the shore, and has provided assessments of the extent of the blooms allowing for more effective sampling and monitoring.
The bulletins are developed by integrating data from various ocean-observing systems, including imagery from commercial and government satellites; meteorological data from NOAA observing stations; and field data collected by state and university monitoring programs. This information is then synthesized and interpreted by an expert analyst, in order to determine the current and future location and intensity of Karenia brevis blooms, as well as their potential impacts on humans, marine mammals and fish.
Conditions are posted to the forecasting system Web page once a week during non-bloom periods and twice a week during bloom periods. When NOAA detects a possible bloom, Texas state managers are notified to conduct field sampling. If state managers confirm the bloom, then the public is informed through the forecasting Web page, the news media and other appropriate outlets.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, NOAA, and scientists from the Coastal Services Center recently met with local resource managers, tourism groups, and Chambers of Commerce in Galveston, Corpus Christi and South Padre Island to provide information on the development of the Texas forecast system.
The system created for Texas was based on the detection system that NOAA designed for Florida's Gulf coast in 2004. While the organisms are the same, Florida experiences multiple blooms annually. Texas has experienced three bloom events since 2000, including a bloom underway now on the middle Texas coast.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department currently monitors harmful algal blooms (HABs), including red tide, and regular updates are available on the department's Web site.
HABs occur in the waters of almost every U.S. coastal state. Direct economic impacts of HABs in the United States have been estimated to average $75 million annually, including impacts on public health costs, commercial fishing closures, recreation and tourism losses, and in management and monitoring costs.
In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Net:
Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasts: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/crs/habf/
NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/
TPWD: http://tpwd.texas.gov/hab/

[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Oct. 9, 2006
Texas Wildlife Manager Awarded National Honors for Innovative Approach to White-tailed Deer Management
Washington, DC -- Mitch Lockwood, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, has been awarded the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' prestigious Mark J. Reeff Memorial Award. The award, for dedication to wildlife, youth, landowners and natural resources, was presented at the Association's 2006 Annual Meeting last week in Snowmass, Colorado.
The hallmark of the Mark J. Reeff Memorial Award is to acknowledge good ideas pursued with dedication and persistence. Each year, the award is presented to an individual who is 35 years-old or younger, and has distinguished themselves by outstanding commitment to wildlife management. The award was designed by the Association to acknowledge and encourage younger professionals to "address the myriad of issues they now face, ever-increasing in range and complexity, with a spirit of innovation and determination."
Particular recognition is due to those who willingly accept more difficult challenges, and inspire others to do the same.
Lockwood was hired as the Texas White-Tailed Deer Program Leader, and within one year he was challenged with evaluating statewide deer data collection and analysis. As a result, he led the charge to implement important changes that improved the science and efficiency of deer data collection and analysis in Texas.
Lockwood re-defined sampling, and survey procedures using modern technology and software, and introduced staff to ecology-based efforts by focusing on where deer live, habitat conditions, and what they eat.
"Mitch Lockwood exemplifies why Texas Parks and Wildlife is an exceptional conservation organization and one of the top state agencies in Texas and the nation," said Robert Cook, TPWD executive director. "Mitch is an intelligent, dedicated and sincere wildlife biologist. He cares about wildlife and he cares about Texas. We have known from the beginning that Mitch is "Top Notch." It's gratifying to know that other folks recognize that also."
Earlier this year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also recognized Lockwood for his achievement in improving deer assessment methods with an Employee Recognition Award in the Innovation category.
For more information about the Mark J. Reeff Award, and to view a video presentation of Mitch Lockwood in the field, visit us on the web at www.fishwildlife.org.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies -- the organization that represents all of North America's fish and wildlife agencies -- promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues. Found on the web at www.fishwildlife.org.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
Oct. 9, 2006
Lake Tawakoni State Park Receives Donation To Build Restrooms
WILLS POINT, Texas -- The Sabine River Authority of Texas has donated $50,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to construct a new restroom facility for overnight campers at Lake Tawakoni State Park.
