|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-05-28                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
May 28, 2007
Great Texas Birding Classic Winnings Fund Conservation
AUSTIN, Texas -- With 320 species identified, the Environmental Partners birding team, sponsored by Reliant Energy, racked up its third consecutive first-place finish at the 11th annual Great Texas Birding Classic hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
Each year, winning teams allocate prize money to fund Texas wildlife habitat conservation and restoration projects approved by the Birding Classic staff.
Seven coastal habitat projects will share $73,000 from contributions by corporate sponsors, team entry fees, community and individual donations, and a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Texas Coastal Program.
"A number of the projects this year are restoration projects on land that has already been set aside," said Carol Jones, Education Program Manager for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. "A common thread among several projects this year is to remove invasive, nonnative species and replace them with native flora that better support birds and wildlife."
For example, Jones said the Bushnell-sponsored Butcherbirds team, who placed third in this year's competition, donated their $10,000 in prize money to the Texas City Prairie Preserve in Galveston County to remove a nonnative plant that is threatening to drive the Attwater's Prairie Chicken to extinction.
Funds were also donated to purchase land for future conservation and restoration efforts.
The Environmental Partners have allocated their $20,000 first-place prize to the Columbia Bottomlands Conservation Project for the acquisition of key tracts of migratory bird habitat. Already, the project has conserved more than 14,000 acres of prime avian habitat.
To date, the Great Texas Birding Classic has raised $578,000 for wildlife conservation efforts along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
"The Birding Classic has helped raise awareness that we need to preserve wildlife habitat not only for our resident birds, but also for our migratory birds to rest and refuel," said Jones.
Other projects funded with prize money from the Great Texas Birding Classic include the following:
--$10,000 from the second-place Cranes Team, sponsored by ConocoPhillips, will go to the Goose Island Walkway to Wetland Wildlife project to construct and 85-foot-long walkway for public access to the western half of Goose Island State Park.
--$10,000 from the Lower Coast winners, the Swarovski-sponsored Roadside Hawks, will go to the Sabal Palm Audubon Center to restore wildlife habitat in Cameron County near Brownsville.
--In Nueces County near Corpus Christi, the Packery Channel Sanctuary Habitat will receive $10,000 from the LSU Tiger-Heron team, sponsored by Zeiss, winners of the Central Coast region. Proceeds will help restore habitat that is native to the barrier island.
--The winners from the Upper Coast, the TAMUG Xtreme Birding Team, sponsored by AEP Texas, will donate their $10,000 prize winnings toward restorations on the Horseshoe Marsh Prairie in Port Bolivar, Galveston County.
--The $3,000 prize for the Lone Star Bird Award, won by the Nikon and WildBird magazine-sponsored WildBirders team, will go to the Coastal Sanctuary Understory Diversification project, which aims to remove invasive species from coastal lands in Chambers County.
For more information on the Great Texas Birding Classic, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Web site.
On the Net:

[ 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 ] [LH]
May 28, 2007
Texas Ships Bass to Mississippi for Hurricane Recovery
ATHENS, Texas--When two massive hurricanes severely damaged the freshwater fisheries throughout Mississippi in 2006, Ron Garavelli, Director of the Mississippi Fisheries Bureau, did exactly what anyone in a disaster situation does--he turned to his neighbors for help.
Garavelli went to the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Norfolk, Virginia, in October 2006 and appealed to the directors of wildlife agencies from other states for help.
Phil Durocher, Director of the Inland Fisheries Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and Robert L. Cook, Executive Director of TPWD, were at the meeting, and they quickly agreed to help.
Fast forward to May 23, 2007, the peak of the largemouth bass spawning season in Texas. Early that morning fisheries technicians and biologists at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens loaded 250,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings on a truck and sent them on their way to the Turcotte Fish Hatchery just north of Jackson, Mississippi. From there the fish were distributed to lakes in northern and western Mississippi.
"The fish from Texas allow us to use fish from our Gulf Coast hatcheries for stocking coastal streams while maintaining our management practices in other lakes as well," said Tom Holman, Fisheries Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Parks. "We had offers of help from virtually every southeastern state."
Providing the fish required no special effort on the part of Texas, said Jim Matthews, Hatchery Manager at TFFC. "We raise as many Florida largemouth bass as we can every year, and we are never able to produce enough to meet all our stocking requests," Matthews said. "We simply put Mississippi at the top of the priority list to receive fish. It's typical to have interstate cooperation. They help us when we need it, and we help them when they need it."
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service lent a hand as well. "We got involved because we are the most convenient facility for delivering the fish from Texas to Mississippi," said Karen Kilpatrick, Manager of the Natchitoches [Louisiana] National Fish Hatchery. "We are centrally located, and we have a big truck--normally used for stocking paddlefish--that holds 900 gallons and can carry that many fingerling bass."
While it might seem unusual for fish from Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama to wind up swimming in Mississippi waters, it's really no big deal, says Kilpatrick. "This is just another routine thing we do for the resource," she said. "We do this kind of thing every single day for the public to be able to enjoy the legacy and the heritage of fishing, hurricane or not."
Mississippi anglers will benefit for years from the aid offered by their neighbors. "Our freshwater habitat took a real hit," said Garavelli. "Massive fish kills resulted from saltwater intrusion caused by the storm surge and from oxygen depletion as debris washed into lakes and rivers decayed. This stocking will increase the chances of a quick comeback of those species lost as a result of the storms."