|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-10-15                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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: Aaron Reed, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, (512) 389-8046, aaron.reed@tpwd.texas.gov; Laura Hernandez Aplin, Dublin & Associates, (210) 227.0221, ext. 240, laplin@dublinandassociates.com; Denise Rodgers, (512) 303-7858, Drodgers520@austin.rr.com ]
Oct. 15, 2007
Bastrop's 1st Annual NatureFest Celebrates New Paddling Trail Nov. 3
BASTROP, Texas- City and state officials will come together Saturday, Nov. 3, to officially launch the newest Texas Paddling Trail. El Camino Real Paddling Trail is a six-mile long route along the Colorado River that begins at Fisherman's Park in downtown Bastrop. The trail will become the fourth inland paddling trail in Texas.
To celebrate the launch, the City of Bastrop will also host NatureFest, a day-long celebration of the rich outdoor ecosystem that encompasses the Lost Pines Region of Texas. The event will take place at Fisherman's Park in historic downtown Bastrop, at Willow and Farm, which lies at the heart of the Lost Pines. Admission is $3, children 12 and under are free.
Proceeds will benefit the Bastrop Education Foundation and Environmental Stewardship, a Bastrop-based nonprofit organization whose purposes are to protect, conserve, restore and enhance natural resources.
"Bastrop's rich natural and cultural heritage make it a great place to visit and live, and the addition of these paddling trails will only add to the appreciation many nature enthusiasts already have for the Lost Pines Region," said Mayor Tom Scott. "We are honored to be working with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department on a program that will enhance the nature tourist's knowledge of the Colorado River and its rich history through our historic downtown, our state parks and natural areas and throughout the Lost Pines."
With the backdrop of the lower Colorado River, the launch ceremonies will begin at 11:00 a.m. with the music of Bill Oliver, "Mr. Habitat," followed by a few words from TPW Commissioner Margaret Martin and a keynote presentation by Rep. Lloyd Doggett.
About the Lost Pines Paddling Trails
El Camino Real Paddling Trail is the first of six potential trails to be designated on the lower Colorado River, and begins where the legendary El Camino Real crossed the lower Colorado River in Bastrop. Next year, the "Wilbarger Creek Paddling Trail," a 14-mile trail, is planned from FM 969 Utley Bridge to Fisherman's Park in downtown Bastrop. Future trails include the "Red Bluffs Paddling Trail," and several more trails downriver to Smithville.
About NatureFest
NatureFest is the first annual event in Bastrop celebrating the rich outdoor heritage of the region. Festival-goers will enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including canoe/kayak paddle events, children's fishing contests, nature hikes, photo scavenger hunts, pony rides, Native American drumming, bug and reptile shows, storytelling, arts & crafts, food and much more. In addition to Texas Parks & Wildlife, other organizations involved include Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, Texas Master Naturalists, LCRA's McKinney Roughs, Bastrop County Audubon Society, Boy Scouts, Sierra Club, Pines & Prairies Land Trust, and Friends of the Lost Pines States Parks.
Environmental Stewardship is managing the event on behalf of the City of Bastrop. In addition to helping to provide educational resources for the natural sciences department at Bastrop Independent School District, funds raised will also be used to establish additional paddle trails in Bastrop County and develop the Lost Pines Recreational Hike & Bike Trails at the end of the El Camino Real Paddling Trail.
About Bastrop
Bastrop's roots run deep with its historic downtown district, the tranquility of the Colorado River and beautiful view of "The Lost Pines" surroundings. In 1979, the National Register of Historic Places admitted 131 Bastrop buildings and sites to its list, earning Bastrop the title of "Most Historic Small Town in Texas." In 2007, Bastrop was one of four cities named a "Texas Main Street City."
With a rich harvest of classic Texas folklore and architecture, downtown Bastrop represents a unique blending of the old and new. Visitors can pass along the old historic Main Street that is lined with century-old structures housing antique shops, specialty stores, galleries and restaurants. One piece of history is the 1889 Bastrop Opera House, which offers an array of entertainment.
