|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-01-16                                    |
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 16, 2007
Brays Bayou/Mason Park Project Earns National Acclaim
HOUSTON -- A created freshwater/tidal marsh beside Brays Bayou at Mason Park on Houston's east side has claimed several regional environmental awards and is also featured in Building Better II, a Sierra Club report profiling 10 outstanding examples of innovative and environmentally sensitive ways to manage stormwater.
The 3.5-acre Brays Bayou Wetland Partnership at Houston's Mason Park recently received a Gulf Guardian Award from the Gulf of Mexico Program, a non-regulatory, inclusive partnership formed by the Environmental Protection Agency to provide a broad geographic focus on the major environmental issues in the Gulf.
The project began in 2001 when the Harris County Flood Control District was planning to widen Brays Bayou at Mason Park and met with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff to discuss environmental impacts. The flood control district welcomed the TPWD idea to create wetlands in conjunction with the project.
The department then sought and received an EPA grant to develop the biological design and collect and grow marsh plants for the project. Department employees also designed and placed educational signage for park visitors viewing the storm water treatment and wildlife habitat marsh. Employees worked with a variety of partner groups to bring the multi-year project to fruition.
Many partners were brought in, including the Texas A&M University system. Their Texas Coastal Watershed Program had already received a grant from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program to develop a wetlands for stormwater clean-up demonstration project and they ended up not only developing the hydrologic design of the wetlands, but also leading the effort to bring in community volunteers to collect, propagate and install plants for the marsh. More than a dozen agencies and organizations ended up participating in the project.
"Some of the value of the project has also been in bringing all these different parties together," said John Jacob of the Coastal Watershed Program. "The path has been laid for future collaborative work."
The Mason Park project features both a stormwater treatment and a tidal wetland. Stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution because it picks up toxic chemicals from streets and other paved areas and carries them into waterways. Also, sewer overflows associated with poor stormwater management can carry untreated sewage into streams and bayous. The tidal wetlands were designed to not only clean water flowing in Brays Bayou, but also provide habitat to herons, egrets, ospreys, and many types of marine animals such as white shrimp and blue crabs.
TPWD's Coastal Fisheries Division had sampled near the site and found that a surprisingly high number of shrimp has moved up into Houston's bayous in recent years and wanted to provide some additional habitat at the site for marine organisms.
A variety of plants were introduced to help remove pollutants from stormwater that flows into the marsh from a nearby neighborhood. Marissa Sipocz, a coastal restoration specialist with the Texas Coastal Watershed Program in the Houston area, said that the plants were chosen to tolerate some salinity, to be able to recover from destruction by nutria and carp, and for their attractiveness.
"I chose some plants with showy flowers or seeds, like irises, swamp and spider lilies, and bull rushes," Sipocz said. "Something is interesting in every season." Sipocz said the plants were gathered from wetlands within 50 miles of the site. "It is important to use field collected plants to maintain genetic integrity," Sipocz said.
High school students from Chavez and Austin High Schools were major participants in the project. Working with Texas Master Naturalists and the Park People, the students helped collect wetland plants, took care of them until the area was ready, and then, sometimes working in waist-deep water, helped plant them.
Sipocz said that the area was planted in stages from October of 2005 through this past September. As expected, many of the first plants were eaten by animals, but, "like we planned, the plants came back from stubs," she said.
"We have already measured improvements in water quality," Sipocz said. She estimated the value of donated services for the project at at least $2 million.
The wetland was officially dedicated on October 27, 2006. It includes interpretive signage to educate visitors about the project's environmental benefits.
Eric Olson, the Sierra Club staffer who selected the projects featured in Building Better II, said that the Houston project was noteworthy for several reasons.
"We liked it because it returned nature to an urban area, because it involved so many community groups, and because it is a model that can be replicated elsewhere," Olson said.
The Sierra Club report also mentions other projects from the flood control district that begin to reverse years of environmental damage to area waterways.
Earlier this year, Harris County Flood Control District, Texas Cooperative Extension/Texas Sea Grant, and the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department also won The Park People's Partnership Award for their efforts on the project.
