|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-10-22                                    |
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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: Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov; Ray Sullivan, Texas Historical Commission, (512) 481-0277, sullivan@austin.rr.com; Tela Mange, Texas Dept. of Public Safety, (512) 424-2083, tela.mange@txdps.state.tx.us ]
Oct. 22, 2007
Proposition 4 Would Fund State Parks, Historic Sites, Crime Labs and More
AUSTIN, Texas -- Almost every Texan would feel the effects of Proposition 4 on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot, but few people may understand the proposition's ballot language.
Proposition 4 would authorize up to $1 billion in bonds to pay for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects for nine state agencies. It stems from Senate Joint Resolution 65 passed by the 80th Texas Legislature.
Affected agencies include the Parks and Wildlife Department, Historical Commission, Department of Public Safety, Department of State Health Services, Department of Aging and Disability Services, Youth Commission, Department of Criminal Justice, Facilities Commission, and Adjutant General's Department.
When voters step into ballot booths, they'll see 16 constitutional amendments, including several other bond items. The Proposition 4 ballot language will read, "The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects and for the purchase of needed equipment."
Texas State Parks stand to get $52 million in bond authority from Proposition 4 for 2008-2009, including $27 million for major repairs at parks across the state and $25 million to help fund a new dry berth for long-term preservation of the Battleship TEXAS.
Texas historic sites and courthouses would get $48 million from Proposition 4 for 2008-2009. That includes $17 million for needed repairs at 20 historic sites across Texas and $31 million to continue Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program matching grants for cities and towns statewide.
Proposition 4 would also improve statewide crime fighting by providing up to $200 million for 2008-2009 for the Department of Public Safety. This would pay for new and expanded crime labs serving law enforcement across Texas, which would speed up turnaround time for evidence analysis and prepare for caseload growth in the future. Most current crime labs are close to 30 years old with caseloads now up to eight times their original scope.
Proposition 4 would also fund a new Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (driving track) facility in Williamson County with driving training areas, classrooms and driving simulators to serve all Texas law enforcement agencies on a scheduled basis.
The proposition would also fund repair and renovation of mental health state schools and hospitals, critical deferred maintenance and asbestos abatement for state offices, construction of prison facilities (if needed), major maintenance projects at 14 Texas National Guard readiness centers and repairs at Camp Mabry in Austin, among other items.
Bonds such as those for Proposition 4 are like low-interest loans. The government sells bonds to investors, then pays them back with interest over time. Bonds are often used to fund deferred maintenance, which can prevent higher costs in the future.
A coalition of state agencies affected by Proposition 4 is working to help educate and inform voters, explaining how bond funds would be spent and how this would affect the public. State agencies are not advocating for or against the proposition, but they are urging citizens and state employees to get informed about Proposition 4 and exercise their right to vote.
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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: Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov; Jim Cathey, Texas Cooperative Extension, (979) 845-0916, jccathey@tamu.edu; Thea Platz, Alamo Area Master Naturalists, (210) 860-0143, tplatz2@sbcglobal.net ]
Oct. 22, 2007
Alamo Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists Marks 10th Anniversary
SAN ANTONIO -- The Alamo Area chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program is this year celebrating a decade of achievement in environmental conservation, restoration and education. The movement to produce a trained corps of dedicated citizen volunteers has since spawned a nationally-recognized statewide program with 41 other local chapters across Texas, but it all began here 10 years ago.
"It's been a real joy to see the growth of the program; when you have something that is fulfilling a need, it really takes off," said Thea Platz, Alamo Area chapter vice president and founding member. In 2005, she became the first master naturalist to earn 5,000 hours of service. "The program has been like the Starbucks of environmental education, with new chapters springing up everywhere."
The Alamo Area chapter held its first training class in March 1997. Originally the organization was called the Natural Initiatives Program, but the name was changed to Master Naturalist in 1998 when the statewide Texas Master Naturalist program was created as a joint project of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Cooperative Extension.
Each volunteer naturalist is required to complete a 40-hour multidisciplinary educational program. To remain active, each year they must complete eight hours of advanced training and a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service to their local community.
"Our main advantage is that we are very highly trained and so we are a lot different than some volunteers people have worked with in the past," said Platz. "We can jump in and understand scientific projects, work with technical data and handle just about anything."
Within the first three years, the Texas Master Naturalist program spread throughout the state. The group's first annual report in 2000 revealed more than 22,600 hours contributed by naturalist volunteers statewide, with the Alamo Area chapter reporting more than 19,000 volunteer hours at its first annual meeting in October of that year.