While preserving its history, Bastrop offers the tranquility of the Colorado River. Visitors can fish or kayak down the river or have a picnic at Fisherman's Park. The area is also home to the majestic "Lost Pines" in Bastrop State Park where one can enjoy a leisure hike or drive through miles of pine trees. Take the time to stay at a number of bed-and-breakfast inns or hotels in the area including the newly built Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa. At the resort, families can enjoy golfing, horseback riding, hiking or swimming in addition to its beautiful setting in a pecan grove along the Colorado River.
About the Texas Parks & Wildlife Paddling Trails Program
The Texas Paddling Trails program was created to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails throughout the state and support these trails with maps, signage and other information. The trails provide well-mapped accessible day trips in a variety of settings for all levels of paddling experience. There are currently seven coastal paddling trails in Texas, and the Bastrop trail will be the fourth inland paddling trails, with several communities in the process of applying for participation in the program. Complete information is available on the TPWD Web site.
EDITORS: Kayaks and canoes will be available to the public for $20/person at the event. Thirty-minute introductory floats starting at Bob Bryant Park will be offered at no cost all day long. Members of the public are welcome to bring their own boats; please see the http://www.Environmental-Stewardship.org/NatureFest site for preferred launch sites.
On the Net:
Maps and Images of the Bastrop Paddling Trail: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/bastrop_paddling_trail/

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Oct. 15, 2007
Big Bass Keep Anglers Guessing
ATHENS, Texas -- Should you find yourself with the biggest bass you've ever seen on the end of your line, do you know who to call?
David Campbell, manager of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Budweiser ShareLunker program, hopes you will call him and not a friend with a fillet knife.
Each year from Oct. 1 until April 30, TPWD accepts largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more into the ShareLunker program to be used in a selective breeding program aimed at producing bigger bass in Texas.
And almost every year someone catches a huge bass and has no idea how to tell how big it is. Some of the fish go back into the water, but some go under the knife.
Recently that's what happened to a fish from a private lake in Fannin County, which died despite the angler's efforts to keep it alive. The angler guesstimated the fish's weight at 21 pounds--which would have been a new state record--before filleting it.
Campbell looked at the remains and estimated it probably weighed 15 pounds.
"The most important thing to remember is that you can catch a ShareLunker almost any time, anywhere," Campbell says. "Be prepared. Have your livewell ready before you start fishing. The less you handle the fish, and the quicker you get it into a properly aerated livewell at the same temperature as the lake, the less stress you place on the fish."
A live cage approximately 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet can be used to hold fish if no livewell is available. Most bait shops will also hold fish for anglers in their minnow tank.
Campbell offer three other tips for making sure big fish survive. "One, visit the ShareLunker pages on the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center web site and familiarize yourself with the procedures for handling and caring for a big fish until it can be picked up."
"Secondly, carry the ShareLunker hotline numbers with your fishing license, so you will have it when that big fish bites," Campbell adds. To have a ShareLunker picked up, call Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a message, including area code. Calls are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Every year a number of anglers call Campbell because they've caught the biggest bass they've ever seen, and, like the Fannin County angler, they're sure it weighs more than 13 pounds. Without certified scales to weigh the fish, most anglers guess the fish to be much bigger than it is.
That sometimes results in Campbell driving for hours to pick up a fish only to find out it isn't heavy enough. While handheld scales that can be certified are available, most anglers rely on a public scale to weigh big bass. That leads to Campbell's third tip for preparing for ShareLunker season.
"Go to our Web site and print out the list of certified scale locations and put it in your tackle box," Campbell advises. "If there is not a certified scale listed in your area, you may be able to get your fish weighed at a sporting goods store, marina, grocery store, United Parcel Service shipping point or feed store--any place that must have scales legal for trade."
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens has certified scales and is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Most TPWD Inland Fisheries district offices also have a certified scale; you can find the one nearest you at the TPWD Web site.
Campbell points out there is no need to kill a big fish in order to have a trophy to hang on your wall. "In addition to Budweiser ShareLunker clothing, every angler who enters a fish into the program receives a fiberglass replica of their fish made by Lake Fork Taxidermy," Campbell says. "We want you to have your fish and not eat it, too."
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
Oct. 15, 2007
Top Whiz Bang Clay Target Shooters Compete
AUSTIN, Texas --Clay target sports competitors from Corpus Christi, Alvin and Burleson took home lifetime hunting and fishing licenses as winners of the 15th Annual state Whiz Bang finals for 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs in Texas. The event was held during the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo on Oct. 5.