SRA made the donation in August in exchange for TPWD transfer of the ownership of the park's wastewater treatment plant to the authority. SRA will operate and handle maintenance of the treatment plant that serves the 351-acre park and a small subdivision on the south central lake shore in Hunt County.
"This is a win-win scenario for both agencies and the people of Texas," SRA General Manager Jerry Clark said. "SRA has been partners with TPWD at this state park since its inception and is proud to see its continued development as a premier recreation facility for the public."
State park Superintendent Ken Watson said the new quad-style restroom, which features four separate units each with a toilet, sink and shower, will be located between Campsites 37 and 38 in the White Deer camping loop.
"It will mean a whole lot less down time such as we've experienced with only one restroom facility where folks often had to wait in line for an hour each night while the restrooms were cleaned," Watson said. "We hope to have the new building delivered in February and open by Spring Break."
The state park opened in 2002 after six years in development and almost $3 million in state expenditures to provide greater recreational opportunities in northeast Texas. Lake Tawakoni State Park, which includes day use and overnight facilities, is about a 90-minute drive from Dallas.
The Sabine River Basin covers a large portion of East Texas with a population of roughly 600,000 in all or part of 21 counties, according to U. S. 2000 Census statistics. For more information about SRA, call Ann Galassi at (409) 746-2192.
On the Net:
Sabine River Authority of Texas: http://www.sra.dst.tx.us/

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
[ Additional Contacts: James King, (432) 426-2390, Ext. 2 ]
Oct. 9, 2006
Advisory Committee To Review Big Bend Ranch State Park
PRESIDIO, Texas -- A newly appointed advisory committee is taking a fresh look at one of the state's natural treasures, examining ways to improve natural and cultural resource conservation, public use and visitor access at Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Joseph B. C. Fitzsimons appointed the Big Bend Ranch State Park Advisory Committee, which held its first, organizational meeting at the park Sept. 20.
Committee members are Bob Armstrong of Austin, the former TPW and General Land Office commissioner who helped lead efforts to acquire the park for the state, Jim Carrico of Terlingua, Tyrus Fain of Marathon, Hall Hammond of San Antonio, Thomas Johnson of Austin, James King of Ft. Davis, and Fran Sage of Alpine. Another member from Presidio County will be appointed soon. Mike Hill, state parks regional director with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Fort Davis, will serve as liaison between the committee and the park staff.
The committee will examine the access needs of visitors and consider the appropriate numbers and locations of campsites and trails. It will also look at ways potential visitors can become better informed about the approximately 300,000-acre park, by far the largest in the entire state park system. Members will work with regional and state tourism partners, local communities, as well as other federal and state facilities in the area. One of the issues the committee must grapple with is how to protect park resources while trying to significantly increase public use.
At its first meeting, the committee met with department employees who presented background information on different facets of the park and issues for its future use and conservation. The Committee will review the draft Public Use Plan for the park and make recommendations on implementing the plan.
The committee elected King chair and Hammond vice chair and then organized into subcommittees to carry out its charge. The next meeting will be in early January with a conference call to be held in-between.
"We are all enthusiastic about working with great Texas Parks and Wildlife staff to increase visitors and to see the park made more accessible while protecting the fragile desert land and the site's cultural heritage," King said.
King pointed out the variety of activities possible now such as camping, horseback riding, jeep touring, hiking, mountain biking, and various workshops available several times a year, as well as the longhorn cattle drive twice a year. He went on to say other activities such as star-gazing, birding, educational outings, geological study and expanded public-private partnerships could become future possibilities.
"Big Bend Ranch State Park is an undiscovered jewel of the state park system, and we want more people to come visit and experience this wilderness treasure," King concluded.
For more information about Big Bend Ranch State Park, see the park Web page.
On the Net: