|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-01-14                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
Jan. 14, 2008
Houston Zoo to Host 2008 Texas Wildlife Diversity Conference
Carter Smith Opens Three Day Conference
HOUSTON -- Are black bears coming back to East Texas? How are exotic invasive species affecting native Texas plants and animals? Are roads and highways having an effect on amphibian and reptile populations? Find out the answers to these questions and be a part of the implementation of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan during the 2008 Texas Wildlife Diversity Conference at the Houston Zoo's Brown Education Center Jan.17 through Jan. 19, 2008.
Former Nature Conservancy of Texas Director and incoming Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith will open the conference with remarks on partnership building Thurs., Jan. 17 at 1:20 p.m. A highly respected conservationist, Smith understands the conservation challenges for a rapidly growing and changing state. His address will provide a unique perspective to the goals of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan.
The 2008 Texas Wildlife Diversity Conference provides a wonderful learning opportunity for anyone who cares about non-game species in Texas. Sessions will focus on implementation of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan and the status of nongame research. There will also be a unique session on Texas Plant Communities dedicated to developing a process to expand the Texas Native Plant Conservation Plan, which currently exists as only an outline.
"This is the third Wildlife Diversity Conference over the last 18 years. Each meeting has brought together an energized constituency of scientists, land managers, and others simply interested in the biological wealth of this great state," said TPWD Wildlife Division Director Mike Berger, Ph.D. "The Texas Wildlife Action Plan provides a road map for addressing priority species and habitats in need of conservation attention. As we move from planning to implementation, we need stakeholders and others that know how to get things done on the ground to attend and participate in this conference."
Some of the speakers featured at the conference are listed below. For a complete list, see the online conference schedule.
--Hannah Bailey, Houston Zoo Bird Curator; Attwater's Prairie Chicken Recovery
--Donna Shaver, Padre Island National Seashore; Kemp's Ridley Turtles
--Heather Prestridge, Texas A&M University; Non-game reptile and amphibian trade in Texas.
--Chris Best, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Texas Plant Recovery Initiative
--Damon Waitt, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; The Pulling Together Initiative
--Clint Boal, U. S. Geological Survey/Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit; Facilitating wildlife conservation with wind energy development.
--Warren Conway, Stephen F. Austin State University; Control and Management of Exotic Invasive Plants in Coastal Prairies of Texas
--Jerry Cook, Sam Houston State University; Conservation of a Rare Texas Harvester Ant.
--Lawrence Gilbert and Robert Plowes, UT-Austin; Phorid fly releases for biocontrol of fire ants in Texas.
--Jim Willis, WW Ranch; Private Landowners Restore Wildlife Habitat for Quail.
--Brent Ortego, TPWD; Coastal Prairie Restoration.
--Mylea Bayless, Bat Conservation International; Monitoring Artificial Roosts for Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bats.
--Timothy Siegmund, Stephen F. Austin State University; Black Bear Occupancy and Habitat Suitability of Three Northeast Texas River Systems.
On the Net:
For complete details or to register online: http://www.houstonzoo.org/twdc2008/
Texas Wildlife Action Plan: http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/pwd_pl_w7000_1187a/

[ 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: O.C. Garza, (361) 485-3109, or OC.Garza@victoriatx.org ]
Jan. 14, 2008
Victoria-Riverside Park Paddling Trail Dedication Set for Wed., Jan. 23
VICTORIA, Texas -- Construction of the Victoria-Riverside Park Paddling Trail on the Guadalupe River is complete and the new trail access ramp will be dedicated on Wed., Jan. 23 at 10 a.m.
The new ramp -- and the site of the Jan. 23 dedication ceremony -- is located next to the old water plant near the Stayton Street entrance to Riverside Park. The new ramp provides kayakers and canoeists both an entry ramp and a take-out ramp within the boundary of Riverside Park. Paddlers entering the Guadalupe River at the boat ramp near the Rose Garden can take out at the new ramp near the old water plant after a 4.25 mile paddle on the river.
The trail will be designated as an official "Texas Paddling Trail" -- the fifth inland paddling trail and 12th trail overall -- recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The new ramp was constructed in a partnership among TPWD, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the City of Victoria.