Top shooters were: Leo Ybanez of Corpus Christi in the Senior Division; Zach Charbula of Alvin in the Junior Division; and Kyler Ford of Burleson in the Intermediate Division. The Sportsmen's Club of Fort Worth provided the lifetime license awards. Both Ybanez and Ford returned from last year's competition.
Runner-up shooters in each division received Browning Gold 12-gauge shotguns. Total prizes awarded were valued at nearly $24,000, and included trophies for each place provided by Browning, three additional club shotguns by Browning; various trap throwers from La Porte USA, Promatic, R&R Trap Sales and Service, and Lincoln Traps. The top three place winners also received Montana Silversmith belt buckles donated by Mark Faggard.
Other winners received gift certificates for product; gift certificates for custom work on shotguns; private shooting lessons and gun cleaning kits by Otis. Also donated were 40 cases of ammunition from Fiocchi, Winchester, Rio and Remington, shooting glasses, travel bags from the International Hunter Education Association, and memberships to National Sporting Clays Association.
This year's event saw its first female participant, Sierra Stokes of Ozona. The 15 shooters competing in the finals represent 4-H Shooting Sports in their local areas.
In addition to the 4-H Shooting Sports program, TPWD is working with area schools to bolster youth clay sports participation through a new pilot program. 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 participating schools throughout the state, beginning with the Ag. Science 381 Wildlife and Recreation Management curriculum in high schools.
At least 10 participants from previous Whiz Bangs have gone on to shoot in collegiate level competition, and 15 have participated in Junior Olympic and International competitions.

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
Oct. 15, 2007
TPWD Dedicates Justin Hurst WMA in Honor of Fallen Warden
FREEPORT, Texas -- The site formerly known as Peach Point Wildlife Management area near here is being formally rededicated as the "Justin Hurst WMA" in recognition of the game warden and former wildlife biologist who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. The renaming of the site was made official during a special ceremony Oct. 12.
As a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist, Hurst devoted six years to the 15,612-acre WMA known for its lush wetlands and coastal plains harboring waterfowl and numerous aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species. As Peach Point's area manager he was instrumental in the development of many waterfowl conservation projects on the site, including research into mottled duck ecology.
"Justin was dedicated to Peach Point," recalls Hurst's widow, Amanda. "He worked here every day, many nights and weekends. We had our first date at Peach Point. His love for waterfowl, especially the mottled duck, was evident in his work as a biologist and a game warden. Now, Peach Point will be dedicated to Justin."
Hurst started his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a biologist in August 1995 specializing in waterfowl management along the mid-coast. Fellow wildlife biologist Matt Nelson remembers joining TPWD at the same time as Hurst.
"He went to Peach Point and I went to Mad Island (WMA), both of us worked on the central coast wetlands project," Nelson says. "We had numerous research projects going on at the same time and spent most weeks together; fish sampling, working up alligators and mottled ducks. A lot of late nights together running around the marsh in air boats. Justin was very enthusiastic, dedicated towards the resource and approached everything full-bore."
At Peach Point WMA, Hurst was able to submerse himself in his passion for waterfowl and the marsh habitat. For six years, he built a reputation as a wildlife biologist who understood both the resource and conservation, and carried that reputation with him into conservation law enforcement.
Hurst became a part of the 48th Texas Game Warden Academy and graduated in August of 2002. While at the academy, Hurst shared his knowledge about waterfowl with fellow cadets and taught duck identification techniques.
After graduation, Hurst served about a year in Brazos County when a game warden slot became open in Wharton County, which allowed him to return to the marshland he cared about. On March 17, Hurst's 34th birthday, he was killed while attempting to apprehend a suspected poacher.
The Justin Hurst WMA becomes the fourth wildlife area in Texas dedicated to a fallen game warden. A special monument has been erected at Justin Hurst WMA detailing his career.

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
Oct. 15, 2007
Record Whooping Crane Migration Expected This Fall
AUSTIN, Texas -- Wildlife scientists are predicting that a record-breaking 250 whooping cranes will reach the Texas coast this winter, and they're asking the public to report whooper sightings.
"Last year we had 236, but I definitely think we'll reach 250 and anything above that is kind of a bonus," said National Whooping Crane Coordinator Tom Stehn. "I think it will be a successful year for the cranes."
