|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-12-11                                    |
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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 ] [RM]
Dec. 11, 2006
Rio Grande Valley State Park New World Birding Center Site
WESLACO, Texas -- Build it and the birds will come. That could well be the mantra of the newest wing of the World Birding Center -- Estero Llano Grande State Park -- that officially opened this past June.
Texas' newest state park covers almost 200 acres of former farmland and a dry lakebed that have been resurrected as desirable wildlife habitat by the creation of ponds, marshes and South Texas thorn scrub once commonly found throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Since it opened, the state park has attracted not only a healthy variety of resident and migratory birdlife, but also more than 2,800 bird watchers and other outdoors enthusiasts.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Ducks Unlimited and others spent six years and more than $3 million planting native trees and shrubs, creating wetlands habitat like that once commonly found throughout the Rio Grande Valley and building boardwalks, picnic facilities and an environmentally friendly Visitor Center.
What distinguishes Estero Llano Grande State Park from other WBC sites is its extensive wetlands environment, anchored by a section of the Arroyo Colorado that flows along the park's south and southeastern boundaries, according to Marcy Martinez, park superintendent.
"We have a good variety of wetlands habitat varying in depth from six inches to two feet whose levels we control, as well as Alligator Lake that is about eight feet deep," Martinez, a Valley native, said. "We have a marsh in the back and some canals in the middle of the park, so there's plenty of water to draw lots of birds."
When a rare species shows up as happened recently when a northern jacana took up residence near the Visitor Center, the word spreads like a rifle shot through the world's birding community. Such sightings have helped fuel a multimillion-dollar nature tourism industry in the Rio Grande Valley, one of North America's most popular birding areas.
Estero Llano Grande is the buckle on a belt of nine WBC sites strung along 120 miles of river road from historic Roma on the west to South Padre Island. It is the latest of seven sites to welcome the public. The South Padre Island and Resaca de la Palma (Brownsville) sites are expected to open within the next year or so, adding up to thousands of acres of preserved native South Texas, or Tamaulipan, brushlands and riparian woodlands as a model of conservation and ecotourism development.
Martinez says that in addition to creating six impoundments, workers replaced old plumbing, and created habitat for wildlife by planting 3,000 native trees and shrubs, such as Texas ebony, acacia, anaqua, Montezuma bald cypress, cedar elm and sabal palm.
Visitors enter the park along a brick walkway lined with native flora. Markers describe many of the exotic-looking shrubs, wildflowers and trees. A short, wooden boardwalk leads to the Visitor Center, where a $3 per person entry fee is collected. Children 12 and under get in free. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Park developers have done an excellent job of erecting observation decks, boardwalks and more than three miles of wheelchair-accessible trails and primitive trails to provide an up-close view of avifauna and other wildlife. By year's end, Martinez said, two new footbridges should be in place to allow easier access from the heart of the park to Alligator Lake and an adjacent 46-acre U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service tract along the Llano Grande.
Estero Llano Grande State Park shares many of the same speciality birds with the WBC headquarters at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in nearby Mission. Commonly seen species include the great kiskadee, plain chacalaca, Altamira oriole, green jay, groove-billed ani, tropical parula and three different kinds of kingfishers. Grebes, coots, black-bellied whistling ducks, and an assortment of wading birds such as the great blue heron, roseate spoonbill and long-billed dowitcher, also are plentiful. Rabbits, frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, raccoons and the occasional bobcat are just some of wildlife that may be spotted.
The well-stocked State Park Store carries a number of educational items and site-specific merchandise, such as binoculars, birding books, bird feeders and hand-painted bird Christmas ornaments.
The park derives its name from the original Spanish land grant for the area known as Llano Grande, which means Large Grassland or Plain. An estero is a low-lying area of land often flooded by rain or overflow from a nearby river. So, Estero Llano Grande means "the wet place on the big plain."
Estero Llano Grande State Park is located in Weslaco just off FM 1015 about two miles south of U.S. Highway 83. It is one of 113 state parks, historic sites and state natural areas that make up the Texas State Park System.

[ 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: Lori Valadez, USDA/NRCS, (254) 742-9811, lori.valadez@tx.usda.gov ]
Dec. 11, 2006
NRCS Texas Offers $73 Million for Conservation, Dec. 15 Deadline
TEMPLE, Texas -- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is seeking grant applications from landowners for conservation cost-share programs for 2007. NRCS has nearly $72.5 million for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and $665,000 for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).
Agricultural producers interested in funding for 2007 need to apply at their local NRCS office by Dec. 15, 2006.
EQIP gives farmers and ranchers financial and technical assistance to install or implement structural and management conservation practices on eligible agricultural land. Over the last four years, $7.4 million has been directed toward four Texas EQIP wildlife resource areas that benefit quail, prairie chickens, longleaf pines and other declining species. These funds have cost-shared brush management, range reseeding, prescribed burns and reforestation while paying landowners incentives for good wildlife and range management.
For 2007 an additional $2.13 million has been allocated to five areas. For more information on the five Wildlife Habitat EQIP areas and EQIP priorities for individual counties, visit the Texas EQIP website.
WHIP provides technical assistance and financial incentives to landowners interested in working with declining wildlife and habitats on private lands. This year NRCS joins other state and national resource agencies in focusing critical habitat spending through the use of key points from TPWD's Texas Wildlife Action Plan in their WHIP ranking system.
NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, EQIP and WHIP applications must be made by the Dec. 15, the cutoff date to be considered for funding in 2007. Applications made after the application deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle.
On the Net:
EQIP and WHIP program info: http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/
EQIP signup by county: http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/EQIP/07/index.html

[ 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 ] [AR]
Dec. 11, 2006
Flat Out Fishing Offers Tips for Novice and Expert Anglers
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will host the first of two special Flat Out Fishing events in Corpus Christi to help anglers start the new year with an edge. The fourth annual Flat Out Fishing event kicks off at 8 a.m., Sat., Jan. 27, at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The event will be held at the university's Science and Technology Building in Room 104. The second event will be in Lake Jackson on February 24, 2007.
These day-long events includes seminars and presentations from noted guides and experts covering a variety of bay, surf, kayak, fly and offshore fishing techniques
"Flat Out Fishing is full day of professional fishing seminars for beginning to experienced fishermen to learn how to become better anglers in a relaxed and friendly setting free of distractions and plenty of opportunities for interaction with the presenters. And the speakers are some of the most knowledgeable authorities in their field in Texas." said TPWD Coastal Fisheries Outreach Specialist Art Morris.
Morris added that the event benefits the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation's abandoned crab trap removal program fund. That program has removed almost 20,000 abandoned crab traps from coastal waters since 2002.
Flat Out Fishing -- Corpus Christi begins with a fishing-over-seagrass presentation at 8 a.m. and continues through 5 p.m. with the conclusion of Capt. Robert Zapata's trophy trout fishing seminar.
Other scheduled speakers include Pat Hunt on using natural baits, Jim Dailey on saltwater fly fishing tactics, Nick Meyer on surf fishing Padre Island and Jeff Hermann on kayak fishing. TPWD's Bill Balboa will offer a presentation on sargassum and tripletail, and TAMU-CC's John Adams will help attendees understand tides and currents.
Participants will be eligible for door prizes and "goody bags."
The cost is $20 per person or $30 per couple, payable by cash, check or money order at the door. Registration fees are tax-deductible. Children under 17 may attend free.
Seating is limited to the first 100 participants. To register for the Corpus Christi event, contact Art Morris at 361-825-3356 or by e-mail at art.morris@tpwd.texas.gov. To register for the Lake Jackson event contact Bobby Miller at (281) 534-0110 or by email at bobby.miller@tpwd.texas.gov.
Flat Out Fishing is underwritten by Anheuser-Busch and sponsored by CCA Texas, the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau, Daiichi, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Texas Department of Agriculture, www.Coastalanglers.com, the Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program.

[ 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 ] [AR]
Dec. 11, 2006
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Hunter sleeps while everyone searches for him
On November 27, a Fannin County game warden was notified by Fannin County Sheriff's Department of a lost hunter on the Caddo National Grasslands. The hunter, a 76-year-old diabetic with a heart condition, was late returning to camp. Scent dogs were used all night to locate the man, but he didn't turn up. When daylight approached, searchers expected the worst and horses were brought in to begin canvassing the area for a body. At 10:30 a.m., however, the elderly hunter walked back into camp. He said he had gotten lost and then took his medication which made him sleepy. He failed to wake up from all the noise made during the search.
Deadly hunting accident still under investigation
On November 25, Red River County game wardens investigated a hunting accident. The deceased, a 32-year-old male, was found by his uncle on their deer lease. The subject had been shot and died at the scene. His death is under investigation.
Close call leaves only a finger hurt
A Tom Green County game warden investigated a hunting accident Nov. 24. The grandson had been handling the victim's shotgun before placing it back into the case without checking the safety. The grandfather picked up the gun case to inspect the weapon, but the case was unzipped. The shotgun fell out and the butt of the weapon struck the bed of the truck. The gun fired, hitting the grandfather in the right hand, doing extensive damage to the right index finger.
Don't blame it on the 5-year-old
In late November, while patrolling the Alabama Creek WMA, a Trinity County game warden came across a man and his 5-year-old son with a five-point buck. The man stated his son had killed the deer earlier that day. Upon checking their hunting licenses, he noticed the father had used all of his tags and showed to have killed a buck in Alabama Creek. Upon turning them loose, two other men came out of the forest and stated they had heard the adult male shoot and saw him drag the deer out. The warden caught up with the hunter who confessed to killing the deer. Cases are pending.
Hunter takes aim at helicopter
In early November hunters were calling in to Tom Green County game wardens to complain of a low-flying helicopter that was scaring deer and ruining their hunt. On Nov. 7, the helicopter's pilot was located at a local airport. Upon further questioning, the wardens learned that one of the complaining hunters had given the pilot permission to conduct low altitude flights and land on his property. This was confirmed with the landowner who stated that he had simply forgotten. The pilot said he knew he had messed up when his student pointed out a hunter looking at them through his rifle's scope. The hunter's aim promptly put the helicopter back in the hangar.
Getting a late start on hunter's education
A Jeff Davis County game warden was alerted Nov. 6 of a suspicious vehicle spotted on private property. The warden obtained a license plate number for the vehicle and located the two suspects. The men, ages 56 and 67 admitted to staying overnight on the private land and hunting mule deer. They said they decided to go deer hunting after buying a hunting license at a local store. Neither individual had ever hunted before. The warden explained the term "open season" to the two.
Warden gets honest answers from young boy
While patrolling the Davy Crocket National Forest Nov. 4, a Trinity County game warden was informed of a killed, untagged dear. At their camp, the warden spoke with the subjects, three adults and one youth. In response to their hunting, the adults said they had not seen anything. When the warden asked the young boy, however, he excitedly told him about the deer and asked the warden if he wanted to see it. The deer was hidden in the woods in a cooler back behind the camp area covered with a blanket. The hunter who killed the deer did not have a hunting license and the other two hunters had a license but no hunter's education. Three cases filed.
Deer stand or a free night's stay?
A lease hunter attempted to get in his deer stand Nov. 4 and encountered a trespasser who was already in it. A Montgomery County game warden was called, and the trespassing man was escorted off the property. After placing the suspect in handcuffs and interviewing him, it was learned that the man was homeless and was actually living in different stands on the lease. Other lease hunters had noticed several stands on the large lease had been tampered with in the past few weeks. The suspect had an extensive criminal and mental health history. He was released to a family member; case pending.
A team-effort rescue
On the night of Nov. 1, Calhoun County's game warden received a call from the sheriff's office concerning five overdue boaters who had launched from the Port Lavaca City Harbor. Port Lavaca Fire Department and Coast Guard assisted in the search. The capsized boaters were pulled from the water and returned to shore. One subject was hospitalized with hypothermia.
Don't forget to get a receipt
Inspections on Falcon Lake Oct. 28 turned up a boat with no serial number on the motor. Under questioning, the operator stated he had purchased the motor for $1,800 cash at a local shop and was not given a bill of sale or certificate of title for the motor. The boat, trailer and motor were seized pending further investigation by TPWD Marine Theft Investigators.
Pretty sure it's not for arts and crafts
While patrolling the Lubbock playa lakes for fishing violations Oct. 29, Lubbock wardens encountered three individuals stripping a large amount of copper wire in a secluded area. With a rash of wire thefts reported from construction sites around the Lubbock area, the wardens were suspicious of the stories they were told. Lubbock police department detectives were called on to assist and the investigation is continuing.
"We're dove, I mean, duck hunting"
On opening day of duck season, a Bell County game warden noticed a suspicious vehicle parked outside the corps of engineers land outside Lake Belton. The two occupants from the vehicle were walking along the land with shotguns. Assuming they were duck hunters, the warden asked if they had any luck hunting ducks. The two adamantly stated they were not duck hunting but dove hunting. The warden pointed out that dove season was closed. Cases pending.
Scouts try to earn "unnecessary risk" badge
Game wardens from Burleson and Lee Counties were called to Somerville Lake Oct. 27 in reference to six canoeists who had capsized in high winds. The national weather service reported winds at 30 m.p.h. with gusts up to 40 m.p.h. Abandoned canoes and paddles were found floating in the lake. The occupants of the canoes were eventually found by the south end of the lake by a passerby. The three adults and three teenagers were members of a scouting group. Wardens cautioned the group's leaders about putting the lives in danger in bad weather conditions. No merit badges were issued.
Warden says God doesn't excuse roadside hunting
A Bell County game warden was setting on one his prime spots for road hunters Oct. 25 when a driver approached and shot an armadillo off the road. When the suspect was apprehended, he advised the warden that he was killing it for the oil of the armadillo to treat a medical condition, and that God told him it was okay. The suspect was informed that God forget to let the wardens know. The case is pending.