"The Victoria-Riverside Park Paddling Trail is the second project we've undertaken with the GBRA, and because of the great support from the city and people of Victoria, it will become a great tourism attraction for the area," said TPWD Nature Tourism Coordinator Shelly Plante. "This is a wonderful stretch of water, and a great link between the paddling trails farther inland and coastal trails like the ones at Port O'Conner and Aransas Pass."
The Victoria City Council, the Parks and Recreation Commission, Coastal Bend Paddlers Club, TPWD, GBRA officials and other dignitaries have been invited to the dedication ceremony.
Texas Paddling Trails is a program to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails throughout the state and support these trails with maps, signage and other information. These trails provide well-mapped accessible day trips in a variety of settings and for all levels of paddling experience. There are currently seven coastal paddling trails and five inland paddling trails, with several communities in the process of applying for participation in this program.
For more information about the Victoria-Riverside Park Paddling Trail or the dedication ceremony, contact the City of Victoria Parks and Recreation Department at (361) 485-3200.
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]
Jan. 14, 2008
Cooperative Stewardship Is Focus of TOWMA Conference Feb. 1-2
KYLE, Texas -- Across Texas, a seismic shift in land ownership is transforming the landscape. Bigger ranches are giving way to ranchettes, resulting in loss of open range and fragmentation of wildlife habitat. One solution is landowners banding together for common benefits, which is the focus of the Texas Organization of Wildlife Management Associations (TOWMA) annual conference Feb. 1-2 in Kyle south of Austin.
The theme of the conference is "Cooperative Stewardship: What's in it for YOU, What's in it for Texas?" and organizers have worked to provide something for everyone. That includes entertaining side trips for family members near the conference headquarters at Texas Old Town, a private meeting and special events facility.
The meeting offers an assortment of presentations about land management practices and tools to help attendees become better stewards of natural resources. A common theme is the advantages of managing resources cooperatively and what landowners can accomplish by working together. A diverse group of respected professionals will present information.
Carter Smith, newly appointed executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will lead off Saturday's program. Keynote speaker state Sen. Glenn Hegar, a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, will discuss legislation affecting water and wildlife management on private lands. Other speakers include Matt Wagner, Ph.D., TPWD Wildlife Diversity program director; Doug Mason, Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association predator control manager and co-founder of TEAM HOGS hunger relief program; and Jenny Sanders, Texas Wildlife Association conservation programs coordinator.
Linda McMurry of TPWD will moderate a panel of experts discussing cooperative management tools and success stories, including landowners, scientists, and land policy experts such as former state Rep. Bob Turner.
Successful land managers and representatives from other professional organizations and state agencies have also been invited to participate, including: Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Hunters Harvest, Texas Farm and Ranch Conservation Council and others.
On Friday evening, Texas Old Town will cook a Texas-style BBQ Cowboy supper with live traditional country and western music from the Texas Old Town Wranglers. Those who come early can browse items to be auctioned off after dinner. Guest speakers begin after breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Admission to the TOWMA 2008 Spring Meeting is $60 per adult with one child under age 13 free with each paid admission. This includes the meeting program both days, Friday evening dinner and dance (cash bar), plus Saturday morning pre-meeting refreshments, fajita lunch, and afternoon break refreshments. ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS JAN. 28. Anyone can register on the TOWMA Web site. For more information, phone Larry Jones at (361) 362-0430.
TOWMA is a statewide organization that brings together regional wildlife management associations throughout Texas to achieve common goals and objectives. TOWMA facilitates the formation of new wildlife management associations by sharing "Best Practices" and re-usable templates to help organizations avoid "re-inventing the wheel."
TOWMA monitors legislation affecting landowners, communicates issues to members, and provides input to legislators who pass laws affecting wildlife and land use. The group does not lobby, but instead acts as an informational resource. The organization also provides educational opportunities to its members and the public through meetings, newsletters and other means.
The group's Web site offers a clickable map to find wildlife management associations across Texas, a technical library of articles on wildlife conservation topics, and many other resources.
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 ] [RM]
Jan. 14, 2008
Conservation Careers Await at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
AUSTIN, Texas -- If you love the outdoors and are looking for a job where you can make a difference in conserving Texas' natural and cultural resources, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department may have just the job you're looking for.
