|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-08-31                                    |
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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 ] [SL]
Aug. 31, 2007
TPWD Launches Shotgun Sports in Schools Pilot Program
AUSTIN, Texas --The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced it is this fall piloting a target shooting program similar to its popular Archery in Schools initiative.
The Clay Sports in Schools pilot, designed to introduce 6th through 12th grade level youth to competitive shotgun clay target shooting, will be offered in selected schools throughout the state, beginning with the Wildlife Management and Recreation curriculum in high schools.
"I have no doubts there are some potential international clay target shooters sitting in our classrooms and a program such as this could be the key to discovering those gifted athletes," said Steve Hall, TPWD education director. "The thing about competitive clay sports is you don't have to be the strongest or the fastest athlete to be successful, which means it's more accessible to more kids."
Hall points to the department's Archery in Schools program, where in less than two years more than 300 physical education teachers have received training in archery target shooting and more than 400 students have competed at two statewide competitions.
"Texas has a strong dove and quail hunting heritage," said Hall. "Clay target games simulate the flight of these popular game birds, so a program like this is a natural fit."
Similar programs are growing in popularity in other states, such as Tennessee, where participants are receiving extra-curricular recognition lettering in clay target sports. Some students are advancing toward national and international competition, with an eye toward college scholarships in clay target sports and a possible berth on the U.S.A. Shooting Team.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner John Parker of Lufkin learned of the Tennessee program about a year ago and believes the concept will be successful in Texas, too.
"I think the potential is there," he said. "We have a dedicated group of folks working together to make it happen and I support the effort enthusiastically."
The Texas Clay Sports in Schools pilot will focus initially on professional educators who already teach hunter education in schools, specifically in the high school agriculture science curricula. TPWD's Charlie Wilson, who introduces newcomers to clay sports through the department's mobile five-stand sporting clays system, came up with the idea for the pilot and received approval from the Texas Agriculture Science administration to implement the trial program at their annual conference this past July.
Pilot schools will be tasked with putting together teams or clubs interested in shooting trap, skeet and/or sporting clays. During the current school year, participants will focus on developing trapshooting skills.
TPWD will be looking to expand shooting range facilities that accommodate the school teams, offering incentives to those ranges that provide access to these young shooters through its federal grants program. At its Aug. 23 public hearing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission awarded three shooting range grants to facilities that are compatible with youth clay sports recruitment.
In addition to the Clay Sports in Schools pilot, TPWD will continue to support existing youth clay target programs, the Texas Cooperative Extension's 4-H Shooting Sports program, the largest program of its kind in the nation, and National Shooting Sports Foundation Scholastic Clays Program, which already has a successful chapter in Texas.
Looking ahead, TPWD is also planning to launch in 2008 an introductory program to youth clay sports, called Junior Clays. This initiative is a similar after-school program, whereby youth that are relatively new to shotgun sports can enter "hunter class" competitions already held at many of the ranges throughout Texas and sponsored by various state and national shooting sports organizations. The effort will stress opportunities for families new to shooting to come to ranges to enjoy the shotgun sports.
Wilson, who currently reaches 6,000 shooters annually with the mobile sporting clays range operation, has been tasked to initiate the two new programs, with the assistance of regional and statewide hunter education staff and volunteers.
For more information about these programs, contact TPWD's hunter education staff at (512) 389-4999 or toll free at (800) 792-1112; ext. 4999.

[ 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]
Aug. 31, 2007
Saddle Up at Big Bend Ranch for an Authentic Cattle Drive
PRESIDIO, Texas -- Yee-Ha! Would you like to be a cowboy or cowgirl? On Oct. 4-6, Big Bend Ranch State park invites guests to participate in the park's fall cattle drive and roundup.
Weekend wranglers will have a chance to see cattle in the ranch's rugged and remote cattle pastures, learn how the herd is moved with horses and drive the park's historic Texas Longhorn Herd to stock pens at the ranch headquarters. Participants can take part in branding and vaccinating calves, recording lineages and experiencing the traditions of the Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American cowboy culture.
The longhorn cattle drive program is Big Bend Ranch State Park's most popular event, allowing up to 25 visitors to participate and experience a part of the state's Western heritage. The three-day event allows one to experience life as a cowboy and gain a lifetime of memories. Guests have come from as far away as New York, Australia, Canada and England.
"If you're looking for a genuine taste of the wild, western range life, the Big Bend Ranch cattle drive is about as real as it gets," Colorado travel writer Christine Loomis said of her recent cattle drive experience in the vast and beautiful high country of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Cowhands end their days with a chuck wagon meal served on range, listening to cowboy music and poetry to make the outing an authentic and memorable experience. Participants can choose to sleep on the range or return to the ranch bunkhouse for the night.