The state program won national recognition from the Wildlife Management Institute with the President's 2000 Award for promotion of "improved public understanding and appreciation of natural resources and the role of management, and also because of the exceptional initiative invested to ensure its widespread adoption and success."
The Texas Master Naturalist program also received a Take Pride In America award in 2005 from the U.S. Department of the Interior. This national partnership program supports and recognizes volunteers who work to improve public parks, forests, grasslands, reservoirs, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, local playgrounds, and other recreation areas.
Most recently, the program was named the Texas Association for Environmental Education's "Educator of the Year" on Oct. 13.
"When we first started, it was during our second training session that we were already beginning training for different chapters in the state," said Platz. "We were sort of flying by the seat of our pants."
Today there are 41 Texas Master Naturalist chapters and more than 4,500 volunteers who have been trained through the program. To date, the value of the service provided by volunteers is approximately $10.1 million. Their work has stretched across 80,000 acres of land and reached more than 100,000 youth, adults and private landowners each year.
The group's influence radiates beyond Texas, since 28 states have now implemented a Master Naturalist program modeled after the idea begun in San Antonio 10 years ago.
"I would not hesitate to guess that the numbers of hours that have actually been performed are two or three times what we have recorded," said Alamo Area chapter President J. W. Pieper. "The Master Naturalist movement is just exploding in Texas."
The Alamo Area chapter has partnered extensively with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, contributing tens of thousands of hours of service that are evident in green spaces along rivers, in parks and other spots across the city.
San Antonio area milestones include the chapter's signature native plant Wildscape along the River Walk, landscaping projects for Habitat for Humanity, and land surveying of 6,050 acres acquired for the aquifer recharge zone. Presently, the chapter, along with other Texas Master Naturalist local chapters, is working on transforming a newly created gorge near Canyon Lake into a park.
Recognizing the group's many contributions, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger declared Oct. 12-14 to be Texas Master Naturalist Volunteer Days. In a proclamation the mayor said, "Texas Master Naturalist volunteers play an integral role in providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas of Texas."
Volunteers have also helped biologists place tracking tags on birds, bats and monarch butterflies and worked with archeologists to uncover Native American rock art pictographs.
"It's enriching for members because they have lots of unique, scientifically-based opportunities with what we're doing," said Platz. "We wouldn't be able to do these things without trust, and we have established a reputation that when we sign on to do something we can follow directions and understand scientific procedures."
"I think that what we've achieved so far is wonderful and as we continue to grow, I want to continue to keep the same reputation of being valid and setting the bar high for the quality of volunteers," said Platz.
Complete information about the Alamo Area chapter, including how to receive volunteer training, is available on the group's Web site. A complete listing of statewide chapters and training opportunities is on the Texas Master Naturalist 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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Kerrin Meyer, (512) 462-2555 ext. 506 or hfth@tacaa.org ]
Oct. 22, 2007
Program Offers Easy Way to Donate Venison
AUSTIN, Texas -- With hunting season around the corner, many hunters will soon find their freezers packed with venison. The Hunters for the Hungry program offers a convenient way to donate extra venison to help feed people in need.
Interested hunters can take legally harvested deer to a participating meat processor, who will process and package the meat for a nominal fee to help cover basic costs. Meat processors make arrangements with local food assistance agencies to distribute the meat to people in the community who need food.
Last hunting season, hunters donated nearly 176,000 pounds of meat to the Hunters for the Hungry program through 90 participating meat processors in 64 counties. This year, hunters may donate deer at one of 96 participating meat processors in 69 counties, with new processors joining the program throughout the season.
Organizations providing food always need protein sources -- an important, but often expensive food category. Low in fat, venison nutritiously fulfills the protein category in a healthful way.
The venison donated to the Hunters for the Hungry program goes to food pantries, soup kitchens, churches, and shelters. Individuals and families impacted by ill health, job layoffs, domestic violence, natural disasters, and other personal crises benefited from the venison last season. All were appreciative of the delicious meals that resulted from Hunters for the Hungry donations and the generous hearts of the hunters and meat processors who made it possible.
For a complete list of participating meat processors, visit the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies on the web. The list of processors grows every season. Additional processors are always needed.
Monetary donations to support the program are always welcome. See the website for details.
The Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (TACAA) provides outreach and coordination efforts for the Hunters for the Hungry program. For more information about TACAA and other hunger relief programs, visit the web site at or call (800) 992-9767.
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