Entering 2008, TPWD had 50 job postings and was expecting to post even more during coming weeks. The majority of those job openings are within the State Parks Division, which is looking to fill job slots in Austin, its field offices and in many of the 93 state parks. Recent retirements of park employees and additional appropriations from the Texas Legislature last year to increase staffing in state parks by more than 200 employees are driving the demand.
"The combination of retirements and new positions is making for the best state park career opportunities that we've seen in 20 or more years," said State Parks Director Walt Dabney. "For people who love the outdoors, like working with park visitors and doing something that makes a different in their quality of life, this is a wonderful time to consider a parks career."
Dabney says state park job openings cover everything from clerk slots to major maintenance jobs to interpretive and peace officer positions. There are some excellent opportunities, too, he said, for college graduates with no parks experience to come into the agency as park trainees, where they can learn on the job and forge a state parks career.
At present, the State Parks Division has approximately 100 job openings, many of them ranger positions. Some of them are entry-level positions for which many people might qualify, but the majority requires special skills and experience, so applicants need to look closely at the job descriptions to make sure they meet minimal qualifications before applying.
Other employment opportunities exist, as well, in wildlife, fisheries and other TPWD divisions, according to Al Bingham, director of the Human Resources Division.
"There are a variety of jobs at our Austin headquarters," Bingham said, "but because we are a field-based organization, we are looking to fill jobs throughout the state. A number of vacancies exist in rural areas, where our positions are competitive with the local retail market."
Applicants must submit a completed State of Texas job application for each position of interest. Copies of applications will be accepted as long as the different job posting number and location preference are identified.
Job seekers may stop by the TPWD headquarters, 4200 Smith School Road, in Austin to view the job postings and apply, or they can review employment opportunities on the agency's Web site. Interested job candidates also may call the Human Resources Division at (512) 389-4545.
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]
Jan. 14, 2008
Texas Wildfire Risk Can Be Reduced With Action Now
AUSTIN, Texas -- Dangerous. That's the word fire officials and rangeland management specialists use to describe the combination of heavy grass growth and dry conditions that exist now over much of Texas. Big rains in 2007 produced a lot of grass and other vegetation, which now amounts to dry tinder in much of the state.
"In the past year, most of Texas has been blessed with abundant rainfall. However, with abundant rainfall has come large amounts of grass growth," said Bob McCan of Victoria, president of the Texas Coalition of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.
"And because of the high fuel loads and the weather fluctuations, the serious situation is expected to remain through March, in spite of occasional moisture" said Dr. Wayne Hanselka, Texas Cooperative Extension range specialist in Corpus Christi. "An inch of rain will not last long with high winds and low humidity."
According to Kent Ferguson, state range management specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Services in Temple, "Managing grass fuels is very important right now. Some things to be done include mowing road ditches, being careful with outdoor burning, being watchful of catalytic converters, plowing or blading fireguards, and using prescribed burning."
It may seem ironic or contradictory to people unfamiliar with prescribed fire as a land management tool, but properly planned and implemented prescribed burns can actually decrease wildfire danger by reducing fuel loads such as dry grass. However, it is important that prescribed burns be properly planned and carried out by those with knowledge and experience in the use of fire as a management tool, Hanselka said.
"A group of interested persons met recently to begin addressing the issue of fire safety and the proper use of prescribed burning," McCan said. "This alliance included private individuals, Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Ag Experiment Station, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Nature Conservancy and the Welder Wildlife Foundation. Our purpose is to make people aware of the good information that is available."
There are many techniques to provide fire protection as well as conduct a safe prescribed burn.
Dr. Butch Taylor, at a recent tour for the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burn Association, offered this technique: "Ranchers and others wanting fire protection can install two parallel dozer lines, then burn between them under carefully chosen conditions. This creates a blackline. The distance between the lines can be about 100 feet for grass fuel, but should be at least 500 feet for volatile fuels or more sensitive areas. This not only provides a margin of safety from wildfire but allows a rancher to conduct a prescribed burn at the time and condition of their own choosing."
Applicable laws and other prescribed burn information can be found on the Texas Interagency Coordination Center Web site. Additional information about protecting against wildfires can be found through the Texas Forest Service.
On the Net:
Texas Interagency Coordination Center: http://www.tamu.edu/ticc/prevention.htm
Texas Forest Service: http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/main