The cost of the three-day event is $975, which includes horse and tack, park entry fee, lodging/camping fees, meals and the assistance of park wrangler guides. Big Bend Ranch is located northeast of Presidio off Texas Highway 170.
To find out more or to reserve a spot on the cattle drive, call Big Bend Ranch State Park at (432) 229-3416 or the Sauceda Ranch Headquarters at (432) 358-4444.
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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 ] [AR]
Aug. 31, 2007
Saltwater Anglers Reminded of Changes in Regs
AUSTIN, Texas -- Starting Sept. 1, new fishing regulations for spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre and offshore fishing statewide go into effect.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission April 5 approved lowering both the bag and possession limits for spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre from 10 to 5.
The reduction in the limits addresses a downward trend in the spawning stock biomass of spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre -- a trend that runs counter to steadily increasing populations elsewhere on the coast.
Of particular concern to TPWD biologists is that spotted seatrout spawning stock biomass currently is about half what it was at the time of the 1983-1984 freeze, which resulted in a major kill of spotted seatrout and other species along the lower coast. A greater number of reproducing fish can help stocks recover faster after such a catastrophic event.
The new regulation applies to the entire Lower Laguna Madre, from Marker 21 in the Landcut, to South Bay and including the Brownsville Ship Channel and Arroyo Colorado. The new regulation applies to "inside waters," waters landward from the shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf beaches are not included in the area, but any boats fishing in Gulf waters and landing their catches within the boundaries are subject to the lower bag limits.
The 80th Texas Legislature also passed a bill requiring anyone landing fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to possess a valid Texas saltwater fishing license and saltwater stamp endorsement. The bill, introduced as H.B. 3765, was rolled into H.B. 12 and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry June 15.
Previously, anglers fishing in federal waters -- often on "party" or "head" boats, but on private boats as well -- were not required to have a Texas fishing license. Anglers exempt from the requirement to hold fishing license and saltwater stamp endorsement (for instance, anglers under the age of 17 or those born before Sept. 1, 1930) also are exempt from the new law.
Also, beginning Sept. 1, anglers are reminded that:
--The minimum length limit for sheepshead has increased from 12 inches to 13 inches, and will continue to increase in one-inch per year increments until the minimum length for possession is 15 inches.
--The minimum length limit for tarpon now is 85 inches.
--Circle hooks are required when fishing for red snapper in state waters.
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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: Tom Harvey, TPWD, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov; Courtney Jeffries, REI, (512) 482-3357, cjeffri@rei.com ]
Aug. 31, 2007
REI Asks Volunteers To 'Pitch In' at State Parks Sept. 29
AUSTIN, Texas -- In celebration of National Public Lands Day on Sat., Sept. 29, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) stores in Texas will sponsor projects at three Texas State Parks--Cedar Hill State Park south of Dallas, McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, and Huntsville State Park north of Houston.
National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. Last year nearly 100,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, planted trees and plants, and removed trash and invasive plants. REI is seeking volunteers to join this effort.
In Austin, in partnership with the Friends of McKinney Falls State Park, REI Austin Downtown and REI Austin Gateway stores will host a National Public Lands Day workday at McKinney Falls State Park. Planned projects include: constructing cedar and granite tent pads and a kid's trash clean up. REI Austin stores will recognize local non-profit groups that received REI grants this year during a brief ceremony at 11:45am.
In Dallas, REI Dallas, REI Plano, the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association, the Friends of Cedar Hill State Park, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will sponsor a volunteer workday at Cedar Hill State Park. Planned projects include: painting a historical barn and trail maintenance on the hike and bike trails. This service project offers suitable volunteer activities for all ages. Cedar Hill State Park is located 10 miles southwest of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas.
In Houston, volunteers are invited to join REI Houston Galleria and REI Houston Willowbrook along with Greater Houston Off-Road Biking Association (GHORBA), the Texas Master Naturalists, and the Friends of Huntsville State Park for a day of trail re-routing and a shoreline cleanup at Huntsville State Park. Order of the Arrow Scouts will supervise a boardwalk building project, and invite other scout groups to assist in construction. Huntsville State Park is located about fifty miles north of Houston off Interstate Highway 45.
The above service projects are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit REI Web site and go to the Stores & Events pages to find the REI store closest to you, or phone your local REI store:
--Austin -- Gateway: (512) 343-5550; Downtown: (512) 482-3357
--Houston -- Willowbrook: (832) 237-8833; Galleria: (713) 353-2582
--Dallas -- Plano: (972) 985-2241; Dallas: (972) 490-5989
REI is an outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and offering high-quality outdoor gear and clothing to its 2.8 million active members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventures. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.
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