Whooping cranes have been on the endangered species list since 1970, and in the 1930s, the Aransas population was down to just 18 birds. Texas continues to play a key role in the survival and recovery of this endangered species, and today Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is home to the only self-sustaining population in the world.
During the summer months, the cranes breed in the wetlands of Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Canada. This year, a record 84 chicks were born; however, due to below-average rainfall only 40 young survived. Despite the loss, conservationists are still optimistic.
The cranes reside in Texas from November through March, where they store up on food and eventually perform courtship displays in the spring.
The blue crab is their primary source of energy, and due to the extensive rains Texas encountered this summer, experts are predicting an abundance of crab. "By the time the cranes get here there will be many juvenile crabs in this area," said Mark Fisher, science director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Division.
"The blue crabs seem to be the key," said Stehn. "If there is a lot of food, almost all the cranes will make it through the winter, and if they leave here in good shape it increases their chances of survival during migration."
Whooping cranes are the tallest and one of the rarest birds in North America. They're considered valuable in several ways, including as a source of nature tourism in local communities.
"Whooping cranes on the Texas coast attract tourists and bird-watchers from all over the world," said Lee Ann Johnson Linam, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, "which translates into several million dollars benefiting local economies."
Standing at nearly five feet tall, whooping cranes are white with rust-colored patches on the top and back of their heads. They are easily distinguishable by their long legs and outstretched necks while flying. Their black wing-tips are visible only in flight. The cranes migrate throughout the central portion of the state, from the eastern panhandle to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and south through the Austin area to the central coast during October and November, usually in small groups of two to five birds.
Conservationists are asking the public to report any sightings of whooping cranes to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (800) 792-1112, ext. 4644 or (512) 847-9480. Sightings may also be reported through e-mail (leeann.linam@twpd.state.tx.us). Some cranes may have a colored band around their leg as a method of identification, and any information regarding these bands would also be useful. Additional identification aids may be found on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
Oct. 15, 2007
Free Children's Book Distributed to Promote Bat Education
AUSTIN, Texas -- Approximately 37,000 copies of a new children's book entitled "Frankie the Free-tailed Bat" are being distributed free to schools across Texas and in parts of Mexico by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
"It's important to educate children to help them understand that bats aren't bad, that they're actually good for the environment," said author Nyta Hensley, who is also the Natural Resources Specialist for the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area. "Bats play key roles in a lot of different ecologies. For one thing, new research shows bats save farmers millions of dollars in avoided pesticide use by naturally controlling insect pests."
The book, which is being published in English and Spanish, is about a female free-tailed bat which migrates to Texas, where she has a baby. The story tells the adventures of Frankie and her son as they migrate back and forth from Texas to Mexico.
"A big part of this project is to help educate people about bats and the important role they play in agriculture," said Hensley.
The free-tailed bat mainly feeds on insects, and as a result, it reduces insect pests such as the corn earworm moth that harm farmers' crops. In turn, the amount of chemicals that farmers need to use is also diminished.
Boston University Professor Thomas Kunz, Ph.D., is leading a research project in Texas to specify the dollar value of bats to control insect pests. He also consulted on the content of "Frankie the Free-Tailed Bat," which was developed as a public outreach component of the research project with funds from a National Science Foundation grant.
"If adults could only see the world through the eyes of children, they could relive the wonderment and excitement of discovery they too once experienced in their youth," Kunz writes in the book's introduction. "Bats are creatures of the night; they often live in dark places, and thus are rarely seen directly by most people. Because of this, children and adults often develop unfounded, false attitudes toward bats that are more often based on myth than on fact. [This book] tells a delightful story, based on scientific discoveries, that not only imparts new knowledge about this fascinating bat species to young readers, but it also contains new information that will be of interest to a broader audience--that this species and others like it, are valuable members of our environment that need to be protected."
Along with being the most common bat in Texas, the free-tailed bat is also one of the most abundant mammals in North America, commonly known as the "house bat."
For more information about how to obtain your copy of "Frankie the Free-tailed Bat," please contact Mark Klym at mark.klym@tpwd.texas.gov or visit the TPWD Web site for an electronic version.
On the Net:
English: http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_1423.pdf
Spanish: http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_1423_spanish.pdf