The project also recently received a Gold Medal award from The Texas Council of Engineering Companies for "Exploring New Horizons in Storm Water Management."

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Jan. 16, 2007
Landmark Inn Gears Up For Valentine's
CASTROVILLE, Texas -- Now that Christmas and New Year's have come and gone and Valentine's Day is right around the corner, it's time to look forward to spending some quality time with that special someone in a special place.
Sweethearts and other romantics swear by Landmark Inn in Castroville, a quaint burg with an Alsatian flair just west of San Antonio. The historic site, which boasts a charming bed and breakfast inn more than 150 years old, is featuring a "deluxe romantic package" throughout the month of February.
Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, falls on a Wednesday this year, so the state-owned inn that dates from 1849, is offering the special package on any weekend of February. You'll be pampered with breakfast in bed one morning and enjoy the serenity of antique-furnished rooms with no telephones, television sets or other distractions.
Guests booking the special package for the weekends of Feb. 10 and 17 also will receive free entry to an exhibit featuring handmade quilts from a handful of Castroville collections, according to Ken Conway, the inn's superintendent. The quilts will be on display in the Landmark Inn's new 800-square-foot reception/banquet hall that occupies the former location of the inn's museum.
The package price ranges from $330 plus tax to $404 plus tax per couple. The package includes a two-night stay at the inn on the banks of the Medina River, one evening of fine French dining at La Normandie Restaurant and lunch at the Castroville Café. Guests will arrive to find in their room a fresh flower arrangement and gift basket.
Breakfast in bed will be served one morning, with the other breakfast being offered in the parlor of the riverside Vance House, one of several historic structures on the five-acre site operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Former inn owner Ruth Lawler, who once lived in the Vance House, donated the historic site to the State of Texas in 1974. Landmark Inn is only one of two TPWD properties operated as a bed and breakfast establishment. The other is located in Marshall at the Starr Mansion State Historic Site.
The Landmark Inn offers 10 heated and air-conditioned rooms, four with private baths. Six of the rooms are in the main, two-story inn, while two are in the old rock bathhouse and two others are located in the Vance House.
Ranked among the state's Top 10 B&Bs by Texas Highways magazine readers, the Landmark Inn has been carefully restored and maintained to provide guests with an opportunity to touch Texas' frontier past while enjoying all the modern comforts of home. The inn dates to 1849 when Swiss merchant Cesar Monod built a store on El Camino Real at the nearby Medina River crossing.
To reserve your special Valentine's package, call the inn at (830) 931-2133 and "sleep where history was made."
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 16, 2007
Master Naturalist Program Seeks Applicants
AUSTIN, Texas-- Twenty chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist program are conducting spring training classes for volunteers wanting to learn about natural resource and conservation management.
The Texas Master Naturalist program, with 38 chapters located across the state aims to develop a corps of well-informed citizen volunteers who educate their communities about the management of natural resources. The main qualification needed to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist is an interest in learning and playing an active part in conservation.
Volunteers will receive a minimum of 40 hours training from educators and specialists from places such as universities, natural resource agencies, nature centers and museums. Training topics include interpretation and management of natural resources, ecological concepts, eco-regions in Texas and natural systems management. Volunteers are expected to give 40 hours of service a year in community education, demonstration and habitat enhancement projects.
They are also expected to pursue a minimum of eight hours of advance training in areas of personal interest.
Texas Master Naturalist Chapters offering volunteer training this spring are listed with contact information. Enrollment is limited in most chapters. Some registration deadlines are fast approaching so contact a chapter near you to see if seating is still available.
--Abilene--Big Country Chapter. Training begins April 2 with a registration deadline of March 20. Contact 325-672-6048 or email: g-bomar@tamu.edu for details.
--Amarillo--Panhandle Chapter. Training is being planned for a class to begin in February. For more information, phone 806-676-1483 or email: chassell05@cox.net
--Austin--Capital Area Chapter. The spring class is full but the chapter maintains a waiting list of prospective members. To be added to the wait-list contact rw.myers@sbcglobal.net.
--Bay City--Mid-Coast Chapter. Class begins February 17 with a registration deadline of February 1. For details contact paulmary0211@sbcglobal.net or call 361-750-3679.
--Brenham--Gideon Lincecum Chapter (Austin, Colorado, Fayette and Washington Counties). Classes start on February 3 with the registration deadline being February 2. Contact jredden@tconline.net or telephone 936-878-1988 for details.
--Burnet--Highland Lakes Chapter. Training begins March 1 and registration is accepted until the class is full. More information is available by emailing hlmn@281.com.
--Conroe/Huntsville--Heartwood Chapter. Training begins March 10 and the application deadline is March 1. For information contact: texasnaturelover@earthlink.net or phone 281-381-3281.
--Clarksville--Red River Chapter. Class orientation is scheduled for April 14 and the registration deadline for this northeast Texas chapter on April 28. For additional information contact: asemrau@ntcc.edu
--Dallas--North Texas Chapter. Classes begin February 13. The registration deadline is January 12. Telephone 972-964-3506 or email: dk.scott@verizon.net for details.
--El Paso--Trans Pecos Chapter. Spring training begins February 21 and registration is due February 14. For specific information call 915-842-0346 or email chasgilbert@netzeor.net and list Master Naturalist training in the subject header.
--Galveston--Galveston Bay Area Chapter. Training begins on March 1 with February 15 being the registration deadline. For complete details phone 281-534-3413, ext.3 or email: jmassey@ag.tamu.edu.
--Harlingen--Rio Grande Valley Chapter. Classes begin February 7 with a registration deadline on January 25. Call 956-364-1410 or email: gma2tex@sbcglobal.net.
--Houston--Gulf Coast Chapter. Classes begin February 26 and the registration deadline is set for February 12. Telephone 713-781-9553 or email: milliemorgan@hotmail.com for more information.
--Junction--Western Edwards Plateau Chapter members will host an open house on February 13 and begin classes on March 13. The registration deadline is February 16. For details contact scottr@ctesc.net or telephone 325-475-2271.
--Lubbock--South Plains Chapter. Training will begin on March 1 and registration is due by February 15. More information is available at samcwhitehead@nts-online.net or telephone 806-785-5079.
--Navasota -- Cinco Tierra Chapter. The chapter is in the process of organizing and plans to host the first training class in the spring of 2007. For details about the progress and plans contact carawhitener@yahoo.com or call 936-825-9242.
--Plano--Blackland Prairie Chapter. The chapter is sponsoring an open house on January 31 and classes begin on February 14. Applications are due February 12. For complete details call 214-538-4444 or email: info@bptmn.org.
--San Antonio--Alamo Area Chapter. Classes start March 15 with a registration deadline on February 15. For information phone 210-698-2397 or email: aamn@texas.net
--Tyler--East Texas Chapter. Classes begin January 20 with a registration deadline on January 6. Contact 903-566-9394.
--Wichita Falls--Rolling Plains Chapter. Training begins in March 20 and registration is due by March 9. For details contact Mark Howell at 940-766-2383 or mark.howell@tpwd.texas.gov
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Cooperative Extension co-sponsor the Texas Master Naturalist Program statewide. For more information about existing chapters or forming a new chapter contact Sonny Arnold, Assistant Program Coordinator, 111 Nagle Hall, 2258, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2258. Call (979)458-1099 or email: sarnold@ag.tamu.edu.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Sarah Bibbs, (512) 389-4577, sarah.bibbs@tpwd.texas.gov or Tom Harvey, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 16, 2007
'Super Hunt' Offers Super Experience For Texas Youth
STONEWALL, Texas -- Nearly 50 young people from across Texas will take part Jan. 19-21 in what organizers are calling the state's largest youth deer hunt, thanks to ranchers who have donated free access to their properties and several groups who want to give today's urban kids more first-hand experience with nature and the outdoors.
The Texas Youth Hunting program in partnership with Austin Woods and Waters and the Cave Creek Wildlife Management Association will sponsor the 3rd annual Cave Creek Super Hunt near Stonewall, in Gillespie County.
The hunt, taking place on 12 participating ranches, is described as the largest youth hunt in the state. Nearly 50 youth participated last year. In just one weekend, 45 whitetail does, 20 whitetail spike bucks, 1 axis doe and 3 black buck does were harvested.
P.J. Bonner, age 12, said he never saw so many deer in one place at one time.
"The deer just started stacking in," he said. Bonner and his dad, Pace, volunteered at last year's hunt. This year they plan to bring home a deer of their own.
"It's going to be awesome," said the younger Bonner. "It's father-son time."
Providing youth and their accompanying adults with a safe, affordable hunting experience is part of what the Super Hunt is about, according to Doug DuBois, Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) Heart of Texas area coordinator.
"Our goal is to have parents and youth in the blinds, having that quiet time together and watching nature," Dubois said.
The other important goal of the Super Hunt is to promote wildlife management.
"We try to manage our deer herd like we would manage livestock," said Ronnie Ottmers, Cave Creek WMA's youth hunt program chairman. Ottmers said the youth Super Hunt is an important contribution in maintaining a healthy population of deer on the Cave Creek ranches. In addition to wildlife management, Ottmers hopes the Super Hunt builds positive relationships between landowners and young hunters.
"We're trying to inspire good hunting ethics in interested youth," he said.
During the Super Hunt, Austin Woods and Waters supplies certified Huntmasters who organize and lead the hunts for youth and their accompanying adults on each participating ranch.
Between the hunting periods, youth are engaged in educational activities such as sausage making demonstrations, deer aging lessons and taxidermy introduction. "We hope the kids take away a positive experience," said DuBois. " The youth harvest deer, eat great food, meet lots of other people from all over the state and learn more about the fantastic sport of hunting."
The Texas Youth Hunting Program hopes to get more participants interested in this event and other youth hunts.
"We need more youth, especially those who have not hunted or have not harvested an animal," said DuBois.
The Texas Youth Hunting Program is run by the Texas Wildlife Association in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The TYHP Mission is to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and affordable. TYHP sponsors introductory, instructive youth hunts for deer, turkey, exotics, small game and many other species. Mentors, lodging and meals are often provided.
For more information on this or other youth hunts, visit the Texas Youth Hunting Program Web page or contact TYHP Heart of Texas Area Coordinator Doug DuBois at (512) 826-2472.
On the Net:

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Howard Elder, (409) 384-9965, howard.elder@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 16, 2007
Volunteers Set Precedent To Control Invasive Exotic Plant
JASPER, Texas--Message from residents of Karnack, Texas, to giant salvinia: Don't mess with our lake!
When Howard Elder, aquatic vegetation biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, needed help fighting an infestation of the invasive aquatic plant giant salvinia in Caddo Lake, residents of the tiny East Texas community quickly volunteered.
In December 2006, 35 citizens received training in how to recognize and dispose of giant salvinia and were issued permits allowing them to do so.
"It is illegal to possess or transport giant salvinia without a permit, but these people wanted to do something to help protect their lake," Elder said. "Involving them as permitted volunteers gives them ownership of the management of the water they live near."
Caddo Lake residents have even drafted a "Community Response Plan" which outlines specific goals and objectives to help coordinate volunteer efforts. In addition to creating a "Shoreline Watch" program which will provide quick and decisive control of new infestations, the plan involves actively researching new sources of funding for control efforts.
Elder is planning another training session in the spring. In the meantime signs will be placed around the lake warning people of giant salvinia's presence and steps they can take to help prevent its expansion.
"The signs will help people identify giant salvinia and encourage them to inspect and clean boats and trailers before leaving launch areas," Elder said.
Giant salvinia is an invasive floating aquatic fern from Brazil. According to Dr. Earl Chilton, TPWD aquatic habitat enhancement program director, giant salvinia is one of the world's most invasive aquatic weeds.
"It has caused problems in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Rhodesia, and Sri Lanka to name a few," Chilton said.
Under ideal conditions, giant salvinia populations can double every 5-to-8 days, are resistant to cold weather, and can survive for weeks out of water if kept moist. Once established, the fern forms dense mats that eliminate all other aquatic vegetation in the area, even plankton, which are vital to healthy fish populations.
Juvenile plants, spread by wind and wave action, quickly start new colonies in protected backwaters. Giant salvinia is easily spread overland to new locations by boat trailers, propellers or jet-ski intakes; most new infestations are found near boat ramps.
More than 150 acres of the invasive fern were discovered in Caddo Lake in May 2006 in Jeem's Bayou, Louisiana. Subsequent surveys revealed almost 300 acres of giant salvinia in the area. Louisiana vegetation control crews, with the assistance of TPWD, responded with aggressive chemical treatments in an effort to prevent uncontrolled expansion of the exotic.
Since its arrival in Texas waters in 1998, giant salvinia has been documented in Toledo Bend Reservoir, Lake Conroe, Sheldon Lake, and Lake Texana. In 2006 giant salvinia was confirmed on Caddo Lake, Center City Lake and Lake Pinkston in East Texas. Although many infestations are never reported, giant salvinia persists in at least 50 private water bodies in Texas.
An integrated pest management program combining public awareness and education, chemical treatment, physical removal and introduction of bio-control agents like the giant salvinia weevil (Cyrtobagous salviniae) is considered to be the best long-term management approach.
Although aquatic herbicides remain the first line of defense in controlling new infestations, the introduction of salvinia weevils as a bio-control agent has shown great promise on Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Conroe. Elder is also stepping up efforts to introduce weevils on the Louisiana side of the lake in cooperation with Louisiana authorities.
"We have a high density of giant salvinia weevils in at least two places on Toledo Bend Reservoir that need to be harvested and distributed to locations where they will do the most good," Elder said.
Public involvement and awareness are critical in identifying and controlling new infestations and are considered a priority in control efforts. Anglers and boaters can help by learning to identify giant salvinia and reporting any suspicious floating aquatic vegetation, particularly around boat ramps and the backs of nearby creeks.
Boats, trailers, jet-ski intakes, and other equipment should be inspected frequently and cleaned of all aquatic vegetation before leaving launch areas.
For information on giant salvinia in East Texas, to report possible sightings or to inquire about future volunteer training sessions, call Howard Elder, Aquatic Habitat Biologist, 409-384-9965, howard.elder@tpwd.texas.gov, or Tim Bister, Fisheries Biologist District 3-A, 903-938-1007, timothy.bister@tpwd.texas.gov.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 16, 2007
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Don't rock the boat -- On Jan. 6, a Burleson County game warden received a phone call on a missing 71-year-old man who had gone hunting at the Somerville WMA and hadn't returned. Lee County wardens found the elderly man trapped due to swift flood waters in the area. A canoe was tied to a rescue rope to retrieve him. On the first rescue attempt, the man tipped the canoe and dumped everyone out of the boat. The second attempt was successful and rescuers and the elderly hunter managed to stay in the canoe. Thankfully, causalities of the incident were limited to a life jacket and rescue bag rope.
Live deer don't make good passengers -- A McMullen County deputy game warden observed a car in the ditch at 4:30 a.m. Jan. 1. Upon making contact he discovered that a deer had been put in the trunk of the car -- alive. The two men in the car admitted to tackling a trapped 8-point buck and putting it in the trunk of their car. When the deputy advised the men that they risked injury from the buck, they stated they had both played football and could handle themselves. The deer was removed from the trunk of the car and searched for bullet holes -- none found.
A faulty excuse -- On Dec. 30, a game warden was checking camps in a subdivision near Sanderson when he discovered a hunter in possession of a fallow deer. The hunter claimed that his 9-year-old son killed the deer on a ranch in Central Texas. When the warden asked to see the boy's hunting license, the hunter explained that his son was only nine and didn't need a hunting license in Louisiana. The hunter was advised that he was in Texas, not Louisiana.
Hunter's rabbit grows antlers -- A Runnels County warden located and questioned a man suspected to have been hunting from the road Dec. 20. The subject confessed to shooting a rabbit from the road but said he was unable to find it. The suspect found his kill the next morning, however, when he was able to recognize the rabbit in its deer disguise. Charges are pending.
At least they got the boat -- On Dec. 19, U.S. Border Patrol agents were patrolling Falcon Lake by boat when they came upon a Mexican commercial fishing vessel in U.S. waters. The occupants evaded arrest by fleeing into shoreline brush. Border Patrol seized the vessel and turned it over to a Zapata County game warden. A motor and approximately 2,000 feet of gill net were also seized.
Would you like fries with that fine? -- In late December, a Burnet County game warden pursued an individual advertising deer meat for sale over the Internet. The warden purchased an advertised "Happy Meal # 1" from the suspect and scheduled a pick-up time. Upon meeting, the suspect filled the warden's order and was consequently made aware of the sting. The suspect's computer, firearms, and meat were seized. Further investigation revealed the suspect had killed at least 24 deer over the past two years, and sold numerous processed deer over the Internet. Restitution is approximately $16,000.
Dodging accountability doesn't necessarily pay off -- A Hardeman County game warden checked on a suspicious vehicle in a rural area in early December and found occupants with alcoholic beverages. The warden was sure that one occupant was a minor. The youth had recently accompanied him on a job shadow program. A baggie of marijuana was also spotted. Both occupants claimed it belonged to the other, so they both went to jail.
If only it were always this easy -- On Dec. 9, at approximately 11:30 p.m., a Panola County game warden was on his way home when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw a vehicle behind him spotlighting. As he slowed down to observe, he witnessed violators' hunting hogs from the road. Cases are pending.
'Attempting illegal activity isn't legal?' -- Two subjects were apprehended in Nueces County on an early December night after they shot at deer in a ditch. The subjects complained that they shouldn't have been cited because they did not hit the deer. Cases are pending.
Diapers, formula and fish -- A Harris County game warden received numerous complaints in late November about a lady catching undersized fish and hiding them in her car. When the warden approached the suspect, she was removing a diaper bag from her vehicle. After receiving permission to search the car, no fish were located. The suspect kept moving the diaper bag farther from the warden, so he requested permission to search the diaper bag. Eleven undersize black drum, one undersize flounder and several hardheads were found among the baby items. Cases are pending.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Jan. 16, 2007
Nominations Sought For Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
ATHENS, Texas -- Individuals or organizations that have made a lasting contribution to freshwater fishing in Texas may be nominated through February 26 for induction into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Nominees may be anglers, fisheries professionals or organizations. The nominee must be a Texan or Texas organization. Individuals may be either living or deceased. One nominee will be chosen by an independent selection committee and formally inducted during the annual Hall of Fame banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
Prior inductees include Floyd Mabry, Jackie Hewlett, R.D. Hull, Bob Kemp, Nick Crème, Charlie Inman, Sugar Ferris, Leonard Ranne, Earl Golding, Kathy Magers, the Sabine River Authority, Skeeter Boats, Michael ("Shorty") Powers, Ray Murski, Albert S. Bradley and Richard M. Hart.
Nomination forms and instructions are available on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department web site at: http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/visit/virtualtour/halloffame/nominate.phtml or by calling (903) 670-2228.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 16, 2007
Cronkite To Narrate "Texas The State Of Springs" Documentary Feb. 15
AUSTIN, Texas -- In parts of Texas, springs have ceased flowing. Once-mighty water sources like Comanche Springs in Fort Stockton have run dry from over pumping. Aquifers are increasingly scrutinized by regulators and irrigators who nervously watch well pumps and water tables.
Against this backdrop, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will air its latest video documentary about water resources. "Texas the State of Springs" will air at 8 p.m. CDT Thursday, Feb. 15 on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations statewide. The one-hour TV program is part of a broader TPWD public information initiative that began with a special water resource issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine in July 2002 and continuing every July since. The initiative also includes radio, Internet and other components.
Broadcast news legend Walter Cronkite will again lend his distinctive voice to this latest project, as he did for TPWD's last water resource TV documentary "Texas: the State of Water-Finding A Balance" in 2005.
"Texas the State of Springs" will examine the historical decline of springs across the state and explore current groundwater and land use issues that impact spring flow. It will look at how groundwater pumping and water marketing in rural areas can affect springs, along with how proper land management can enhance and even restore spring flow. It will show how conservation easements and land acquisitions are used to protect key elements of watersheds. It concludes with how urban homeowners can have a positive impact and dramatically reduce their water bills through native plant landscaping and other water conservation measures.
The documentary is made possible in part by funding from Shell Oil Company, with additional support from patron sponsors The Partnership Foundation and supporting sponsors the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and Lower Colorado River Authority, plus support from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and public television viewers.
PBS stations based in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Lubbock, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Midland-Odessa, Harlingen, Killeen, Waco and Austin have all committed to air the documentary Feb. 15. Below is a listing of these stations showing most cities they serve. See local listings for station cable and broadcast channel numbers.
--KERA: Abilene, Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth, Longview, Lufkin, Marshall, Nacogdoches, Paris, San Angelo, Sherman, Tyler, Wichita Falls *
--KUHT: Beaumont, Galveston, Houston, Port Arthur, Texas City, Victoria
--KLRN: Kerrville, Laredo, San Antonio
--KMBH: Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, Mission
--KWBU: Waco
--KPFT: Midland, Odessa **
--KNCT: Killeen, Temple
--KCOS: El Paso
--KTXT: Lubbock
--KACV: Amarillo
--KLRU: Austin
--KEDT: Corpus Christi
--KAMU: Bryan, College Station
* Correction, Feb. 1, 2007: The original version of this news release erroneously included Texarkana in the KERA service area. The list has been corrected.(Return to corrected item.)
** Correction, Feb. 1, 2007: The original version of this news release had incorrect call letters for this station. The call letters have been corrected. (Return to corrected item.)
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Jan. 16, 2007
Volunteers Sought For Crab Trap Clean-Up Feb. 16-25
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hoping to add to the mountain of the 19,930 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays over the last five years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 6th Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from February 16-25.
During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with crab traps and any traps left in the bay will be presumed to be abandoned and considered litter under state law, thus allowing volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.
Before the 77th Legislature authorized the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap.
State game wardens pick up more than 2,500 traps annually, yet there are many more still in the water to foul shrimpers' nets, snag fishermen's lines and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year's cleanup and years past.
To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD will host various trap drop off sites at various locations along the coast on Saturday, February 17th, weather permitting. At other sites, dumpsters will be placed to receive traps throughout the entire closure, which will be marked with banners and will sit at the drop off sites for the duration of the closure.
Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but cannot remove traps before Feb. 16 or after Feb. 25. Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed about 2,000 traps.
"This volunteer based program has exceeded our wildest imaginations. So good in fact we are working ourselves out of a job, as indicated by the waning number of traps removed each year", said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. "We are especially proud of the job that everyone has done. Overall, the coast looks great in terms of the number of derelict traps people encounter. But in some areas, we could still use a little tidying up, especially in Galveston, Matagorda and San Antonio Bays."
During past efforts, traps from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay accounted for more than 70 percent of the traps collected along the coast.
This year marks a milestone for the program. To commemorate the removal of the 20,000th trap, one lucky volunteer from the lower coast will be drawn from all that participate to receive a special prize -- a lifetime fishing license -- sponsored by the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program with a second lifetime fishing license to be given away to an upper coast volunteer by a yet to be named sponsor.
To be eligible to participate in the drawing, sign up at the local trap drop-off site or contact the local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field station office for details.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and the Cecil M. Hopper Museum are providing significant support to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming from numerous organizations and companies like Saltwater Anglers League of Texas and others who are volunteering their services.
For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that they collect. To participate, volunteers can pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at each of the sites or their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations.
For more information about the program, please contact Art Morris (361) 825-3356 or Bobby Miller (281) 534-0110.

[ 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: USFWS -- Tom Stehn, (361) 286-3559; Vicki Fox, (505) 248-6455 ]
Jan. 16, 2007
Whooping Crane Population Continues To Soar
From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
AUSTWELL, Texas -- The tallest bird in North America has something special to "whoop" about. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge today announced the highest numbers of endangered whooping cranes are wintering in Texas in approximately the last 100 years.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Coordinator Tom Stehn completed a census flight on December 13 and accounted for 237 whooping cranes. The current population exceeds by 17 the previous high of 220 whoopers present in the fall of 2005.
The increase in numbers is due to extremely good nest production last summer. A record 62 nesting pairs fledged 49 chicks on their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada, as reported by the Canadian Wildlife Service.
The young cranes were old enough to fly by mid-August increasing their ability to escape from predators and their survival. The record population of 237 includes a record 45 young cranes that have completed their first migration to Texas. Especially notable are seven whooping crane pairs with two chicks each. Although whooping cranes normally hatch two chicks every year, usually only one of the youngsters is able to survive.
"The presence of seven families with two chicks each is especially exciting since it surpasses the previous high of four sets that occurred way back in 1958," said Stehn. "This is a special year for the birds."
"The whooping crane continues to tell the story of what we can accomplish when we all work together in partnership to save a species," said Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, Director of the Southwest Region of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Many people in North America first learned of the plight of the whooping crane in grade school. It is especially gratifying to lead efforts to protect the species and to be able to report that this success story is continuing!"
The population in Texas reached a low of only 15 birds in 1941, before efforts were taken to protect the species and its habitat. The population has been growing at four percent annually and reached 100 birds in 1987 and 200 birds in 2004.
However, the whooping crane population continues to face many threats, including collisions with power lines in migration, limited genetic variability in the birds themselves, loss of crane migration habitat, and winter habitat threatened with loss of productivity due to reduced fresh water inflows, chemical spills and sea level rise.
The only natural wild population of whooping cranes nest in the Northwest Territories of Canada in summer and migrate 2,400 miles to winter at the Aransas and Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuges and surrounding areas.
Their winter range stretches out over 35 miles of the Texas coast about 45 miles north of Corpus Christi, Texas. Wintering whooping cranes use salt marsh habitat foraging primarily for blue crabs. Unlike most other bird species, whooping cranes are territorial in both summer and winter and will defend and chase all other whooping cranes out of their estimated 350-acre territories.
Although whooping crane migration starts in mid-September and is usually completed by mid-December, it is still possible that a few additional cranes will turn up to be counted on the census flights conducted by the Service. It takes up to eight hours of flying to cover the 55,600 acres of marsh to find all the cranes.
These flights determine the size of the total population, locate crane territories, and any mortalities that may occur. "Finding every whooping crane is quite a challenge. We have thousands of other white birds in the marsh including pelicans and egrets that makes aerial spotting of cranes more difficult. Also, the cranes can move during a census flight and either not be counted or else be counted twice," said Stehn.
Private pilot Dr. Tom Taylor, 74 of Rockport, Texas came out of retirement to conduct the flight and helped make the record count. Dr Taylor's experience conducting the crane flights for the past 12 years with the Service was a huge help in finding all the cranes.
If a disease outbreak or other disaster should occur affecting the Texas flock, a contingency plan to reintroduce two additional flocks into the wild is in place. Since 1993, captive bred whooping cranes have been released annually in central Florida.
Today, that non-migratory flock numbers approximately 53 birds. During the past few years, these cranes have demonstrated their maturity by nesting and producing chicks on their own.
A migratory flock was established using an ultra light aircraft to teach the whooping cranes a migration route between Wisconsin and Florida. This migratory flock now numbers 83, with the first two chicks from that flock fledged in the wild in 2006 at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin.
These cranes fly solo after being led on their initial trip across the eastern U.S. behind the ultralight. Operation Migration is leading 18 juvenile whooping cranes in their first flight between Wisconsin and Florida and they are expected to complete the journey before Christmas. The team of pilots and biologists assigned this task make up the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.
The current total North American population of wild and captive whooping cranes is 518. Although the whooping crane population remains endangered, the comeback of the species sets a standard for conservation efforts in North America.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. Visit the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov.
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